Rideshare Accidents in Virginia
What you need to know about Uber accidents or Lyft accidents in Virginia
With ridesharing becoming more popular and easier to use, more people are using ridesharing vehicles like Uber and Lyft to transport them around Virginia and the surrounding areas. Although Uber and Lyft operate in similar ways to taxis–they pick passengers up and drop them off–the rules regarding Uber and Lyft aren’t necessarily the same as taxis. The laws and insurance policies that govern ridesharing companies are complex, which is why you need an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney to help you with your claim.
As convenient as Uber and Lyft rides are, they still come with risks. You are in a vehicle you don’t own and can not control with a driver you don’t know. There is a chance of an Uber crash or a Lyft crash in Virginia, and if that happens, there is a risk of serious injury to you.
What we often see with Uber or Lyft accidents is that the injured passengers are often left out of the exchange of information regarding the involved drivers, the auto insurance policies, and even the police investigation.
If that happens, you’ll have to deal with recovering from your injury and trauma while fighting for compensation and determining which insurance companies or defendants to file claims against. You’ll also have to battle against allegations that you were in some way responsible for the injuries you suffered–or that you didn’t suffer injuries at all.
Common Causes of Rideshare Accidents
- Distracted Driving – how many times have you seen your driver checking the rideshare app, GPS, and their phone?
- Tired and Drowsy Driving
- Failure to Yield the Right of Way
- Failure to Obey Traffic Signals
- Reckless or Aggressive Driving
- Impaired Driving
- Failure to Maintain Control of the Vehicle
- Road conditions, construction, and hazards
Our role as your attorney is to fight on your behalf, so you can spend your time and energy on healing following your Virginia rideshare accident. At Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC, we have decades of experience in Virginia personal injury law, and we have helped clients fight against insurance companies claiming they lied about their injuries and that they were responsible for the damage done to them.
We know how insurance companies think, and we can help you avoid the missteps that harm your claim.
Here are some other important things to keep in mind following an Uber accident or Lyft accident in Virginia.
It’s important to call the police
Regardless of whether you were a driver or a passenger in a car accident, it is always important to call the police so they can secure the scene, investigate the accident, and prepare a report. This can help strengthen your case and establish that you were involved in a rideshare at the time of the crash.
If your driver refuses to stop at the scene or otherwise impedes your ability to call the police, you will be able to find your driver’s information in the rideshare app. However, it is important to screenshot otherwise save the app data immediately. You will want to be able to show the details of when and where the ride originated, the destination, the driver’s name and vehicle information, and your proof of payment. This information will be very important for your lawyer’s use in protecting your claim.
You will also see in the rideshare app that you can contact the rideshare company directly to report the accident and your problems with the driver.
Whether your driver stops at the accident scene or not, try to take note of any relevant information you can easily observe: your location (street name, intersection, city/county), the make and model of the other vehicle involved in the collision, and the license plate of that other vehicle.
If you are able, it is also important to also record the contact information of any potential witnesses who can also verify what happened.
Take a screenshot of your Uber/Lyft trip details
This is vital. If at all possible, immediately following your Uber/Lyft accident in Virginia, take a screenshot of the trip details in the app itself. This verifies that you were indeed in the vehicle when you said you were, shows who your driver was, and establishes your route details. You will want to be able to show the details of when and where the ride originated, the destination, the driver’s name and vehicle information, and your proof of payment.
If you don’t do this, you may lose that information, which makes your claim harder to prove. Take for example the situation one of our previous clients faced: One of our clients was involved in a rideshare accident and called the rideshare customer service for a second driver to pick her up. When the rideshare company sent the second driver, they did not charge for the first trip and as a result of that no-charge action, details from the first trip were wiped from the app.
Take photos of the accident and area if it is safe to do so
If you can get yourself out of the vehicle and take photos of the scene safely, it’s a good idea to do so. This further establishes that an accident occurred and that you were in the vehicle when it happened. Photos taken by police, if any, may be difficult to obtain–if you aren’t the driver of any involved vehicle police may not automatically share information with you, so the more evidence you have of the Lyft accident or Uber accident scene, the better for your claim.
That said, your safety is the most important concern. If you’re injured or if it’s unsafe to take photos, do not put yourself in harm’s way to do so.
