Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft have exploded in the United States in recent years, with more and more Americans choosing to drive for these companies either part or full time. According to some estimates, as many as 1.7 million drivers across the country may be working for Uber, Lyft, or both, while rideshare drivers provide approximately two million rides per day throughout the world.
With an increasing number of drivers working for rideshare services, it stands to reason that a spike in the number of rideshare accidents may be inevitable. Unfortunately, these types of collisions can be uniquely difficult for victims looking to recover compensation for their injuries.
If you have been hurt in an Uber accident, a Lyft crash, or some other collision in the Chicago area involving a rideshare vehicle, contact the Chicago rideshare accident attorneys at GWC Injury lawyers. For more than four decades, our law firm has been successfully fighting on behalf of wrongfully injured clients, obtaining more than $2.5 billion in verdicts and settlements. GWC’s rideshare accident lawyers have what it takes to get you the Uber or Lyft settlement or verdict that you and your family need to become whole again.
Rideshare Service Dangers That Cause Uber and Lyft Accidents
In many ways, the nature of gig work may motivate a driver for a rideshare service to take unnecessary risks to maximize compensation. Rideshare drivers are paid to use their personal vehicles to transport passengers for paid fares, with the company sharing its profits on the trips. While driver pay is calculated in part by the distance traveled, total payment is largely determined by the number of rides a driver can complete per day. As a result of this system of compensation, drivers may be incentivized to speed, which can sometimes lead to rideshare accidents that inflict serious injuries on their passengers and others on the road.
Because they receive fares and navigate using their smartphones, rideshare drivers may also be more likely to be distracted by their devices, further increasing the rate of serious rideshare crashes. Compounding this problem is the fact that many rideshare drivers are offering their services on more than one platform. For instance, rideshare drivers might work for Uber, Lyft, and even another competitor at the same time to keep up with local demand. Because of this, drivers may need to monitor multiple mobile devices while they are behind the wheel, which only adds to the likelihood of distraction-related rideshare accidents.
Additionally, rideshare drivers typically have less safety training than their professional taxi and limousine driver counterparts, which can make a rideshare crash more probable. Furthermore, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft usually do not meet with their drivers before hiring them or conduct background checks using fingerprints and assistance from law enforcement. Consequently, drivers with felony records may slip through the cracks in the system, putting rideshare passengers at risk. To date, over 200 women across the country have either reported or filed rideshare lawsuits over incidents of rape, sexual assault, stalking, kidnapping, and harassment by drivers for services like Uber and Lyft.
Faced with such dangers, many people may find themselves seeking financial compensation for injuries they sustained as a result of rideshare driver negligence, but pursuing an Uber or Lyft lawsuit can present its own special set of challenges.
For this reason, those who have been injured in an accident involving a rideshare company might find that they could benefit from working with seasoned personal injury lawyers, like the Chicago rideshare accident attorneys at GWC, one of Illinois’ leading Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms.
Troubling Rideshare Incidents
Rideshare accidents that result in injuries generally fit into one of three categories:
- Uber and Lyft passengers who get injured while riding in the vehicle.
- Other drivers and pedestrians who are injured because an Uber or Lyft driver is at fault.
- Uber and Lyft drivers who get injured when another driver is at fault.
Many notable incidents involving rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have garnered attention in the past decade, including rideshare accidents and other examples of negligence:
- Uber made a settlement with the family of a six-year-old girl who was killed by an Uber driver while she was walking with her mother and brother on a crosswalk in San Francisco.
- A Lyft driver significantly injured an 80-year-old great-grandmother who was working as a crossing guard in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago.
- A college student who was 24 years old filed an Uber lawsuit for the company’s failure to screen its drivers properly. She was paralyzed from the chest down in Dallas when her Uber driver blew through a red light and got T-boned by a pickup truck at an intersection.
- An Uber driver was charged with reckless homicide following an Illinois multi-vehicle crash.
- A man was seriously hurt and his passenger killed in a head-on crash with a Lyft driver who was operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.
- A motorcyclist who was 41 years old was killed by a Lyft driver who did not signal when he was turning left in the South Side neighborhood of Pilsen.
- An autonomous Uber that was involved in a test program killed a pedestrian in Tempe, AZ. The company subsequently shut down that program, and experts have suggested that defects in Uber’s technology could have been to blame.
Rideshare lawsuits have not only been limited to Uber and Lyft crashes. Certain high-profile civil actions have been filed against major rideshare services for misconduct, including the following:
- The City of Chicago reached a $4 million Lyft settlement in 2018 over the service’s failure to properly vet its drivers, one of whom was a convicted terrorist.
- In 2019, attorneys for nineteen women filed a Lyft lawsuit arguing that the company did not prevent its drivers from sexually assaulting them, then ignored their complaints.
