All car accidents, regardless of who is driving or the type of vehicle involved, have the potential to be scary and to leave anyone affected by the accident with questions and worries about the future.
When an Uber car accident occurs, the damage can be especially troublesome; a victim of an Uber or Lyft car accident may not know how to sue Uber or another rideshare company, may have questions about the Uber accident policy, and may be unsure of how to start the claims process.
At the law offices of Kreizer Law, our Uber accident lawsuit lawyers can help you bring forth a claim after a rideshare accident and recover the rideshare settlement you deserve. To learn more, please reach out to our team today or send us a message to request a free consultation.
Common Causes of Rideshare Accidents
Rideshare accidents are caused in the same manner as all other motor vehicle accident types: via acts of negligence. Most of the time, the party who is negligent is one of the drivers involved – either the driver of the rideshare vehicle or the driver of the other vehicle.
Common acts of driver negligence that cause crashes include:
- Failing to yield;
- Following too closely/tailgating;
- Driving while distracted;
- Driving while impaired; and
- Failing to adhere to traffic safety laws and regulations.
While driver negligence is one of the most common causes of rideshare accidents, it is not the only one. Other things that can cause or contribute to the risk of a rideshare accident include:
- Passenger behavior. Rideshare passengers have a reputation of sometimes being unruly, especially if the reason that they are calling the rideshare service is because they are intoxicated. A passenger’s behavior could increase the risk of an accident, or even cause an accident in some cases.
- Defective vehicle parts. Vehicle manufacturers and distributors have a duty to ensure that vehicles are in safe condition; if a defect exists, the vehicle could be dangerous. Defective tires, brakes, ignition devices, and airbags are all common causes of accidents or/and injuries.
- Poor road conditions. Finally, while things like poor weather may be out of human control, other causes of dangerous road conditions–including potholes, a lack of proper signage, or debris in roadways for an extended period of time–are not. Usually, a city is responsible for ensuring that roads are maintained in good condition.
Understanding Rideshare Insurance – Who Will Pay Your Claim?
One of the most complicated elements of being involved in a rideshare accident is knowing who will pay your rideshare accident claim.
Who will pay for a rideshare accident depends on two primary things: who was at fault for the accident and which insurance policy applied at the time that the accident occurred (whether or not your injuries are serious may play a role in recovery, too – see more details about the verbal threshold below).
Consider the following about which insurance policy applies assuming the driver of the rideshare vehicle was at fault:
- If the driver was en route to pick up a driver or had a passenger in the car…. If the accident occurred while the Uber driver was en route to pick up a passenger or while the driver had a passenger within the car, then Uber’s insurance policy will apply. Uber maintains $1,000,000 in third-party liability coverage.
- If the driver has the app turned on and is waiting for a ride request… If the driver is not en route to pick up a passenger and is not transporting a passenger but is logged into the app and waiting for a ride request when the accident occurs, then Uber’s third-party liability insurance will apply if the driver’s personal insurance does not. Limits are $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and $100,000 per accident, as well as $25,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident.
- If the driver is using the rideshare vehicle for personal use… If a driver is not signed into their rideshare app and is instead using their vehicle for personal use, then that driver’s personal insurance, which is mandatory in our state, will apply.
Of course, there may be a situation where the Uber/rideshare driver is not at fault. If this is the case, the insurance company of the at-fault party will likely be responsible for paying for damages. Because New Jersey follows a system of no-fault insurance, most of the time, you can bring a claim with your own insurance company for compensation after an accident. Note that NJ Uber law also requires rideshare companies to maintain $1.5 million in liability and uninsured/underinsured coverage for passengers.
How to Sue Uber or Another Rideshare Company
If you have been involved in an accident with a rideshare driver, you may maintain the right to bring forth a claim directly against the rideshare company’s insurance (assuming one of the above conditions when the rideshare company insurance would apply is satisfied).
If you are not offered the settlement that you believe you deserve and settlement negotiations fail, you can file a lawsuit directly against the rideshare company. Typically, however, attempting to reach a settlement out of court first is advised.
Verbal Threshold in NJ – What’s That?
As stated above, you may be able to file a lawsuit after an Uber accident. However, whether or not you have the right to do this will be affected, in large part, by the NJ verbal threshold law and who was at fault for the accident.
Verbal threshold refers to a limitation on the right to sue. New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state, which means that when a driver is injured in an accident, if the driver has selected a basic insurance policy, they will be barred from filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party for damages; instead, they must turn to their own insurance’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage first.
However, there is an exception to the NJ verbal threshold rule. In the event that a victim suffers serious injuries, they may pursue noneconomic damages via a tort action. Serious injuries, per New Jersey Code Section 39:6A-8 include:
- Significant disfigurement or scarring;
- Displaced fractures;
- Loss of a fetus; and
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
Uber Law in NJ and the Verbal Threshold
Fortunately for those who are injured in rideshare accidents, the verbal threshold in NJ does not apply. This is because the limit to sue does not apply to transportation networks or damages arising from a prearranged ride. As such, you will need to meet the serious injury threshold if you are filing a lawsuit against a third-party driver in an Uber accident or if you are pursuing a claim against an Uber driver who was not working at the time of the accident; you will not need to meet the threshold if you are filing a claim for damages against the rideshare company itself.
How Can a Rideshare Accident Attorney Help?
Obtaining the rideshare settlement that you deserve can be difficult.
Not only will you need to prove that your accident and injuries would not have occurred but for the actions of the responsible party, but you’ll also need to prove the extent of damages you’ve suffered and be able to negotiate for a fair settlement amount (this is assuming that you are bringing a claim against the other party because your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, or you are bringing a claim against the rideshare company and not a third-party driver). Remember that insurance companies are eager to offer you less than you deserve, and if they think you’re desperate, they may significantly undervalue your claim.
When you call our Uber/Lyft accident lawsuit lawyers, we will work hard to gather the evidence that you need to win your case, including proof of negligence, causation, and damages.
Then, we will build your claim and organize evidence in a compelling manner and issue a demand letter to the insurer. When a settlement offer is made, we will review it and advise you as to whether or not you should accept it. We can represent you in all negotiations – our lawyers are skilled negotiators with years of experience.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
To learn more about Lyft and Uber accident policies and how to recover a fair settlement after a rideshare accident in New Jersey, reach out to our Uber accident lawsuit attorneys at the office of Kreizer Law for a free consultation at your convenience.
Call us toll-free (800) 4-JUSTICE ® – (800) 458-7842 to begin evaluating your case.