Philadelphia Rideshare Accident Lawyer
Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have turned the personal transportation industry on its head in the last decade. Previously, getting a ride meant calling a cab, waiting for a bus, or jumping on a train. Today, would-be passengers can open an app on their phone and have a car waiting for them in minutes. By providing convenient access to on-demand transportation, rideshare companies have exploded in popularity. More than 15 percent of Americans presently use rideshare services, and the numbers continue to grow.
Unfortunately, the growth in ridesharing as a transportation alternative has come with a downside. Careless, reckless, or malicious rideshare drivers have put passengers, cyclists, pedestrians, and other motorists at risk wherever rideshare companies operate. Accidents involving rideshares occur regularly, and cause serious injuries and tragic fatalities. Though regulation of the ridesharing industry has grown in recent years, rideshare passengers and others still face a potential quagmire in seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a rideshare-related crash in Philadelphia.
If you have suffered injuries at the hands of a rideshare driver in Philadelphia, you deserve compensation for injuries. Contact the skilled Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at The Levin Firm for a free consultation to discuss the circumstances that led to your injuries and to determine the best course of action for your situation.
Ridesharing Company Laws in Pennsylvania
In 2016, Pennsylvania passed legislation to regulate rideshare companies, legally referred to as transportation network companies. Insurance, vehicle, and licensing requirements are some of the most important aspects of the new law because they help protect passengers and others who share the road with rideshare drivers.
Below is a broad overview of Pennsylvania’s laws regarding rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.
- Transportation network companies (TNCs) must maintain meticulous records of their drivers including proof of insurance, criminal background checks, driving history, proof of a driver’s license, and proof of vehicle registration and inspections.
- TNCs must also keep vehicle records that include the make, model, and license plate.
- Rideshare drivers must maintain primary auto insurance or the company must provide the insurance on behalf of the drivers.
- Drivers who are not transporting passengers, but are logged onto the company’s digital network must have $50,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 of property damage coverage.
- Drivers must carry Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance for medical benefits which includes $25,000 for pedestrians and $5,000 for a driver, regardless of whether they are logged in to the rideshare app.
- Drivers who are transporting passengers must carry at least $500,000 in coverage for death, bodily injury, and property damage.
- Rideshare vehicles must meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and have at least four doors.
- Rideshare vehicles cannot be more than 10 years old, nor can they have more than 350,000 miles.
- Rideshare vehicles in Pennsylvania must undergo Department of Transportation inspections, which PennDot randomly audits.
- Vehicles can not have large dents, loose bumpers, or vandalism. Additionally, door handles, seat belts, windows, interior lights, and air conditioning must be functional. The vehicle must also be clean without large tears in the leather or upholstery.
- Rideshare drivers must meet several qualifications under Pennsylvania law. In addition to holding a valid driver’s license, rideshare drivers must be 21 years old and have less than three moving violations within the previous three years.
- Pennsylvania law disqualifies rideshare drivers for most felony convictions in the previous seven years. Those convicted of sexual offenses or violent crimes cannot legally drive for a rideshare company in Pennsylvania.
- TNCs must do follow-up background checks one year after a driver begins and every two years beyond.
Common Philadelphia Rideshare Accident Injuries
Injuries that a rideshare passenger, a pedestrian, a cyclist, or another person in a motor vehicle may suffer in an accident include:
- Broken and crushed bones
- Head traumas and traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries and organ damage
- Amputation and limb crush
No matter what kind of injury a Philadelphia car accident causes, the team at The Levin Firm has the experience and know-how to evaluate a crash victim’s financial needs and to pursue the parties at fault for compensation.
Causes of Philadelphia Ridesharing Accidents
Fans and users of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft claim that these companies promote traffic safety by taking potentially dangerous drivers off the road, especially late at night. Yet, ridesharing companies have also garnered negative media attention for their unsafe drivers. Regardless of whether you have had a Uber accident or a Lyft accident Specific data is not available because rideshare companies do not share it, but some of the most common causes of ridesharing accidents in Philadelphia and other large cities throughout the nation include:
Distracted Driving Rideshare Accidents
Distracted driving refers to any activity that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or minds away from driving. Cell phones are one of the most common driving distractions, but recent nationwide crackdowns have helped curb dangerous behaviors like texting and driving. Yet, rideshare drivers need to use their cell phones regularly to log in and out of the app they use to find passengers. This can distract them from safe driving.
Rideshare drivers also find passengers distracting particularly intoxicated or unruly riders. Other motorists also put rideshare drivers at risk for accidents and injury when they drive distracted. Some other behaviors that can distract drivers and cause an accident include personal grooming, adjusting vehicle features, eating, drinking, and watching an event outside the vehicle.
