Before you schedule another ride with Lyft or Uber, what do you need to know?

As an Evansville car accident law firm, we know that rideshare services like Lyft and Uber have expanded so swiftly that many of their customers – and even some of their drivers – may not be fully aware of the serious legal risks that are involved when passengers are transported commercially.

Uber, in particular, is a stunning business success. Founded in 2009, today Uber is valued at more than $70 billion. Only six years after it was launched, in 2015, Uber claimed it was serving over two million consumers every day.

The rideshare industry’s unprecedented growth means that lawmakers and insurance companies have been caught unprepared, and they’ve been racing to catch up. That’s one reason why an accident involving a rideshare vehicle can be so confusing and complicated.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RIDESHARE SERVICES?

Lyft and Uber are popular and convenient services, but if you are injured in a traffic accident that involves one of these rideshare companies, the possible legal complications can be extensive and confusing. You’re going to need help.

What are those legal complications? Before you schedule another ride with Uber or Lyft, here’s what you need to know:

1. How does a rideshare company’s auto insurance coverage work?
2. What can happen if you are seriously injured in a crash that involves Uber or Lyft?
3. Who is liable – the driver or the rideshare company – if you have been injured?

If you are injured in a collision that involves a commercial vehicle in Indiana, the most important thing to know is this: The law entitles you to full compensation for your medical expenses and related losses, but you must be represented by a reputable personal injury lawyer.

HOW DOES A RIDESHARE COMPANY’S INSURANCE COVERAGE WORK?

Coverage for Lyft and Uber vehicles hinges on the driver’s “status” – off-duty, en route to pick up a passenger, or carrying a passenger.

When transporting passengers, Lyft and Uber cover anyone who is injured in an accident involving their vehicle with a $1 million liability policy and a $1 million uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.

In most collisions that involve a Lyft or Uber vehicle, passengers and those injured in any other vehicle should be covered by the company’s liability insurance, and it should not matter who was the at-fault driver.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN AFTER AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING LYFT OR UBER?

But if you are the injury victim, you must have an accident attorney who will protect your rights as an injury victim and provide the sound legal advice you need. Whether or not your ultimate damages surpass $1 million, you may find it difficult to obtain the compensation you need.

Moreover, if you’re a Lyft or Uber passenger, a passenger or a driver in another vehicle, or a bicyclist or pedestrian, and you’re injured in a crash involving Lyft or Uber, the $1 million of liability coverage only applies if a passenger is on board or if a driver is en route to a passenger.

You also must realize that even when you are “covered” by a rideshare company’s insurance, the company providing that coverage operates like every other insurance company. An insurance company will probably make a low settlement offer – an offer you should reject.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY?

Have the advice and guidance of an injury attorney before you speak to a rideshare operation’s insurance company. Contact that attorney as soon as you have been examined and treated for your injuries after an accident.

If you are injured in either vehicle in an accident with a Lyft or Uber vehicle, summon medical assistance to the scene, and the call the local police. Obtain as many details as possible from all drivers involved– names, personal contact details, and how to reach the insurance companies.

Take photographs of the scene, the vehicle damages, and your visible injuries. If eyewitnesses were there, ask for their contact details as well.

WHY IS A MEDICAL EXAM IMPERATIVE AFTER ANY ACCIDENT?

After any traffic accident, even if you do not feel any pain, ask a healthcare professional to examine you within at least 24 hours. A latent or undetected injury could become a serious medical condition – days or weeks later – so you must protect yourself.

If you’re injured while you are a Lyft or Uber passenger, or if you’re in another vehicle when you are in an accident involving Lyft or Uber, don’t give an insurance company a written or recorded statement, and don’t accept a settlement offer before speaking with an attorney.

A quick settlement offer is almost certainly a low settlement offer, and if you accept it, you will waive your right to any legal action or additional compensation.

If you have been injured, you must have an experienced negotiator representing you – someone who understands how insurance companies handle claims, and someone who can successfully negotiate the settlement you need.

IF YOU’RE INJURED, HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO ACT?

After a serious injury, you must act quickly. Indiana’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the injury date. But do not wait to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case – do it right away. If you are injured by negligence, compensation is your right.

Uber and Lyft passengers should understand their risks as well as their rights. Rideshare services offer transportation that’s convenient and fast, but if you are injured in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, you’re going to need legal help at once.

It will not cost anything to learn more about your rights. An experienced Evansville personal injury lawyer can provide an injured victim of negligence with a free first legal consultation and case review.

WHAT WILL IT COST IF YOU TAKE LEGAL ACTION?

You’ll learn how Indiana’s personal injury law applies in your own circumstances, and if you choose to move forward with legal action, you will pay no attorneys’ fees up front.

Indiana personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingent fee basis, so you’ll pay an attorney nothing until and unless that attorney obtains a settlement or a jury verdict on your behalf.

As the legal risks associated with the still-quite-new rideshare operations begin to decline, companies like Lyft and Uber should keep growing in popularity here in Indiana and around the globe.

If you are injured in any accident involving any rideshare vehicle in Indiana, consult a good injury attorney at once. Get the legal advice and help you need – when you need it. That is your right.