If you were injured in a car accident caused by a negligent Uber or Lyft driver, you may be interested in possible routes to financial recovery. The best avenue for this is through a New York personal injury lawsuit.
State laws make it difficult to sue the rideshare company directly, except in special circumstances. However, you can recover from the insurance coverage the rideshare company provides. If you do have a valid claim against the driver for their negligent behavior behind the wheel, you must file your suit within three years of the date of the accident.
The first step in filing a lawsuit is getting competent and dedicated legal advice like that offered by The Martello Law Firm, PLLC. Our experienced Westchester Uber and Lyft accident lawyers can start you off with a free initial case assessment today when you call our offices at (914) 685-6950.
Can You Sue Uber or Lyft Directly in New York?
It is very difficult to file a lawsuit against rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft for an accident in New York. The law classifies rideshare drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees. This means that when a driver negligently causes an accident, they are technically acting for themselves rather than the company they are driving for.
The only situations where a plaintiff could target the rideshare company directly is if they were negligent in vetting and hiring the driver who caused the harm. Companies like Uber and Lyft face massive scrutiny for their lenient hiring practices. These companies have an obligation to their users to do their due diligence on the drivers they send to pick up fares.
There are a few specific examples of situations where injury victims have been able to file suit against the rideshare company directly. Some involved drivers who did not have a driver’s license. Others involved drunk rideshare drivers who had histories of DUIs or similar offenses. There have been a number of instances where drivers with records of violent crime assaulted passengers. If your situation sounds anything like one of these stories, our New York Uber and Lyft accident attorneys may be able to help you file a suit directly against the rideshare company responsible for putting you in this position.
Who Pays for an Uber or Lyft Accident in New York?
While you might not be able to sue Uber or Lyft directly, you can benefit from the supplemental insurance policies the company provides. Uber, Lyft, and other rideshares have insurance coverage for their drivers that applies to any accident that happens while they are on the clock. This coverage will not only apply to rideshare passenger injuries, but also drivers and passengers in other vehicles who are injured in the accident.
The policy limits and their application depend on which stage of the service the driver is engaged in when the accident happens. An accident could occur while a driver is headed to pick up a fare, actively transporting a fare, or merely awaiting a request with their application turned on. Insurance applies differently in each of the three stages, so your Yonkers Uber and Lyft accident lawyer will be able to explain what level of insurance coverage applies in your case.
Can You Sue an Uber or Lyft Driver After an Accident in New York?
Car accident injury victims may have the opportunity file a lawsuit against the party responsible for causing the accident. However, that option only exists if you can step outside of New York’s no-fault insurance laws.
As a no-fault car accident insurance state, New York makes insurance claims the primary option for accident injury victims. Typically, the claim must be filed with your own insurer, unless you were the passenger in an Uber or Lyft and can access their supplemental insurance policy as covered above.
This precludes many car accident injury victims from suing the driver responsible for causing the accident. However, you can escape the no-fault rules and file a lawsuit if you can demonstrate that your harms were serious.
New York’s statutory language explains what constitutes a serious injury. Any accident that causes more than $50,000 in losses will be considered serious for the purposes of filing a lawsuit. You can also show “serious” injury by showing any of the following conditions resulted from the accident:
- Bone fracture
- Loss of limb
- Loss of bodily function
- Permanent limitation of use of a limb, organ, or system
- Significant limitation of use of a limb, organ, or system lasting at least 90 days
Meeting this statutory threshold is one of many reasons why it is important that you seek medical care after an accident. If you require a medical specialist to help diagnose and treat your injuries, our Mount Vernon personal injury attorneys may be able to assist you in locating one that can also testify on your behalf in court.
Who Should You Sue for an Uber or Lyft Accident in New York?
If you meet the statutory requirements for filing a lawsuit after a car accident in New York, your best bet is usually to sue the rideshare driver themselves. When an Uber driver causes a serious accident in New York, they incur liability for the damages.
However, you shouldn’t worry that the driver will be shouldered with the cost of your recovery themselves. This is where insurance kicks in. Every driver must have a set minimum amount of insurance coverage to operate legally in New York. The State of New York has one of the lowest rates of uninsured drivers in the entire country.
