The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reports that Gwinnett County had more than 41,500 reported traffic accidents in one year, resulting in 9,436 injuries and 61 fatalities. While many people drive themselves around the county, other drivers are transporting passengers they’ve never even met. Getting into a stranger’s personal vehicle for a ride once seemed unimaginable to many people, but it is now commonplace and completely acceptable across the United States due to ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft.
Uber and Lyft can be extremely convenient, providing much-needed rides for people who are getting car repairs, who are choosing to not drink and drive, who are visiting other cities and don’t want to rent a car, and many more. By simply opening your phone, you can have a driver there to transport you for (usually) affordable fares in a matter of minutes. With all this convenience, however, also comes risks.
Accidents involving rideshare vehicles happen all the time. While some crashes are widely publicized, you may not hear about hundreds more. You might not even think about the possibility of a rideshare accident until one happens to you. If you suffered injuries in a crash involving an Uber or Lyft driver, you should discuss your legal options with a Gwinnett County Ridesharing Accident Attorney at Brauns Law as soon as possible. We know how to handle complex car accident cases, and we can protect your rights.
Types of Rideshare Accidents
There are many ways that rideshare drivers can get in accidents. In some cases, the Uber or Lyft driver may be at fault, but a crash may also be the fault of a third party. The following are some ways people suffer injuries involving rideshare vehicles and drivers:
- A rideshare driver crashes into another car while you are a rideshare passenger
- Another car crashes into a rideshare vehicle while you are a rideshare passenger
- A rideshare driver crashes into the vehicle in which you are riding or driving
- A rideshare driver hits you while you are walking or riding a bicycle
Often, either the rideshare driver or another driver will be at fault for a crash and liable for your injuries and losses. You must determine the exact cause of the accident to know what type of insurance claim to file.
Negligence of Uber or Lyft Drivers
Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft require drivers to have a valid driver’s license, minimum liability insurance, and proper vehicle registration. Other than that, these drivers need no special training or testing before they can drive people around for a living. Rideshare drivers can make mistakes like anyone else on the road, and these mistakes often lead to serious accidents. There are also additional risks that are particular to rideshare drivers, including:
- Uber and Lyft drivers can work for long hours, and many drivers use Uber or Lyft as a second job. If they come home from work and then drive for eight more hours, they can easily become dangerously fatigued.
- Drivers need to keep a close eye on the map in the Uber or Lyft app, and this can lead to dangerous distracted driving.
- Drivers might be driving through areas that they do not know very well, which can be confusing and can lead to wrong turns, speeding, missing stop signs, and other errors.
When a rideshare driver is at fault for an accident and you were a passenger, you can file an insurance claim with Uber or Lyft. These companies have $1 million policies to cover their drivers when they are actively transporting a passenger. When you were in a different vehicle or were a pedestrian, and the rideshare driver did not have a passenger, the insurance situation can get more complicated. You may still be able to file a claim with the company, or you may have to file a claim with the driver’s personal insurance policy. Our law firm examines each case carefully to ensure we file claims with the right insurance companies.
Negligence of Other Parties
Rideshare drivers can be the victims of negligence like anyone else. When another party caused the accident, you will not be dealing with Uber or Lyft insurance at all. Instead, you may have to file a claim with the policy for one or more of the following:
- Another driver who acted negligently on the road and caused the crash
- The vehicle manufacturer if the rideshare vehicle malfunctioned due to a defective part, causing the driver to lose control
- A government agency if the rideshare driver crashed due to a dangerous road hazard
No matter who was at fault, Brauns Law knows how to pursue an effective claim. Cases may get more complex if they are against a corporation or government agency, but we have the skill and experience to assist you.
Our firm handles cases involving many types of injuries and losses, including concussions, broken bones, sprains and strains, or catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injury (SCI) or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Whether you took a trip to the emergency room and missed a few days of work, or you suffered a life-altering injury that caused disabilities that prevent you from ever working again, Brauns Law can protect your rights. Rideshare accident victims deserve full compensation for their losses, which may include:
- Medical bills
- Costs of future medical care
- Lost wages
- Lost earnings if you cannot return to work in the future
- Pain and suffering
Insurance companies often try to reduce payments to accident victims in many ways, so you always want the right attorney on your side to ensure you receive the full value of your claim.
Gwinnett County Ridesharing FAQs
Gwinnett County is no stranger to ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Innovative services like these offer many benefits that have revolutionized the way Georgians travel, especially in metropolitan areas like Atlanta. Their apps and give you instant access to quick, on-demand, inexpensive, and convenient transportation. It’s the ideal way to bypass public transportation or seemingly old-fashioned taxicab services.