Determining what insurance is available in your Uber accident or Lyft accident is complicated
Travel in Virginia is complex because many people are moving between states and Washington DC, and where a trip originated may determine what insurance is available to you. If you started in DC but ended in Maryland or Virginia–or vice versa–you may have different insurance options available to you.
It also depends on the type of insurance the driver had. That’s because you’re in a personal vehicle, unlike a taxi, which is a commercial vehicle. If you’re injured while on an Uber ride or Lyft ride, you may be able to file a claim against the driver but if the driver only had personal insurance your claim might be denied because the driver was involved in a commercial activity. If the driver had commercial auto insurance or a personal injury policy that provides coverage for ridesharing, you may be more successful.
Otherwise, you may have to file a claim against Uber’s liability insurance.
If another motorist–not your Uber driver–was at fault, you may need to file a claim or a lawsuit against their insurance. If both parties were responsible for the accident, you may need to file claims against both insurance carriers.
Sorting out who to file your claim with is a complex process in itself and depends on a number of factors, including where the trip began, where the accident occured, who was at fault and what insurance everyone involved had.
Uber and Lyft drivers are considered contractors, not employees
Because drivers who work for Lyft and Uber are considered independent contractors and not employees, Uber and Lyft can more easily claim they are not responsible for accidents involving its drivers. While you may be able to file a claim against their insurance policy, you may not be able to file a lawsuit against either of the companies.
That said, there are rules governing the ridesharing industry and if they violate those rules, and those violations result in an accident, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. For example, rideshare companies in Virginia must
- Conduct criminal and driving history background checks of drivers
- Not hire drivers who have drunk driving convictions
- Require all drivers to obtain an annual vehicle safety inspection
- Hire only drivers who are at least 21 years of age
- Provide $1 million in liability coverage, which covers the passenger from the moment they are picked up to the moment they are dropped off.
In all, determining who you can file a claim against and under what circumstances can be complicated. That’s why it’s so important to work with someone who can determine how to obtain proper compensation following your Virginia rideshare accident.
I’ll sort through the facts of your case to determine the best means of obtaining fair compensation for you.
Trust your gut
Above all else, if something doesn’t feel right as you get into the vehicle, or if you suspect there is any chance the driver might be impaired or otherwise a danger to you, trust your instincts and don’t get in. You can always wait for another ride. It’s not worth the risk to you.
Don’t talk to the insurance company
Virginia follows the principle of contributory negligence, which means if you are even slightly responsible for the accident that harmed you, you aren’t eligible to receive any compensation. That might seem unlikely in an accident where you were the passenger, but insurance companies use all sorts of tactics to make it seem you have some responsibility.
They may argue that your injuries were preexisting or that you weren’t injured at all. They may argue that you made the injuries worse by not getting proper medical attention or not following medical advice. They have a list of arguments they’ll make to minimize or deny your claim.
Additionally, they may try to get you to make an official statement so they can use your words against you later. They’ll do all this while you’re suffering from the stress and trauma of recovering from your Virginia rideshare crash because they hope that if they throw enough at you, you’ll either give up your claim or you’ll say something that strengthens their case against you.
How I help you following your Virginia Uber accident or Virginia Lyft accident
You need time and energy so you can heal physically and emotionally but navigating the insurance process is overwhelming and frustrating. They take your focus away from recovering and rely on the fact that you aren’t experienced at navigating these situations. They’ll try to take advantage of your frustration to minimize their payment to you.
That’s why you need someone experienced in Virginia personal injury law on your side. I’ve been a personal injury attorney for decades, and I’ve seen accident victims in many different scenarios. I know how the systems work and I know how to navigate them to give you the best opportunity to recover financially, physically and emotionally.
I take the stress from the claim off you by
- Communicating with insurance companies
- Collecting evidence to support your claim
- Determining who to file claims against
- Advocating for your rights at every step of the process
- Fighting for fair compensation
- Negotiating where reasonable with insurance companies
- Protecting you from any actions that could harm your case
- Maximizing the amount you recover
- Guiding you so you can make informed decisions
- Defending you against unreasonable allegations from the insurance companies
- Pursuing a fair settlement if possible or taking your case to court if necessary.
I’ve helped many people like you.
The bottom line
You don’t have to fight against the insurance companies alone. I’m here to help you, guide you, inform you of your options and help you get your life back following your Uber or Lyft accident.
Contact me to find out how I can help you with your accident claim.
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