Further, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have their own supplemental insurance policies, as mentioned above. These policies are meant to cover the harms that their drivers might cause if involved in an accident. Therefore, while you might be naming the Uber or Lyft driver in your actual suit, it will be the insurance provider that pays for your damages if and when you ultimately succeed.
Common Causes of Uber and Lyft Accidents in New York
To win a lawsuit against an Uber or Lyft driver after a car accident in New York, you will have to show that their negligence caused the accident. Drivers may be deemed negligent in a variety of different circumstances. Often, you can identify negligence where the driver deviated from traffic rules and regulations that applied in the place where the accident occurred. Below are just a few of the most typical situations in which an Uber or Lyft driver could negligently cause an accident.
Failure to Use Turn Signals
Rideshare drivers, particularly those operating in urban areas, make frequent stops to pick up fares. Before turning off to the shoulder or outside lane, drivers are supposed to indicate their intentions by using their turn signals or hazards. If they don’t, there is no way for other vehicles and bicyclists to predict that they might veer into their path.
Uber and Lyft drivers make money primarily based on how many fares they can complete during the time they are working. This can put pressure on the driver to get their current fare to their destination as soon as possible so they can get started on the next one. However, the rush does not justify irresponsible driving practices like tailgating the vehicle in front of them. This type of behavior limits a driver’s ability to stop short or avoid other vehicles if traffic patterns change.
Rideshare drivers might speed for the same reasons they might tailgate – time equals money, and the more fares they can take on, the more money they can make. But speeding not only puts other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians in danger, it heightens the chances that an accident will result in more serious injury.
The number one cause of car accidents across the country is distracted driving. These days, almost everyone has a smart phone, and it can be hard to keep your eyes on the road instead of the screen, even for rideshare drivers. This is especially troubling for Uber and Lyft drivers who rely on their phone applications for directions to their destination and information about fares.
When they first started operating, rideshare companies were seen as a helpful alternative for people who might otherwise decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. However, Uber and Lyft drivers are people, too, and may have their own flaws. Rideshare drivers may operate while drunk or on drugs, putting their own passengers and others on the road in grave danger.
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit After an Uber or Lyft Accident in New York?
The State of New York also has laws that govern how long an injury victim has to act on their claim. These laws are known as statutes of limitation, and every state has a different one.
To bring a valid Uber or Lyft accident injury lawsuit in New York, you must file your complaint no more than three years after the date of the accident. If you file your lawsuit after the three-year clock has run out, the other side will file a motion to dismiss your claim, which the judge will grant. This would effectively end any chance you might have had at financial recovery for your accident.
The process of preparing an initial complaint for a lawsuit should begin well in advance of the three-year deadline. Identifying the responsible party or parties and calculating damages to claim can take a substantial amount of time, particularly if there were more than two cars involved in the accident. To have the best chance of success, contact your Westchester personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after you have gotten thorough medical evaluation and treatment for your injuries.
Should You Accept a Settlement Offer After an Uber or Lyft Accident in New York?
If you are involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver in New York, the driver’s insurance provider may reach out to you to offer a settlement agreement shortly afterward. A settlement agreement is a deal where the liable party agrees to pay a negotiated sum in exchange for the injury victim giving up their right to sue.
You should never give up your right to sue without thoroughly exploring your options and assessing the offer with your Yonkers personal injury attorney. In many cases, the first settlement offer you receive will be substantially lower in value than what you stand to win in court.
While settlements are useful tools for injury victims looking to get compensated sooner rather than later, you are not under any obligation to accept the first offer that comes through the door. You are free to reject, counter, and negotiate the terms of your settlement, even while your lawsuit is ongoing. It may be beneficial to have your White Plains personal injury lawyer handle the negotiations on your behalf to avoid the stress of dealing with insurance representatives.
How Can a New York Uber and Lyft Accident Lawyer Help You?
It is crucial to have legal representation when seeking compensation for Uber or Lyft accident injuries in New York. An attorney can help you identify a fault in your case and assess whether your injuries allow you to step outside the no-fault rule. Your lawyer can also negotiate with the insurance company and evaluate your damages so that you get everything that you deserve. And if you act now and get legal counsel, your lawyers will help you prepare your filings so that you don’t miss any critical deadlines.
The Martello Law Firm, PLLC Can Help You Recover After an Uber and Lyft Accident in New York
To get a free initial case assessment personalized for you, call the seasoned New York Uber and Lyft accident attorneys at The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950.