Fault, negligence, liability, and compensation are all part of a personal injury claim. In order to get compensation for injuries and losses after a ride-sharing accident, the injury victim may need to show the rideshare driver was at fault, the rideshare driver was negligent, and the driver or rideshare company is liable for damages.
Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber can pose a risk to passengers, other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists on the road. When an Uber or Lyft driver is involved in an accident, the accident victim may not be sure whether the driver or rideshare company is liable for damages. In some cases, both the rideshare driver and the rideshare company may be liable for an injury accident.
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com represent injury victims in Colorado rideshare accidents. We will investigate your claim, deal with the insurance and rideshare company, and fight to get you compensation after an accident. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Fault in a Colorado Rideshare Accidents
Some states are considered “no-fault states” when it comes to car accidents. In a no-fault state, each driver carries their own insurance to cover their own injuries and damages. This may include carrying personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Other states have optional or choice no-fault coverage available.
Like most states, Colorado is an at-fault state, or “tort state,” when it comes to car accidents. In Colorado, the insurance company of the driver who is at fault for the accident covers damages. Determining fault in a Colorado rideshare accident will determine who pays for the damages.
Fault of the Accident Victim
In some car accidents, multiple parties may share liability. Colorado is known as a “modified comparative negligence state.” Modified comparative negligence means that even if the plaintiff shares some responsibility for causing the accident, the plaintiff may still be able to recover damages.
Under modified comparative negligence, the damages recovered by the plaintiff will be reduced based on the plaintiff's degree of fault. However, if the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, the plaintiff cannot recover anything in damages.
For example, in a car accident with an Uber driver, the jury determines the Uber driver was 75% at fault for the accident and the other driver was 25% at fault. If the jury awards damages of $100,000 to the accident victim, their award will be reduced to $75,000, based on their degree of fault.
Negligence in Colorado Car Accidents
Negligence is the basis for most motor vehicle accident personal injury lawsuit. In order to recover damages, the plaintiff/injury victim in a car accident must prove all of the following by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The plaintiff had injuries, damages, or losses
- The defendant was negligent; and
- The defendant's negligence was a cause of the plaintiff's injuries, damages, or losses.
Negligence generally involves showing the rideshare driver who caused the accident breached a duty of care. Breaching the duty of care may involve violating traffic laws, driving recklessly, failing to avoid an accident, or driving while intoxicated.
The injury victim can present evidence that the driver acted in an unreasonable manner. This may include using the driver's statements, police investigation report, video recordings, insurance investigation, and eyewitness testimony. Evidence may show the driver was operating the vehicle in a negligent way, such as speeding, not watching the road, or driving after having a few drinks.
Negligence Per Se in Colorado Rideshare Accidents
Negligence can also be demonstrated through violation of a traffic law. Negligence per se means showing a driver was negligent simply because they violated a law or ordinance that is intended to prevent such an accident. To prove negligence per se, Colorado jury instructions provide:
- At the time of the occurrence in question in this case, the relevant statute or ordinance of the State of Colorado was in effect;
- A violation of the statute or ordinance constitutes negligence; and
- If you find such a violation, you may only consider it if you also find that it was a cause of the claimed injuries, damages, or losses.
For example, under CRS Section 42‑4‑1101, “No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.”
The limit for residential areas is 30 miles per hour. One of the reasons to limit the speed in residential areas to 30 miles per hour is to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians and residents.
A Lyft driver is in a hurry to pick up a fare from a home in Littleton. The driver is going 40 miles per hour through the neighborhood when a child runs out from behind a parked car. The Lyft driver hits the child, causing the child to suffer a broken leg.
In this situation, the Lyft driver may be negligent per se because there was a law that limited the speed to 30 mph, the driver violated that law, and the violation was a cause of the child's injuries.
Negligence and the Duty of Care for Rideshare Drivers in Colorado
Rideshare drivers owe a duty of care to others, just like any other driver. Unfortunately, rideshare drivers may be more likely to violate certain traffic laws and reasonable driving practices just by the way they operate. Common causes of rideshare accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Lack of experience on Colorado roads
- Traffic violations
- Deadheading and unnecessary time on the road
- Drowsy driving
Distracted driving may be the most common cause of rideshare accidents. Lyft and Uber drivers may take their attention away from the road by:
- Entering information on the rideshare app
- Mapping their trip
- Selecting music
- Talking on the phone
- Talking to passengers
- Looking for their passenger
- Looking for a place to pull over
Negligence of Rideshare Companies
In a car accident involving a Lyft or Uber driver, the rideshare company may try and avoid any claim that the company was a cause of the accident. However, the rideshare company may be negligent in causing the accident. The rideshare company could be negligent in:
- Hiring an unsafe driver,
- Hiring a driver with a criminal record of violence or sexual assault,
- Hiring a driver with multiple traffic violations,
- Hiring a driver with a history of DUIs,
- Hiring an inexperienced driver,
- Hiring a driver with medical conditions that make driving dangerous, or
- Defects in the rideshare app.