Speeding Rideshare Accidents
Rideshare drivers get paid per trip, so they have an incentive to make as many trips as possible during a shift. This predictably results in them rushing from one destination to another. Rideshare passengers are also eager to get to their destinations quickly. Speeding makes it more difficult for drivers to control a vehicle, especially when confronted with a road hazard or another vehicle making a quick maneuver. Speeding also increases the force of a collision, resulting in more severe injuries and a higher likelihood of fatality.
Rideshare drivers who speed likely disobey other traffic regulations, too. Their speeding can easily lead to failing to yield to another driver, or to accidentally running traffic lights or stop signs. Each of these violations can lead to serious traffic collisions.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance Rideshare Accidents
As noted above, Pennsylvania law requires that rideshare drivers have their vehicles inspected. That is helpful, but still, inspections do not guarantee that a driver will properly maintain a vehicle throughout the year. Poorly maintained vehicles suffer mechanical failures that can lead to dangerous accidents.
Some examples of situations where poor vehicle maintenance can lead to a crash and severe injuries include:
- The failure to fill and change fluids like oil, wiper fluid, and antifreeze can cause engine failure. If a rideshare vehicle stalls in the middle of traffic or a busy street, a collision is likely.
- The failure to rotate and change worn and old tires can lead to a blowout. Tire blowouts often cause drivers to lose control and can lead to a treacherous traffic collision.
- Failure to inspect and maintain braking systems such as pads, rotors, and drums can lead to brake failure. A severe traffic accident can occur if brakes go out on a highway or at an intersection.
Drowsy Driving Rideshare Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 7 percent of all traffic accidents and 16 percent of all fatal traffic accidents occur as a result of drowsy driving. Fatigued driving is rampant among professional drivers. The law does not require rideshare drivers to hold a commercial drivers’ license (CDL), even though they spend the same amount of time behind the wheel others who drive for a living, such as truckers, who must carry that license.
If anything, rideshare drivers are even more prone to drowsy driving than other professional drivers because of a lack of regulations about how long they work in a day, and because they frequently drive as a side hustle, after ending a day’s work at another job.
Uber and Lyft have instituted company-wide policies that prohibit drivers from operating more than 12 hours and 14 hours respectively. Yet, it’s not difficult for drivers to get around these rules. The time limits only refer to the amount of time a driver spends logged-in to an app. However, drivers often drive for both major rideshare companies, so they can defeat the limits by signing out of one company’s app and signing-in to the other’s.
Even drivers who follow the rules closely can suffer from dangerous fatigue their lives otherwise prevent them from getting enough quality sleep. Drowsy driving creates more than just the danger of a driver falling asleep at the wheel. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), tasked with regulating the trucking industry, has found that drivers who go without sleep for 18 hours have the same level of impairment that a driver who has a blood or breath alcohol level of at the legal limit of 0.08.
Drunk/Drugged Driving Rideshare Accidents
Using controlled substances while driving poses the same risks to Uber drivers as to any other driver. Impaired driving prevents drivers from reacting appropriately to road conditions and hazards. Uber and Lyft have strict zero-tolerance policies for substance use and encourage riders to report drivers who they suspect are under the influence. Yet without random drug and alcohol screenings, these rules are not particularly effective.
Even though ridesharing companies must immediately suspend drivers who receive complaints for drug and alcohol use, and initiate a complete investigation into the complaint, oftentimes they will not find out about a problematic driver until after an accident has left someone seriously injured, or worse.
It is not only drunk rideshare drivers that rideshare customers need to worry about, either. Other motorists who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause a severe accident with a rideshare vehicle. For example, an allegedly intoxicated Canadian man crashed into a Lyft vehicle in Philadelphia. The accident led to the death of one passenger and injuries for the passenger’s wife and the Lyft driver.
Philadelphia Ridesharing FAQ
Not only does ridesharing across Philadelphia offer personal transportation when you do not have a vehicle available—the perfect solution for travelers to the City of Brotherly Love—it also gives people out-on-the-town a convenient option for avoiding drinking and driving.
Ridesharing does, however, bring with it some hazards. Do you have questions related to ridesharing or ridesharing accidents in Philadelphia? Contact the experienced Philadelphia ridesharing accident injury attorneys at the Levin Firm today. In the meantime, check below for the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about ridesharing accidents.
1. Do drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other services have to obtain special certifications to offer rides?