Ridesharing platforms help individuals avoid the risks of driving under the influence when celebrating a special occasion or merely enjoying a night out on the town. There’s no arguing that rideshare services are safer than drunk driving, although accidents can and do continue to happen. When they do, those involved need the experienced legal counsel of a Gwinnett County ridesharing accident attorney. If you have questions about Uber or Lyft’s ridesharing platforms, we aim to answer them here.
How safe are ridesharing drivers in Gwinnett County?
Both Uber and Lyft require background checks on all driver applicants, but the thoroughness of the background checks is a matter of debate. Serious criminal offenses, such as murder and sexual assault, as well as applicants who are registered sex offenders, are automatically disqualified. Language about “other felonies” that can also disqualify someone from becoming an Uber or Lyft driver is somewhat vague.
These platforms check the driving record of all applicants, as they should. However, what might disqualify a driver isn’t extremely clear. According to Uber, “major driving violations or a recent history of multiple minor violations, including but not limited to no-fault accidents, may result in disqualification.” They don’t define “recent” history or major driving violations.
Potential drivers only need one year of driving experience if they are over the age of 23, which means you could be the passenger of an extremely inexperienced driver. Additionally, either company requires in-person vehicle inspections, and there are other minimal inspection criteria.
What laws govern for-hire drivers in Gwinnett County?
According to Georgia Motor Vehicles and Traffic Law § 40-5-39, a company cannot operate a motor vehicle for hire in this state without a for-hire license endorsement or a private background check. Under the same law, drivers must have liability insurance coverage in the amounts the law requires for the class of vehicle they operate.
This law applies to limousine drivers, rideshare networks, and taxi services.
To receive a for-hire endorsement, the driver must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a valid and unlimited Georgia license
- Be free of any felony convictions, or convictions for crimes of “moral turpitude” or a pattern of misdemeanors that evidence of a “pattern of disregard” for the law
- Submit to fingerprinting for a background check with the Georgia Crime Information Center
- Be a U.S. citizen, or provide federal documentation verified by Homeland Security as valid evidence of a lawful presence
Once obtained, the endorsement is good for the same time as the individual’s driver’s license and is subject to a review of criminal history to verify eligibility.
Rideshare platforms provide a private background check. If it meets the state’s requirements, it alone allows drivers to operate for-hire vehicles without the above endorsement.
What are the insurance requirements for Gwinnett County Uber and Lyft drivers?
Under OCGA 33-1-24, rideshare insurance requirements are:
- A minimum of $1,000,000 liability coverage for all injuries, death, and property damage
- A minimum of $1,000,000 for underinsured/ uninsured motorist coverage
The coverage must start when the driver accepts a ride request on the company network until the driver completes the transaction or ride, whichever is later.
How does rideshare insurance coverage work in Gwinnett County?
In the event of an accident, both drivers and passengers for Uber and Lyft can rely on some insurance coverage provided by the respective companies. Both rideshare platforms provide a commercial liability policy that offers some protection to passengers and drivers if a crash occurs. The policies have a one-million-dollar minimum as per Georgia law.
While this might seem like more than enough coverage, the policy limits are usually per-accident and not per-person. This means that the insurance policy only covers up to a million dollars for all expenses in one accident. For example, if there are six people injured in the accident, the million dollars of coverage will be shared between them. Even still, nationally, Uber and Lyft offer better insurance coverage for passengers injured in an accident than most taxicab companies.
Drivers can also obtain commercial insurance policies or personal car insurance, which may cover some of the costs of a rideshare passenger’s injuries. Unfortunately, many auto insurance policies have a business use exception that limits or denies coverage if the insured uses their car for anything other than personal use. It’s critical to note that the commercial liability insurance through Uber and Lyft only applies after the driver’s personal insurance coverage is exhausted.
If this wasn’t complicated enough, the Uber or Lyft driver isn’t always the at-fault party in the accident. Suppose the crash is the fault of another motorist. In that case, injured passengers need to attempt to recover damages from the at-fault driver with their own insurance carrier’s help.
Uber and Lyft accidents often involve a complex dynamic of various insurance coverage, which is challenging to navigate on your own. Unfortunately, if you are injured in a multi-vehicle accident or sustain severe or catastrophic damages, the rideshare company’s policy maximum may not be enough. Anyone involved in a rideshare collision should contact a Gwinnett County ridesharing attorney as soon as possible.
Will I need to file a lawsuit against Uber or Lyft?
In some injury claims, it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit against Uber, Lyft, or other potentially liable parties.
Litigation might be necessary for your claim if the:
- Insurance policies are inadequate
- Insurance company fails to pay
- Ridesharing company acted irresponsibly
A business is much more likely to be held legally accountable for an employee’s acts than the acts of an independent contractor. Uber and Lyft naturally attempt to distance themselves as much as they can from any accident liability by treating drivers as independent contractors.
