Who is Legally Liable in a Rideshare Accident in Texas?
Anyone injured in an accident as a passenger in a rideshare vehicle in Texas will likely assume he or she can sue the rideshare company (e.g., Lyft, Uber or other) for the driver’s negligence that caused the crash. The little-known truth is that rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft will argue that the driver of the rideshare vehicle was not its employee at the time of the collision, but instead was an independent contractor. In effect the rideshare company will deny that it bears any responsibility for the crash claiming the driver was not its employee and thus it should not be held responsible for the driver’s negligent acts. And in Texas, the company will likely succeed with this defense.
Who is the Claim against?
In a crash where the rideshare driver was at fault, a claim should be made against the driver of the rideshare vehicle. While a claim can also be made against the rideshare company, its defense will be that the driver was an independent contractor at the time of the collision and therefore the company should not be held liable for the driver’s negligent acts.
Arbitration or Lawsuit? It Depends.
When a person downloads a rideshare app to his or her phone, that person is required to agree to certain terms and conditions set by the rideshare company. In that agreement, most rideshare companies require that any claim against the company or the driver must be arbitrated if it cannot be settled. In other words, the rideshare company requires its users to forfeit their constitutional right to a trial by jury in order to use the service. So if you download a rideshare app, you request the ride through the app, and you are injured during that ride because of the negligence of the rideshare driver, under the terms of the agreement you will likely be required to arbitrate your claim.
However, if you are riding in a rideshare vehicle and were not the one who requested the ride through the app, arguably you should not be required to arbitrate your claim for injuries caused by the driver’s negligent acts. This is because the contract for the ride is between the one who requested the ride through the app and the rideshare company, you are not a party to that contract, and thus you have not agreed to forfeit your constitutional right to a trial by jury.
Whose Insurance Applies?
If seriously injured in an accident as a passenger in a rideshare vehicle due to the driver’s negligence, there will be damages including those for medical expenses, loss of earnings, pain, impairment, as well as other harms and losses. Determining insurance coverage and other avenues of monetary recovery for these damages is complicated. Generally, the first level of insurance that will apply will be that of the at-fault rideshare driver. Keep in mind that the amount of available insurance can differ based on the level of rideshare service requested. And if the rideshare driver’s insurance policy is not adequate, the rideshare company such as Uber or Lyft can have an applicable liability policy in place, possibly up to $1 million or more. There can be other applicable insurance coverage and sources of recovery as well depending on the circumstances and parties involved.
What if Another Driver is at Fault?
If you are injured in a collision and the crash is not the fault of the rideshare (e.g., Uber, Lyft) driver, the claim should be made against the driver of the vehicle and possibly others whose negligence caused or contributed to the collision
What Should You Do if Injured in a Crash Involving a Rideshare Vehicle or any Other Vehicle?
The short answer is this. Immediately contact a lawyer who regularly handles these type claims. As is clear from the above discussion, these claims are much more complicated than they first appear. There are complex questions of liability, responsible parties, insurance coverage, and more.
In sum, if you or a loved one have been injured in a collision involving a rideshare vehicle or any other vehicle, contact The Callahan Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation to discuss what happened and what we can do to help. You have one chance for justice. Be sure to have an experienced law firm and lawyers on your side who understand the complexities of these type claims. While you focus on your recovery, let us focus on the rest.