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Written by: Steven R. Clawson
| Read Time: 4 minutes

Rideshare apps have changed the way Californians think about navigating our cities.

When accidents occur, those rideshare apps also add a new layer to how Californians navigate questions about fault, insurance claims, and possible legal action.

If you have had a Lyft or Uber driver accident and you’re not at fault, you should talk to an attorney about who might be at fault and how to preserve your rights. 

Wells Call Injury Lawyers has years of experience representing people injured in rideshare vehicles in California, and while every accident is stressful, every accident is different.

As in almost every accident, the laws of negligence apply to rideshare accidents. Whether an Uber driver is at fault in an accident depends on the circumstances. 

When you have been in an accident with a rideshare vehicle, the question of liability can get complicated.

To identify all parties who might be at fault, you need an experienced attorney. They can help you prepare the best legal strategy to get you the compensation you deserve. 

Understanding Rideshare Accidents in California

Both Uber and Lyft, pioneers in the rideshare world, were founded and are currently headquartered in California.

California, as the hub of ridesharing, sees a significant number of rideshare accidents. In California, the fault in a rideshare accident might rest with one or more parties:

  • The rideshare driver. Just like in accidents with traditional motorists, if the rideshare driver was negligent, they could be at fault. 
  • The rideshare company. The rideshare company might have some responsibility if the rideshare driver was logged in and engaged in a rideshare. 
  • The owner of the rideshare car. If the driver borrowed the vehicle and the accident can be attributed to negligent vehicle maintenance, the owner could be liable. 
  • Any other driver. Sometimes the rideshare is not at fault. If any other driver’s actions caused the accident, they might be responsible.
  • Any other party. The fault also sometimes lies with vehicle manufacturers, parts manufacturers, maintenance companies, pedestrians, cyclists, municipalities, or construction companies.

Identifying who is at fault in any accident can be a complex and combative process. With rideshare companies also possible parties, the stakes can be higher due to higher liability policies.

Proving who is at fault is challenging because no one will eagerly accept blame. A qualified and experienced attorney makes it easier. 

Negligence and California’s Comparative Fault System

To demonstrate that someone else is liable for your injuries, you will need to prove the following elements of negligence:

  • Duty of care. The defendant had a legal duty to use reasonable care. When a Lyft or Uber driver is at fault in an accident, the driver has a duty to everyone on the road with them. 
  • Breach of duty. The defendant failed to use the amount of care a reasonable person would. If the person at fault in an accident drives for Lyft or Uber, your attorney will need to prove they either acted or failed to act the way they should have.
  • Causation. The breach caused your injury. California splits this element into two: actual cause (the breach directly led to the injury) and proximate cause (the injury was a foreseeable consequence of the breach).
  • Damages. You suffered harm or loss from the breach. Harm can be physical, financial, emotional, or all of the above.

When it comes to responsibility for automobile accidents, California follows a comparative fault system.

Comparative fault means that in determining responsibility for an accident, more than one party can be at fault. Damages awarded to injured parties are apportioned according to each party’s percentage of fault.

Furthermore, the injured party can still recover monetary compensation for their injuries even if they were partially at fault. 

For example, imagine a driver is injured and a jury finds that Defendant Driver A was 25% responsible, Defendant Driver B was 25% responsible, Rideshare Company was 40% responsible, and Plaintiff was 10% responsible.

If the jury awards damages of $1,000,000, Plaintiff’s award will be reduced to $900,000, of which Defendant Driver A and Defendant Driver B will each pay $250,000 and Rideshare Company will pay $400,000.

Insurance Considerations

California requires rideshare companies to carry substantial insurance policies that cover their drivers.

Both Uber and Lyft outline their policies on their websites. The coverage will vary depending on the driver’s status at the time of the accident:

  • App off. If the rideshare driver’s app is off, only their personal auto insurance applies.
  • App on, no passenger. If the Lyft or Uber app is on but the driver has no passenger and is not on their way to pick up a passenger, the rideshare company’s limited liability coverage of $50,000 per passenger and $100,000 per accident likely applies.
  • Passenger in the vehicle or en route to pick up a passenger. If the driver is on their way to pick up a passenger or a passenger is in the vehicle, the rideshare company’s highest liability coverage of $1 million is in effect.

An attorney can help you determine which coverage applies to your claim.

Steps to Take After a Rideshare Accident

When you have been injured in an auto accident, your well-being should be the top priority. Preserving your rights and establishing your future claim should also be a priority. We suggest the following:

  1. Get medical attention. Even if you don’t feel injured, some injuries show up later, so it is crucial to get medical attention right away. Document everything. 
  2. Report the accident. Call the police and make sure they file a report. Also, report the accident to the rideshare company through their app or website.
  3. Gather evidence. Take photos of the accident scene, all the vehicles involved, and any injuries. Get contact information from all the witnesses.
  4. Consult with an attorney. The attorneys at Wells Call Injury Lawyers can guide you through the insurance claims and legal process. We can also assess your evidence, help you collect witness statements, and determine the best course of action. 
  5. Notify your insurance company. Inform your insurance company about the accident. Listen to your attorney’s advice about providing statements to your insurance company. 

Questions will arise during the above steps. You will need an experienced and trustworthy rideshare injury attorney to guide you. Call Wells Call Injury Attorneys.

The Role of an Attorney

If you’ve been in a Lyft or Uber driver accident and you’re not at fault, it is essential to have an experienced attorney at your side.

The attorneys at Wells Call Injury Lawyers have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients when they need it most. We can assess your damages and help you get the compensation you deserve. 

Whether you’re a passenger, driver, or third party, if you have been injured in a rideshare accident, the attorneys at Wells Call Injury Attorneys can help you navigate your rideshare accident case, advocate for you, and work to get you fair and just compensation. Contact Wells Call Injury Lawyers today. 

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