Suppose you were a passenger in an Uber or Lyft rideshare vehicle or in another vehicle that crashed in a collision that a rideshare driver caused. In that case, you will likely be limited to the rideshare companies’ liability insurance coverage or its uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
Historically, Georgia law has honored the independent contractor defense in regards to ridesharing accidents, thus protecting companies like Uber and Lyft from direct responsibility for motor vehicle accidents. Depending on the circumstances, Individuals injured in these collisions might have a cause of action against the driver, and the driver’s insurance, up to and including the commercial and UIM coverage provided by Uber and Lyft. Even still, the ridesharing companies themselves are generally safe behind the independent contractor defense.
When you hire a Gwinnett County rideshare accident attorney from Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm to represent you after a rideshare accident, they will help you determine your next steps. Before jumping directly to litigation, they will attempt to negotiate a full and fair settlement with all potentially liable parties. If the liable parties are unwilling to offer you such a settlement, you can decide if you want to take your claim to court or not. If litigation becomes necessary, our team of experienced trial lawyers is always ready.
What are compensable damages in Gwinnett County rideshare claims?
Insurance claims arise out of the damages that injured individuals face after an injury accident. If you suffer losses and inconveniences due to another party’s negligence, such as a rideshare driver or another motorist, you deserve compensation for them. The amount of compensation you request is dependent upon the types and severity of your compensable damages. These damages are in two categories—economic and non-economic. Both categories can include past damages and future damages you will suffer due to your injuries.
Economic damages represent your financial losses. The most common types of economic damages in rideshare accidents are medical expenses and lost wages. Other economic damages include property damage and legal and travel expenses.
Non-economic damages are less concrete and, as such, more difficult to value. They don’t have an already assigned price tag.
Your non-economic damages might include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
Your Gwinnett County rideshare accident attorney will help you identify the damages that apply in your case. They will determine how much your case should be worth based on the types of damages you incur due to your injuries.
What are punitive damages in Gwinnett County rideshare cases?
Georgia law also allows for punitive damages if the liable party acted egregiously, for example, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Rideshare drivers who knowingly drive a defective vehicle can also be liable for paying the victim punitive damages.
Punitive damages only apply in cases where the at-fault party’s actions show willful misconduct, malice, fraud, or wantonness, revealing a conscious indifference to consequences. As opposed to compensable damages that compensate victims for their damages, punitive damages punish, penalize, or deter the at-fault party.
How long do I have to file my rideshare accident claim in Gwinnett County?
Time is of the essence if you have sustained injuries in a vehicle accident. Rideshare accidents are no different. Georgia has a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the accident. In other words, if you are going to file an injury lawsuit, you have to do so within two years of the date of the accident. If this date passes and you don’t file a claim, you lose your legal right to do so.
Two years might seem like a long time. However, waiting to reach out to a qualified Gwinnett County rideshare attorney can prove detrimental to your case. Your attorney needs time to examine the facts of your accident and injuries and to perform their own investigation. Then they must abide by the standard and legal framework for requesting damage compensation after an injury accident. They will need time to negotiate with those liable for your accident and their insurance companies. If they cannot obtain a fair settlement offer, they will then file a lawsuit.
They need as much time as possible between being hired and filing a lawsuit to prepare a substantial case on your behalf. You can help them by contacting them sooner rather than later after your rideshare accident.
Should I hire a Gwinnett County rideshare accident lawyer?
You have the right to handle your rideshare claim independently. You don’t have to hire a rideshare accident attorney. However, it is in your best interest to do so. Motor vehicle accident claims often become complicated fast. What might seem like a straightforward case with apparent liability and injuries, most of the time, is not.
With so many parties involved and multiple potential insurance coverages to draw from, rideshare accidents are more likely to be complicated than others. Handling your claim or litigation independent of a professional legal team is typically not only a significant challenge, but it can also be counterproductive to getting the compensation you need and deserve. Without an experienced rideshare accident attorney, you likely won’t achieve the best outcome possible in your claim.
There are several benefits to doing so to legal representation after a rideshare accident, the most obvious being increased compensation for your damages. Studies from the Insurance Research Council (IRC) reveal that individuals represented by a lawyer after a car accident receive about 3.5 times more compensation than injured parties who represent themselves.
Other benefits to hiring a lawyer after a rideshare accident include that they:
- Are skilled negotiators
- Can help you get the medical care you need
- Can provide peace of mind
- Help provide objectivity and aid in decision making
Schedule your consultation with an injury attorney at Braun’s Law Accident Injury Firm. You don’t need any money to meet with or hire us. We offer free case reviews and work on contingency fees only.
Contact a Knowledgeable Gwinnett County Rideshare Accident Lawyer Today
At Brauns Law, we help clients involved in a wide range of accidents, including rideshare crashes, throughout Gwinnett County and in the Atlanta area. We can evaluate what happened in your accident and advise you of the best way to proceed. If you suffered injuries, please don’t wait to call us at (404) 975-2576 or send us an email through our online contact form to set up your free consultation.