Unfortunately (in our view), no. Uber and Lyft require a minimum age of 21, at least a year of driving experience, a valid driver’s license, current insurance, and a clean, reliable vehicle. Other than that, drivers need no special certifications or training to drive for either company. If you get a ride from an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you should expect no greater safety precautions than you would expect from any other driver, and no safer vehicle than any other, either.
2. Who pays my medical bills if I suffer an injury in an accident with a rideshare driver?
As the injured person who sought and received medical care, you have ultimate responsibility for paying your bills. How you pay those bills, however, is another question with lots of potential answers, depending on the circumstances of your accident and injuries.
Some potential sources of payment for your medical bills include:
- Your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. In Pennsylvania, if you have a valid driver’s license and register a car in the Commonwealth, then you must carry personal injury protection insurance. Your PIP insurance coverage serves as your first line of financial protection if you suffer injuries in any type of motor vehicle-related accident (even one in which you were not the driver). Many licensed drivers choose to use Uber while traveling or after an evening of drinking. If they suffer injuries in an accident, then they may turn first to their PIP insurance to pay for medical and disability-related expenses related to the crash.
- Your health and/or long-term disability insurance. Any medical or long-term disability insurance you carry may pay a substantial portion of your medical expenses related to any type of accident. Contact your medical insurance company to learn how much coverage you have in the event of an accident, especially one involving serious injuries that may require long-term care. You may also need to notify your insurance company about the conditions that led to the accident, since this can affect the way your insurance company handles your claim.
- Seek compensation from anyone with legal liability for your injuries. You may have the legal right to seek compensation from the driver who caused the accident (and that driver’s insurance policy), or from any other individual or entity whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions led to the crash that harmed you. Speak with an experienced Philadelphia rideshare accident injury lawyer to learn more about your rights.
3. What if I suffered injuries as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle? Does the rideshare driver’s insurance policy pay?
As the passenger in a rideshare vehicle, you may have the legal right to seek compensation from that driver’s insurance policy if you suffer serious injuries in an accident. Both Uber and Lyft also provide extensive supplemental insurance coverage for their drivers when they have passengers in the vehicle. You may seek payment from the insurance coverage provided by the rideshare company to help pay for your expenses and losses related to the accident.
4. Can I still get compensation if I suffered injuries in an accident with a rideshare driver who did not have a passenger in the car?
Yes, but the amount of potential insurance coverage available to pay you may vary. Uber or Lyft drivers driving for their own purposes, with their apps turned off, typically carry only their own personal auto insurance coverage to protect them against financial liability for causing an accident. However, even if the driver does not have a passenger in the vehicle, if the driver has the ridesharing app engaged, the supplemental insurance provided by the ridesharing company will likely provide some additional coverage for victims if the driver causes an accident.
Uber and Lyft both offer $50,000 bodily injury coverage per person injured in an accident when a rideshare driver waits for a ride with the app turned on or drives to pick up a passenger. This supplemental coverage (meaning coverage in addition to the driver’s own auto insurance policy) provides $100,000 maximum in bodily injury coverage per accident, even if multiple parties suffer injury. It also provides up to $25,000 in compensation for damaged property.
5. How much compensation should I expect after an accident with a rideshare driver?
It varies depending on the circumstances of the accident and your injury. Contact an attorney to discuss the compensation you should expect following any Philadelphia ridesharing accident
Multiple factors can influence the compensation you receive, including:
- Did the driver have a passenger at the time of the accident? Both Uber and Lyft insurance provide much higher levels of coverage—up to $1,000,000—for individuals injured when the driver has a passenger in the vehicle (even if the person injured is not the passenger). If the driver did not have a passenger at the time of the accident, but still had the app on, coverage drops considerably.
- How many people suffered injuries in the accident? Rideshare insurance policies, like other auto insurance policies, offer maximum coverage amounts per accident as well as per individual. If more than two parties suffered severe injuries in the accident, it may influence the compensation each injured party can receive.
- What did your financial losses from the accident look like? Compensation after a rideshare accident should pay for many of your expenses related to the accident. An experienced Philadelphia ridesharing accident attorney has the skill and know-how to calculate the compensation you deserve under Pennsylvania law for your injuries.
6. How will I receive compensation if another driver caused an accident when I was a passenger in a rideshare vehicle?
Every case differs. In general, however, in that circumstance you may have the right to receive compensation from the other driver (or, usually, that driver’s insurance policy), and potentially also from the supplemental insurance the ridesharing company provides to its drivers. Even if the other driver does not carry adequate (or any) insurance, the ridesharing company’s supplemental insurance may cover you by providing uninsured or under-insured motorist benefits. Speak with an experienced Philadelphia ridesharing crash injury lawyer today to learn more about your potential rights to compensation.