- At least 103 American Uber drivers have faced accusations of sexually abusing passengers as well.
Rideshare Accidents and Financial Responsibility
One challenge that is specific to rideshare accidents involves the ambiguous nature of financial responsibility. In the United States, employers are typically monetarily liable for injuries and other damages caused by their on-duty employees. But rideshare services do not consider themselves traditional employers, and companies like Uber and Lyft have emphatically and repeatedly insisted that their drivers are not “employees,” but rather independent contractors. As these companies argue, the drivers can work as little or as often as they want to, they have no direct supervisors to whom they report, they do not receive benefits, and they are not eligible for workers’ compensation, so they would not qualify as classic employees.
Because of the employment status of rideshare drivers, a driver’s liability insurance on his or her own vehicle remains the first line of financial recovery for injuries sustained in a rideshare accident. Nevertheless, rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft provide additional insurance to supplement the liability insurance of its drivers in the event of a rideshare crash. Whether or not this supplemental insurance comes into play depends on whether the driver had the company’s app engaged at the time of the accident as well as whether he or she was picking up or transporting passengers, thereby making it a true Lyft or Uber accident.
Depending on what the driver was doing at the time of the rideshare crash, the amount of additional coverage from the rideshare service can range from nothing to as much as $1 million. Therefore, it is absolutely essential for an injured party and/or the attorney that he or she has hired to obtain accurate information about when exactly an Uber or Lyft accident occurred, since the impact on the potential rideshare settlement could be significant.
How Can Rideshare Passengers Protect Themselves in Chicago?
Chicagoans using services like Uber and Lyft face many potential dangers, so what can passengers do to protect themselves from a rideshare accident? There are different precautions they can take in the Chicago area. For instance, drivers for Uber and Lyft are required under Illinois law to display the company logo on their car’s front window. If your rideshare driver is not showing a company emblem, that driver might not actually work for the rideshare service, so it could be advisable to cancel the trip.
Additionally, rideshare drivers need to keep a current driver’s license and a copy of the insurance policy covering the vehicle with them at all times. Passengers can ask to see these documents, and if a driver refuses that request, it could be a bad sign.
You also have a right to tell an Uber or Lyft driver to stop using a smartphone if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Remember, your star rating is never as important as your safety.
Steps to Take After a Rideshare Accident
But no matter how many precautions you take, Uber and Lyft crashes can still occur. When they do, it can be difficult to know what to do next, especially if this is the first time you have suffered a serious motor vehicle collision. Nevertheless, as any capable lawyer can tell you, there are steps you can take in the immediate aftermath of a rideshare accident that can help you protect any future case you may have against the at-fault parties, including the following:
Keep a Clear Head
No matter how chaotic the situation may be, it is important to remain calm so you can accurately assess the facts around you.
Alert the Authorities
Dial 911 to ensure that police and emergency services will arrive at the scene. Police officers are responsible for interviewing anyone involved in a rideshare accident, including you, the Uber or Lyft driver, and other motorists who may have taken part. The Illinois Traffic Crash Report produced will provide invaluable support for your claim, so be sure to fully convey your version of events so that the report will be accurate.
Look for Evidence of Injuries or Intoxication
After alerting the authorities, check to see if you or your companions were injured. You should further look out for evidence that the motorists involved were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including your rideshare driver.
Seek Medical Treatment
Even if you do not believe that you were hurt, consult with a medical practitioner right away, ideally at the scene of your Lyft or Uber crash, since the symptoms of a serious injury may sometimes emerge only gradually. Any delays in receiving treatment could hinder your ability to recover and allow insurance companies and defense lawyers to cast doubt on the causal relationship between the rideshare accident and your injuries.
Obtain Driver and Witness Information
If you hired the rideshare driver in question, save that person’s name and Lyft or Uber account details for later use. If not, ask that driver for this information. Additionally, be sure to obtain the following from every motorist involved:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Insurance company and policy number
- License plate number
- Driver’s license number
Eyewitnesses can provide independent confirmation of what took place, so take down the name and number of anyone else who was present at the time of the Uber or Lyft crash.
Shoot Pictures and Videos
Contemporaneous visual documentation of the rideshare accident can help determine what exactly happened and who was to blame for it. When it is safe to do so, take out your cell phone and shoot pictures of the crash site, the vehicles involved, the injuries incurred, the damages inflicted, and any other relevant evidence, such as skid marks or busted traffic control devices. Video can also be useful for recording statements by the participants, witnesses, and bystanders.
Tell Your Insurance Company
If you were driving a vehicle involved in the accident or if you have an insurance policy that may apply, call your insurance company as soon as you can to learn about potential benefits, such as reimbursement for medical payments or the cost of towing and rental cars.
