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Rideshare Accidents: Suing Uber and Lyft

Posted on in Car Accidents

rideshare accidents, Crystal Lake personal injury attorneyIn the past few years, a completely new type of company has developed in the transportation industry: rideshare apps. These apps, like Uber and Lyft, are transforming the way people commute. However, they have seen no small amount of controversy.

The taxicab industry often complains that these drivers are not well-regulated, and pose a danger to consumers. While that complaint is understandably self-motivated, the cab drivers make a valid point.

What happens if there is a rideshare accident? Is the company responsible? Will insurance cover it?

Courts across the country are only now starting to sort out these problems since these accidents are only just starting to happen.

Is the Company Responsible?

One of the big questions about rideshare accidents is whether the injured party can sue the company. Illinois courts have yet to issue a ruling on the subject, and there are strong arguments both ways. One of the key legal doctrines that will play into the answer is the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor.

Employees are people over whom a business exercises a large amount of control, while independent contractors are people that the company hires to do work, but who exercise more freedom in how they work. Unlike traditional transportation providers, rideshare companies claim that they do not employ their drivers. This may make it more difficult to sue them because businesses are responsible for the acts of their employees, but not their independent contractors. However, it is not up to the company to decide whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor. The courts make that decision, though the freedom the rideshare drivers exercise means that this characterization is probably correct.

Another possible route to sue a rideshare company is through their vetting process. It may be possible to argue that the rideshare company was negligent in the screening for their drivers, and as such bears responsibility for the accident. Regardless of whether the company is liable, injured parties can still pursue claims against the driver, though this may also pose some problems.

The Insurance Problem

Holding the rideshare driver responsible for a crash that they cause would be an uncontroversial point, but actually collecting in the case may be more difficult. The rideshare companies require drivers to carry insurance, but most people's insurance policies are personal insurance. The companies are likely to refuse to cover rideshare accidents since they are commercial rather than personal.

The rideshare companies also carry insurance in the case of accidents, but those policies may not help either based on a variety of factors such as whether the driver's insurance applies and whether the driver is actively carrying passengers.

Rideshare companies have revolutionized transportation, but they can also pose a serious danger to consumers and bystanders. If you have been injured in a rideshare accident, contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today

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