7. What should I do to protect myself after an accident involving a rideshare?
If you suffer injury in an accident involving a rideshare, the steps you take at the scene of the accident and in the days and weeks to follow can affect the compensation you may have the right to receive for your injuries.
Follow these tips to protect your rights.
- Call 911 and wait for the first responders to arrive. Never leave the scene of any Philadelphia ridesharing accident. Although you, personally, likely do not bear any legal responsibility for the accident, you are an important witness to it and the police need to hear what you have to say. Also, you may have suffered an injury, perhaps one you do not immediately feel, so staying at the scene ensures an EMT can check you over. Finally, leaving the scene could put your legal rights to compensation at risk. Your name appearing on the police accident report as a person present at the time of the accident can serve as evidence that the crash injured you, for example.
- Seek medical attention immediately, even if you do not go to the emergency room in an ambulance. Even if you think you did not suffer serious injury in the Philadelphia ridesharing crash, go to a hospital or urgent care facility immediately to have even “minor” injuries evaluated by a trained medical professional. Some potentially life-threatening or severely disabling injuries do not exhibit symptoms right away, but still require immediate treatment. By getting medical care immediately (or no later than 24 hours after the crash), you protect your health and wellbeing. You also generate medical records that may serve as important evidence of your injury in a later legal proceeding.
- Contact an attorney ASAP. Any time you suffer injuries in a Philadelphia motor vehicle accident, including in connection with a rideshare, make sure you contact an attorney as soon as possible. You may have important legal rights to receive a substantial amount of compensation, but you must act quickly to protect and make the most of them. Do not wait to seek skilled legal advice. Contact a Philadelphia ridesharing crash lawyer today.
8. The rideshare driver’s insurance company called and offered me a settlement. Do I still need a lawyer?
Yes, you do. Do not make the mistake of thinking that an out-of-the-blue settlement offer from a friendly representative of the rideshare driver’s insurance company will pay you anything close to the amount of money you deserve for your injuries and losses. It won’t. The insurance company makes an offer like that hoping to take advantage of your ignorance of the potential value of your claim. Not only will accepting it leave you empty-handed when you realize how much money you really need to treat your injuries and pay expenses, it will also sacrifice your legal rights.
You need an experienced Philadelphia ridesharing lawyer to evaluate any settlement offer you receive from anyone’s insurance company. Lawyers for rideshare crash victims have years of experience calculating their clients’ present and future financial needs, and negotiating hard against insurance companies and defense lawyers to make sure they pay what they owe, not just what they hope you will take as a quick settlement.
9. Can I file a claim against Uber or Lyft directly, instead of going through the driver’s insurance policy?
Maybe. Speak with an experienced Philadelphia ridesharing lawyer to find out for sure.
As a general proposition, most ridesharing accidents—like any Philadelphia motor vehicle accident—get resolved through dealing with insurance carried by the drivers involved. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes, it turns out that some other individual or entity took unreasonably dangerous actions that caused the crash. In those cases, those other parties may have legal liability.
In that sense, even ridesharing companies could have liability to you for your injuries and losses. These companies fight hard to avoid that liability, unsurprisingly, by insisting that their drivers are independent contractors for whose actions they need not answer. Still, in some circumstances your lawyer may have an opportunity to prove that your crash and injuries would not have happened were it not for the ridesharing company’s own conduct. A skilled Philadelphia ridesharing crash injury lawyer can determine if that is the case for you.
10. I did not think I suffered injuries at the time of the accident, but later discovered that I suffered back and/or neck injuries in the accident. Can I still get compensation?
Depending upon how long ago the accident happened, chances are good that you can. Contact an attorney to learn more about how you can seek compensation even if you did not receive medical care at the time of the accident.
11. How long will it take to get compensation for my injuries after a rideshare accident?
The length of time it takes to resolve a legal claim seeking compensation for a rideshare crash-related injury can vary widely from case-to-case. Some matters might resolve in a month or two. Others can extend over a year or more. Keep in mind, too, that no one can guarantee you will receive compensation for your injuries.
However, the most reliable way to give yourself the best chance at obtaining maximum compensation is to retain the services of an experienced Philadelphia rideshare accident injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Contact one of ours today.
Get the Legal Help You Need from a Philadelphia Ridesharing Lawyer
Contact the experienced legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia online or at (215) 825-5183 for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your rideshare accident and injuries. If you wait too long to take action, you risk Pennsylvania’s two-year statute of limitations running out and not receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at The Levin Firm, we understand the struggles that come in the wake of a severe accident, and we are here to help. We handle cases on a contingency fee basis, recovering our attorney fees only from any payment we obtain on a client’s behalf.