Colorado passed new laws to regulate transportation network companies (TNCs) like Lyft and Uber. TNCs are required to make sure drivers meet minimum qualifications, which include:
- Driving history check,
- Criminal background check,
- Driver's license validity,
- Proof of medical fitness
- Vehicle inspection, and
- Maximum driving hours.
If the rideshare company fails to ensure drivers meet the minimum standards, the company may be subject to a civil penalty. However, if the violation is related to an accident or injury, the injury victim may be able to seek damages directly from the rideshare company.
For example, Uber permits a person with a criminal history of sexual assault to be a driver. The Uber driver picks up a passenger who has been drinking. The Uber driver takes the passenger to an abandoned parking lot and sexually assaults the passenger. The passenger may be able to file a claim against Uber for approving the driver or failing to warn the passenger.
Liability in Rideshare Accidents
Liability in a rideshare accident means one or multiple parties are legally responsible for the damages. In a car accident between an Uber driver and a regular driver, if the Uber driver is found to be at-fault for causing the accident, the Uber driver will be liable for paying for the damages.
All drivers in Colorado are required to carry “liability insurance.” Liability insurance protects others from bodily injury or property damage caused by the insurance policy holder. In Colorado, the minimum insurance liability coverage is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person;
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all persons; and
- $15,000 for property damage.
On Duty Liability Coverage
If the driver is logged into the app, waiting on a fare, but yet accepted a fare, the driver is covered in the following amounts:
- $50,000 for bodily injury per person;
- $100,000 for bodily injury per accident (for all persons injured);
- $25,000 for property damage per accident.
Accepting a Ride or With a Passenger Liability Coverage
If the rideshare driver has a passenger in the vehicle, or is on the way to pick up a passenger, the rideshare company's primary insurance applies in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) per accident.
Vicarious Liability for Rideshare Companies
The rideshare companies are careful to try and distance themselves from the actions of their drivers. Part of this is to keep them classified as “independent contractors” instead of “employees.” As independent contractors, the rideshare companies can avoid certain responsibilities, like paying drivers a minimum wage or giving drivers benefits.
Another aspect of trying to maintain that drivers are independent contractors is to avoid vicarious liability. Employers are liable for the negligence of their employees who are acting in the scope of their employment. For example, if a fast-food employee spills hot coffee on a customer, the employee's negligence may extend to the fast-food company.
Just because the rideshare company claims they are not responsible for the actions of their drivers does not mean they get to escape liability. Talk to your rideshare accident attorney about your case. If a jury finds that Lyft or Uber qualifies as an employer in your case, Lyft or Uber may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of the driver.
What if I can't prove fault, negligence, and liability after a ridesharing accident?
Fault, negligence, and liability are part of a personal injury lawsuit. However, you may not be sure that you can prove each element of the claim beyond a preponderance of the evidence. Even if you are not sure who is at fault and if the rideshare company is liable, talk to your Denver rideshare accident lawyer.
In reality, most personal injury claims are settled before they go to trial. You may be able to get a settlement even if it is not clear if the Lyft or Uber driver was responsible for the accident. If you have a strong case and your lawyer is an experienced litigator, there may be a greater chance of getting a better settlement offer.
Compensation After a Rideshare Accident
Compensation is the money or award received that is intended to put the accident victim into a similar position they would have been if not for the accident. This can be impossible to do for someone who suffers loss of a limb, permanent scarring, or death of a loved one. However, compensatory damages can go a long way to help the victim move on after the accident.
Compensatory damages in an auto accident are generally classified as economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the direct costs of the accident to the injury victim. This may include:
- Cost of car repair or replacement,
- Rental car costs during repair,
- Lost wages from not being able to work,
- Loss of income potential caused by a permanent injury,
- Medical expenses, and
- Anticipated costs of future medical care.
Non-economic damages may be more difficult to quantify. These are damages for injury victims who have suffered non-pecuniary harm, such as:
- Pain and suffering,
- Permanent disability,
- Loss of a limb,
- Paralysis, and
Wrongful Death Compensation After a Rideshare Accident
After a family member is killed in a ridesharing accident, the spouse, heirs, or beneficiaries can file a wrongful death claim. Compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit is based on losses to the family. This includes the costs directly related to the accident as well as losses associated with the deceased no longer being able to contribute to the family. Compensation in a wrongful death claim can include:
- Medical bills,
- Property damage,
- Funeral expenses,
- Burial costs,
- Loss of the decedent's services,
- Loss of the decedent's income, and
- Loss of the benefits.
Ridesharing Accident Injury Lawyers
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have successfully represented their clients and families in Denver who were involved in an injury accident with Lyft and Uber drivers to get compensation for their losses. Our attorneys understand how the ridesharing companies operate and will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.