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How Much is My Uber / Lyft Accident Case Worth?

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App-based rideshare services, most notably Uber and Lyft, have revolutionized the transportation industry. Offering a level of affordability and convenience that traditional taxi services don’t, these services have also become incredibly popular. Like any common carrier company, however, they still have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of passengers, driver, and those – to a lesser degree, and with some caveats – who drive, walk, or cycle around their drivers.

Because rideshare companies owe a duty of care to passengers and the general public, they can be held liable for damages which arise when they fail to meet that duty. At Biren Law Group, our rideshare accident lawyers know how popular Uber and Lyft have become in Los Angeles. We also know victims injured in these wrecks have many questions about their cases – including the ultimate value of their claims.

The Value of Your Accident Claim

The value of your Uber or Lyft accident claim, like any other personal injury or car accident claim, always depends on the unique facts and circumstances involved. With so many variables, there’s simply no way to give an exact answer, especially without a personalized review of your case.

Generally, however, there are some important factors that can impact the potential value of your case, how and from whom you may be able to recover compensation, and how much that compensation may be. These include:

Your Injuries & Damages

Similar to auto accidents involving everyday drivers and privately owned vehicles, case value is driven in large part by the underlying injuries a victim suffered. In Uber and Lyft accidents, those injuries commonly include:

  • Neck and back injuries
  • Facial lacerations, dental injuries, hearing / vision injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
  • Spinal cord injuries and disability / paralysis
  • Internal injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Amputation / loss of limbs

Generally, the more serious injuries are and the more severely they impact a person’s life, the greater the potential for larger settlements and / or verdicts (if your case goes to trial, which most do not). That’s because personal injury claims allow victims to recover financial compensation for the economic and non-economic damages they incurred as a result of their accident and injuries. It’s why accident lawyers classify injuries which profoundly alter the lives of victims as “catastrophic.”

Usually, the scope of damages correlates with the types of injuries a person suffered. For example, injured victims are entitled to compensation that may include:

  • Medical Expenses – This includes compensation for the medical bills you’ve already accrued, such as the costs of emergency medical attention or treatment in the ER, treatment from orthopedic specialists and physical therapists or chiropractors, treatment from a neurologist or other specialists, medications, medical devices and more. If injuries are serious enough that victims will still have medical needs related to their injuries beyond the date a claim is resolved –for an expected amount of time, indefinitely, or permanently – victims may also recover compensation for projected future medical expenses. Estimating future medical needs and expenses requires the assistance of medical experts, and experienced attorneys.
  • Lost Wages – Victims can recover income they lost as a result of their injuries, such as when they were unable to work in the immediate aftermath of an accident, or were forced to take additional time off to recover from a procedure. Compensation for lost wages, like medical expenses, can also include lost future earnings. These may be projections for lost income based on medical needs and other issues related to the injuries, or they may be projections that take into account a victim’s loss of potential income caused by their inability to perform the same work they once did, or their inability to work and earn any meaningful income at all.
  • Non-Economic Damages – Unlike economic damages tied to injuries, non-economic damages are the intangible losses a victim suffered as a result of their accident and injuries. These may vary drastically from case to case, but generally include damages such as your physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma and distress (including psychological injuries), loss of quality or enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (or companionship with loved ones), and others.

Liability & Insurance Coverage

Having a sufficient source of compensation depends a lot on available insurance coverage. In standard auto accident claims, that usually means seeking compensation through the at-fault driver’s auto insurance. In some cases involving low policy limits, extensive damages, or even an uninsured, it may also require victims to seek compensation through their own insurance, provided they have UM / UIM coverage. In Uber and Lyft accidents, however, things are a little different.

Rideshare companies typically operate by labeling drivers as independent contractors. Because there have been major rulings which required drivers to be considered “employees” while they’re “working,” and to have insurance through the rideshare company itself, rideshare companies do have large commercial insurance policies (for example, Uber has a commercial insurance policy with James River Insurance). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Uber or Lyft will always cover all of a victim’s damages. That depends on who the victim was, and what the driver was doing at the time of the crash.

There are a few factors related to liability and insurance that can play a role in how much coverage is available, and therefore how much you may be able to ultimately recover. These include:

  • Drivers not on the job – Rideshare companies tend to separate liability and coverage into tiers. Before their coverage kicks in, however, a Lyft or Uber driver who isn’t “on the job,” meaning they’re not on the clock and not using the app, is usually liable for any damages they cause. If you’re hit by a vehicle with an Uber sticker, for example, but the driver wasn’t working at the time, you’ll likely need to seek compensation through their own personal auto insurance.
  • Driver “on the job” – The first tier for when rideshare company liability kicks in is when a driver is on the job, has the app turned on, and is waiting to find a passenger to pick up. In this situation, that driver would be covered by a rideshare company’s liability insurance ($50,000 per person, $100,000 per incident for both Uber and Lyft).
  • Driver “en route” to pick up a passenger – A rideshare driver is considered to be in the second and primary tier of liability coverage when they accept a fare and are on their way to pick the passenger up. In this situation, the company’s commercial insurance policy kicks in, and is increased to $1 million, which covers liability, UM / UIM, and collision. The driver will revert back the 50/100 liability coverage after dropping a passenger off, and back to their own insurance after turning the entire app off.
  • Driver transporting a passenger – The same $1 million commercial policy is in effect whenever a driver is actively transporting a passenger. If you’re a rideshare driver injured by another motorist, you’ll be covered by this policy. If you’re a passenger at the time, you will also be covered by this policy. For other motorists, and for anyone who’s hurt by an Uber or Lyft driver during this period, the $1 million policy will also provide coverage.

This arrangement can make for a wide variety of possibilities when it comes to compensation. For example, if a driver wasn’t working at the time of a crash and suffered serious injuries which were caused by an underinsured motorist, they may ultimately obtain less than if they suffered less severe injuries while transporting a passenger. In addition to other factors, including how Uber, Lyft, and their insurance companies respond to claims, the value of your case can vary dramatically.

Injured in an Uber or Lyft Accident in Los Angeles? Call Biren Law Group.

If you’ve been recently injured in an Uber or Lyft accident anywhere in Los Angeles or the surrounding areas, our award-winning rideshare accident attorneys at Biren Law Group can help you better understand the potential merits, value, and expectations for your case. If you’re looking into case value because you already have an attorney, we’re also available to provide a second opinion on your claim, and discuss options if you are unsatisfied with your current representation.

Contact us to request a free and confidential case review.