Talk to a Rideshare Accident Lawyer
A skilled attorney will be able to answer all your questions, explain your legal rights, and let you know what to expect if you are thinking about pursuing a rideshare lawsuit. This may be your first Uber or Lyft accident, but it won’t be the first for the defendant driver’s insurance carrier, who will count on your inexperience to minimize the value of your claim, or simply deny it altogether. Working with a knowledgeable rideshare accident lawyer early on can put you in the strongest position for success.
What Our Rideshare Accident Attorneys Can Do for You
A rideshare accident can happen an instant, but its effects can last a lifetime. You may quickly find yourself overwhelmed by mounting medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses from an Uber or Lyft crash, while your rideshare accident injuries may leave you physically unable to go to work as well. Simply making ends meet can become difficult, much less securing the resources necessary to stay afloat after a major Lyft or Uber crash, especially in the face of staunch opposition from insurance companies and defense attorneys willing to do whatever is necessary to minimize the financial exposure of the party or parties who harmed you.
To overcome the challenges ahead of you so you can finally get your life back on track, reach out to the dedicated Chicago rideshare accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers. For more than four decades, our law firm has been standing up for honest Chicago residents just like you who have been hurt through no fault of their own.
If you decide to hire GWC, our detail-oriented Uber and Lyft accident lawyers will launch a comprehensive investigation to identify and pursue everyone who may be at fault for your rideshare crash within the time permitted by law, known as the Statute of Limitations. The Statute for a Chicago Lyft or Uber accident is generally two years from the date of the collision, though the window can be far narrower in certain circumstances, so it is essential that you act quickly. Failing to file a rideshare lawsuit or otherwise resolve your case before the Statute expires could forever bar you from obtaining full and fair compensation for the rideshare accident injuries you sustained.
In addition to uncovering everyone who may be at fault for a rideshare crash, our detail-oriented injury attorneys will work tirelessly to assemble all the materials needed to support a claim against them, including:
- Police reports
- Traffic citations and dispositions
- Witness statements
- Crash scene photos
- Dash cam, traffic light, and surveillance footage
- Black box data
- Rideshare app information, including driver status at the time of the rideshare accident
- Phone records
- Driving histories
- Vehicle service logs
- Forensic analysis and accident reconstruction
If there is evidence of negligence that contributed to an Uber or Lyft crash, our tenacious rideshare accident lawyers will find it.
What Compensation Is Available for a Chicago Rideshare Accident?
After putting together the strongest case possible against all the parties at fault, the Chicago rideshare accident lawyers at our law firm will attempt to negotiate a settlement that reflects the entirety of your losses, including:
- Medical expenses – The costs of any hospitalizations, surgeries, procedures, courses of therapy, prescription medications, assistive devices, and past, present, and future treatments related to your Uber or Lyft accident could be taken into consideration.
- Lost wages – You may be reimbursed for the income you lost directly following a rideshare crash, and remuneration could be available as well as for any diminishment to your long-term earning capacity if you end up experiencing permanent disability from a Lyft or Uber accident.
- Pain and suffering – Significant non-monetary damages may be reflected in your rideshare settlement package, such as pain and suffering, mental and emotional trauma, and reduction in your quality of life.
- Loss of consortium – The spouse of a rideshare crash victim may be eligible to pursue a claim for any deprivation of the benefits of an intimate marital relationship secondary to injuries related to the accident.
- Punitive damages – Illinois courts sometimes levy further financial penalties on defendants whose actions display significant recklessness or moral turpitude to discourage similar misconduct from others.
If we do not receive an offer that is worthy of your case, we are not afraid to take it to trial to secure a verdict or judgment, that is, unlike many other law firms who rarely, if ever, step foot inside a courtroom. We will also tap into all avenues of financial recovery for your rideshare accident, including any applicable coverage provided by Uber or Lyft once a rideshare driver’s personal liability policy has been exhausted.
No two rideshare accidents are exactly the same, but rest assured that our law firm will always strive to maximize the value of yours.
What Will It Cost to Hire a Rideshare Accident Lawyer?
We realize your budget may be stretched to the breaking point at this moment. For this reason, you may be pleased to discover that it will cost you nothing up front to hire us because our law firm works on a contingency fee basis. Only when our rideshare accident lawyers successfully resolve your case will we seek reimbursement for our expenses and a fee for our services, typically as a percentage of your verdict or settlement.
At GWC, we will never get paid until you get paid, and the more you get paid, the more we get paid. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement that incentivizes our team of battle-tested attorneys to get you top dollar for your Uber or Lyft crash while sparing you additional burdens when you are already dealing with so many.
Chicago Rideshare Accident Attorneys Ready to Help You Now
GWC Injury Lawyers has the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation necessary to get you and your family the justice you deserve. If you have been injured in a rideshare crash or in some other way, our Chicago rideshare accident attorneys are ready to help you now.