Uber and Lyft are convenient rideshare services that allow people to request a ride to nearly anywhere at only a moment’s notice. Uber has approximately 75 million riders driven by 3 million drivers in 65 countries and 600 cities globally. Each day, 15 million Uber rides are taken.

Lyft reported 21.2 million in profits for just the first quarter of 2020, with an annual revenue for 2019 of $3.6 billion. This ride share company operates in 644 U.S. and 12 Canadian cities or towns, where Lyft riders use the service an average of nearly five times per month. Lyft drivers collectively made $1.1 billion in tips as of 2020.

One study from Rice University and the University of Chicago reveals some troubling statistics regarding rideshares. Ridesharing services have increased U.S. traffic fatalities by as much as two to three percent since 2011, with up to 1,100 mortalities annually. This comes at a price of $5.33 billion to $13.24 billion every year. Still, these figures don’t account for the thousands of injured rideshare users and the costs of their injuries.

There’s no denying that these rides share services have taken the market by storm and are offering a valuable service to busy Americans. However, Uber/Lyft drivers are no less likely to get into an accident than any other driver. In fact, some studies show they may even be more likely to cause or be involved in an accident. If you or a loved one was in a wreck with an Uber or Lyft driver—either as another driver or as a passenger—you need to know that you have rights. You can learn more about your rights and how to exercise them by talking to an experienced Connecticut Uber/Lyft accident lawyer. The dedicated car crash lawyers at Bert McDowell Injury Law are prepared to help you throughout the entire legal process when filing an injury claim.

What Causes Rideshare Accidents?

Unfortunately, rideshare drivers are prone to causing car accidents because of the very nature of their duties. Many drivers aren’t familiar with the locations they are taking their passengers, so they rely on their GPS or cell phone to get directions. This lures their attention away from the road and what is going on in front of them.

To make matters worse, their smartphones are constantly going off when another potential passenger requests a ride. This diverts their attention away from safely driving their vehicle even further.  However, a skilled Connecticut Uber/Lyft accident lawyer can obtain cell phone records in motor vehicle accident claims to determine if a driver was active on their cell phone at the time of the accident.

Fatigue is another critical factor in many rideshare crashes. Unfortunately, drivers aren’t highly compensated for their time and often have another job. As such, it’s common for them to work long or late hours. The result is many exhausted people behind the wheel of ride-share vehicles.

Another factor is other distractions that have nothing to do with smartphones or technology. With a continual rotation of new passengers in their vehicles, some drivers may find that they focus more on the people in their vehicles than on their driving and what is happening on the road.

Rideshare Drivers in Connecticut Must Follow State Law

Transportation network/rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are allowed to operate in Connecticut according to Public Act 17-140. These companies are legally required to register with the Connecticut Commissioner of Transportation each year. If they don’t follow the law, they won’t be allowed to operate in the state. Operating in the state without a valid registration can result in fines of up to fifty thousand dollars.

Mandatory Background Checks

Rideshare companies are required to conduct background checks on all of their drivers. They are supposed to have a clean driving record and a clean background check before they can be hired. Any Uber/Lyft driver who works in Connecticut must have submitted to a criminal background check that includes fingerprints submitted to the FBI. Once they are hired, the process must be repeated every three years. Among other things, rideshare companies must verify that their drivers haven’t been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DWI/DUI) within the last seven years. If you notice anything suspicious about a driver, be sure to report it to their rideshare company through the policy that it legally must post on its website. A Connecticut Uber wreck lawyer will investigate whether the company conducted an extensive background check on the driver.

Rideshare Companies Must Hire Good Drivers

Rideshare companies can’t hire any driver who, in the past three years, has committed:

  • More than three moving violations in the previous three years
  • A “serious traffic violation” as defined by Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 14-1—including excessive speeding, reckless driving, following too closely, improper or erratic lane changes, using a handheld phone or another device while driving while driving, or driving a commercial vehicle without a commercial license

In addition, Connecticut laws don’t allow Uber drivers to work long hours. They may only work up to fourteen consecutive hours and no more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period. Even still, that’s a lot of driving, and even the best drivers can make mistakes when they drive for hours on end and are tired.  A Connecticut Uber/Lyft collision attorney investigates the driver’s driver-log to determine whether he/she was fit to drive.  It should also be noted Uber and Lyft are required to have policies prohibiting any driver from working on their platform if they are likely to be impaired by illness or fatigue.

Vehicles Used by Uber and Lyft Drivers Must be in Good Condition

Rideshare drivers are required to certify that their vehicle is in good working condition and well-maintained. For example, brakes, taillights, and seatbelts must work, and the tires must be safe. They must have four doors, and they can’t be designed to carry more than eight people, including the driver.

Rideshare Drivers Must be Insured

Rideshare companies must insure their drivers when they’re working. If a driver is shown on the transportation platform as available to provide rides, that driver must be covered by a 50,000 per person/100,000 per accident bodily injury policy. If the Uber/Lyft driver is “engaged in the provision of a prearranged ride,” then the coverage increases to one million dollars per accident.

Keep in mind that a driver’s personal car insurance policy may not be available when that driver is driving for Uber or Lyft. It’s likely that anyone injured by a working rideshare driver will only be able to pursue compensation from that insurance policy.  This is something that a legal professional will determine once they contact the insurance carrier.

Liability in Rideshare Crashes

Liability in rideshare crashes can be very tricky. It’s common for there to be disagreements over liability in any motor vehicle collision; however, when it comes to Uber/Lyft accidents, it’s even more since so many insurance companies and third parties are involved.

When the Other Driver is Liable

Suppose a rideshare driver isn’t at fault for an accident. In that case, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is generally the first insurer liable for the resulting damages. However, an experienced Connecticut Uber/Lyft accident lawyer knows that after the first insurance company, there are additional layers of insurance coverage that can maximize an accident victim’s compensation.

If the rideshare driver isn’t at fault and the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to pay for all of the victim’s damages, which happens often, the rideshare company usually provides additional uninsured motorist coverage to protect both their driver and the passenger.

When the Rideshare Driver is Liable

If the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault, the rideshare driver’s insurance coverage will pay for injuries to any of their passengers. However, drivers who are involved in an accident with a rideshare driver may or may not have their damages covered by the rideshare company. Liability will depend on whether the Uber or Lyft driver was logged into their app or going to pick passengers up. If they weren’t active on the rideshare platform, the other driver would need to file a claim with the private insurance company insuring the rideshare driver. If the driver was on duty, they could file a claim through the rideshare company’s auto insurance company.   A skilled Connecticut Uber/Lyft accident attorney can provide guidance on this issue.

Contact a Confident Connecticut Uber/Lyft Accident Lawyer Now

Being involved in an accident with a rideshare vehicle, whether you are a passenger or another driver, can be quite shocking and confusing. The good news is that there are laws to protect you if you are in an Uber/Lyft or other rideshare car accident in Connecticut. However, you also must make ensure you properly preserve your rights, or they may be lost. The first step in safeguarding those rights is to contact a Connecticut Uber/Lyft accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

Your attorney can help determine who is liable for your accident and which insurance policies you might be able to seek compensation from. They can tell you how much your claim might be worth and protect you from insurance adjusters who want you to settle for less than your claim is worth. We are available to take your call anytime, or you may reach us online.