No two accidents may be the same. However, certain types of accident claims can be much more complicated than others. In a two-vehicle collision between two drivers, there are generally only two parties involved and each of their insurance companies. With more parties, more companies, and more insurance companies getting involved, even a minor accident claim can turn into a long process.
Rideshare accidents, or any accident involving a Lyft or Uber driver, can involve multiple parties, multiple companies, and multiple insurance companies. A driver, cyclist, pedestrian, or passenger who is involved in an accident with a Lyft or Uber driver in Colorado can benefit from the experience of a personal injury attorney who understands how the rideshare companies handle these cases.
If you were injured in an accident involving a Lyft or Uber vehicle, talk to a Colorado rideshare injury lawyer about your rights. The attorneys at accidentdenver.com will investigate your case, deal with the rideshare company, and work to get you the maximum compensation after an injury assault in Denver. Contact us today for a free consultation.
How Are Rideshare Accidents Different in Colorado?
Rideshare accidents can be different, in part, because rideshare companies are relatively new in the car accident frontier. Cities and states are trying to come up with laws to regulate these companies and the companies keep operating within or outside the regulations. Rideshare liability is an evolving and ever-changing issue in Colorado and across the country. Some of the ways that rideshare accidents can be different include:
- New regulations for driver and rideshare company liability
- Different and changing in insurance coverage
- Questions about employee/employer liability
- Passenger claims against multiple drivers
- Possible liability because of the rideshare app
- Questionable hiring and training practices
New Regulations for Driver and Rideshare Company Liability
Rideshare drivers are not like private drivers and not quite like a taxi company. Rideshare companies are also known as transportation network companies (TNCs). According to Lyft and Uber, the companies facilitate rides between individuals through their mobile app. Like other sharing economy companies, these businesses are relatively new and not subject to a lot of regulation.
The good news for Colorado is that it is one of the states which has put into place some protections for people who may be involved in an accident with a rideshare driver. This includes requiring minimum insurance coverage to ensure injury victims will be able to recover some compensation after an accident. In 2015, Colorado became the first state to pass rideshare regulations, known as the Transportation Network Company Act (TNCA).
With changing regulations, it is important that your auto accident lawyer understands the specifics of how rideshare companies operate, how they may try and avoid liability, and ways to hold them liable for damages.
Different and Changing in Insurance Coverage
Colorado's TNC laws require minimum insurance coverage. Every transportation network company must maintain proof of insurance with the State of Colorado. The TNCA requires these rideshare policies to cover up to $1 million in liability damages “per occurrence for incidents involving a driver during a prearranged ride.”
Unfortunately for those who may be involved in an Uber or Lyft accident, the shifting insurance coverage issue can be confusing. The $1 million policy limits are only for periods where the rideshare drivers have accepted a fare until they drop off the fare. Essentially, there are 3 driver status options with 3 minimum insurance coverages.
- The Lyft or Uber driver has not turned on the app or is not actively looking for rides;
- The Uber or Lyft driver has activated the app is actively looking for rides but a ride has not been accepted;
- The Lyft or Uber driver accepted the ride, is on the way to pick up the accepted ride, is picking up the rider, is transporting the rider, or is dropping off the rider and completing the ride.
Personal Driver Status
When the driver has not turned on the app or is not looking for rides, the driver is covered by their personal, individual insurance coverage. Colorado laws require all drivers to have mandatory minimum coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person in an accident;
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all persons in any one accident; and
- $15,000 for property damage in any one accident.
On Duty But Waiting for a Ride Status
When the driver has marked themselves as available to offer rides on the app but has not engaged in a prearranged ride, the TNC or driver must maintain contingent liability insurance, with at least a minimum of:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person in an accident;
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death to all persons in any one accident; and
- $30,000 for property damage in any one accident.
Prearranged Ride Status
The TNCA defines the 3rd status as a “prearranged ride.” A prearranged ride means a period of time that begins when a driver has accepted a requested ride through the app, continues while the driver transports a rider, and ends when the rider departs from the vehicle. During the prearranged ride, Uber or Lyft's maximum coverage policy applies, with a limit of $1 million.
Questions About Employee/Employer Liability
TNCs like Uber and Lyft are very careful about how they describe their relationship with the drivers. A big part of this is because they do not want to be considered employers. In an employer/employee relationship, Uber and Lyft would be subject to many more requirements, including:
- Providing benefits,
- Minimum wage and overtime laws,
- Workers' compensation laws, and
- Liability for employee negligence.
Uber and Lyft will claim the drivers are not employees but are drivers using their personal vehicles. The company only helps arrange rides for compensation. However, in many ways, the rideshare companies are like employees.
Colorado has a multi-factor balancing test to determine whether the companies have an employer/employee relationship with drivers. If these factors show Uber or Lyft was an employer of the driver, Uber or Lyft could be vicariously liable for the negligence of one of their drivers. This would allow an accident victim to hold Uber or Lyft liable for damages.
Passenger Claims Against Multiple Drivers
A two-vehicle accident involving a rideshare company can act more like a multi-vehicle accident because there may be multiple claims against multiple parties. For example, if a driver is hit by an Uber driver with an Uber passenger, the claims could include:
- Driver claim against Uber,
- Driver claim against Uber driver,
- Uber driver claim against Uber,
- Uber driver claim against the other driver,
- Uber passenger claim against Uber,
- Uber passenger claim against Uber driver, and
- Uber passenger claim against the other driver.
Each of these parties may also have an insurance company that steps in to represent their interest. It may take months to figure out which party is primarily liable for the damages. Even then, there may be additional damages claims to figure out if the damages exceed the insurance liability limits.
This is one of the areas where the experience of a Colorado rideshare accident lawyer can be most helpful. An accident injury attorney with experience dealing with Uber, Lyft, and their insurance companies understand how to advocate to get their clients the maximum compensation after an injury accident.
Possible Liability Related to the Rideshare App
In a car accident claim between private drivers, a driver who is distracted by their phone, texting, or talking on the phone may be liable for causing the accident. For rideshare drivers, using the app is one of the inherent risks of rideshare driving. There are two ways this can make rideshare accidents different than other accidents.
First, in a regular car accident, it may be unclear if the driver was using their phone at the time which distracted them from the road. In all rideshare car accidents, the rideshare driver has to have the app live and active to complete the ride. This involves some level of entering information, either before or while driving. Your attorney may be able to gather information from phone and service providers to determine what the other driver was doing at the time of the accident. This may help your case to show the driver was distracted at the time of the accident.
Another way the app could affect liability is that the rideshare company may be responsible through the way they design, limit, and require use of the app. The rideshare companies claim that drivers are supposed to do everything they need with the app and mapping before starting the ride. However, with all the monitoring Uber and Lyft do of the driver and their driving habits, the companies may share some responsibility for when drivers are using their phones while driving, speeding, or otherwise driving in an unsafe manner.
Questionable Hiring and Training Practices
Rideshare companies may also share in the liability for causing an accident because of the way they screen and approve their drivers. Passengers who use these services expect the company to make sure their drivers are safe, are not violent criminals, and are competent drivers. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
The driver selection and training requirements for Lyft and Uber are minimum standards. There are many examples of these background checks not turning up dangerous driving offenses, sexual assaults, and other crimes of violence. From 2017 to 2018, Uber received almost 6,000 complaints of sexual assault from Uber passengers and drivers. Over this same period, at least 19 people were killed in assaults during or shortly after their Uber ride.
Rideshare accidents are not like other accidents. These rideshare companies should be held liable for the company practices that put passengers, drivers, and others on the road at risk of serious injury or harm.
Denver Rideshare Injury Lawyers
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have successfully represented rideshare passengers and other drivers in Colorado who were involved in a rideshare accident. Dealing with the rideshare and insurance companies alone can be an uphill battle. Our experienced attorneys will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.