After an auto accident claim is started, the insurance company will first determine who was “at fault” for causing the accident. They do this because the person or party who was legally responsible (liable) for causing as accident also has a legal obligation to compensate victims for all injuries and property damage caused by that accident.
In many cases, liability is straightforward. One driver was at fault, and the other was not. But often, liability becomes far more complicated. Perhaps each driver was partly at fault. Maybe a rideshare company or employer is also partly at fault. Sometimes an auto manufacturer can even be at fault for making a defective vehicle. In these cases, it is absolutely critical that injury victims are represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania who can protect their right to compensation in the face of complicated legal issues.
Our experienced Lyft & Uber accident lawyers at Ostroff Injury Law know how to handle rideshare cases. As these services become more popular, they are involved in more accidents. These cases have presented unique legal circumstances that have not yet been fully resolved by the courts. Our attorneys can protect your legal rights after an Uber or Lyft accident. Call (484) 351-0350 to schedule your free consultation.
More Than One Driver
One of the more common scenarios involving shared liability involves accidents that were caused by more than one driver. In heavy traffic, poor weather conditions, or a large accident with multiple vehicles, it is likely that each involved driver could have avoided the collision. A legal doctrine knows as comparative negligence allows each of them to be apportioned part of the liability for the accident. This doctrine is codified in Section 7102 of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Statutes, which states that a plaintiff can maintain a case for negligence even if he or she was also negligent. This means that a driver who was at fault can still recover the other drivers who were also at fault. There are two important caveats to this rule:
- the plaintiff’s negligence cannot exceed the defendant’s negligence, and
- the plaintiff’s award is reduced by his or her own liability.
Here’s how comparative negligence works: imagine an accident where one driver was 80 percent at fault, and the other driver was 20 percent at fault. The driver who was 20 percent at fault could sue and recover 80 percent of his or her total damages. The driver who was 80 percent at fault could not recover at all, as his or her fault exceeded the other driver’s.
A Driver and a Company
In many auto accidents, a company becomes involved in the case because of its potential liability. The company could be the employer of a negligent driver who was on the clock or the manufacturer of a defective vehicle. In Uber or Lyft accidents, the rideshare company may also face liability. This is why Lyft and Uber purchase large commercial auto insurance policies to supplement their drivers’ personal liability coverage.
The legal question of liability for Uber and Lyft is still unsettled. In general, an employer is vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees, but not independent contractors. But simply calling their drivers independent contractors is not enough to get Uber and Lyft off the hook. It is still possible that they could be held vicariously liable for the actions of their drivers. Uber and Lyft have avoided the issue by offering to cover their drivers under certain circumstances. Their supplemental insurance has ample limits, and few of these cases have gotten far enough in litigation to set legal precedent. More importantly, Uber and Lyft can still be directly liable for their own negligence in hiring, training, or supervising negligent drivers. If, for example, a driver with ten accidents in one month were allowed to keep driving for Uber, it is likely that a jury would find Uber negligent in allowing the driver to continue using the platform to accept rides.
More Than One Company
In some complicated cases, more than one company might become involved in a car accident case. Imagine an accident in which an Uber hits a landscaping truck, and each driver is partly at fault. Uber may face liability based on its driver’s negligence. The landscaping company would also face liability for its driver’s negligence. In addition to both companies, the Uber driver’s personal auto insurance would also be involved. The landscaping employee’s personal auto insurance might also be involved (if, for example, he or she was driving the work truck without permission). All of these companies would have their own lawyers fighting hard to deny liability. The facts of the accident would likely be hotly disputed by these many lawyers. It is easy to see how an accident victim’s right to compensation could be lost in the shuffle of blame.
More is Not Merrier
The more parties there are to a lawsuit, there more opportunity there is for everyone to deflect blame. Insurance companies and large corporations (like Uber and Lyft) have armies of lawyers ready to fight personal injury claims. They have company policies in place to deny liability before your accident ever occurs. They will take advantage of having multiple parties and use the excuse to point the blame at anyone else – including the injury victim. This is why it is so important for you to have your own personal injury lawyer in a case that involves multiple drivers or multiple companies – especially large companies like Uber and Lyft. Your attorney will be able to fight off these tactics and deal with the other lawyers. More importantly, your attorney will know how to prove liability to a jury in order to prove who has a legal obligation to compensate you.
Experienced Pennsylvania Uber Accident Lawyers
At Ostroff Injury Law, we are committed to helping Pennsylvania car crash victims protect their legal right to compensation. Our attorneys understand the legal issues presented by multi-party litigation, know the tactics the other side will try to minimize your recovery, and how to successfully protect your claim against them. Call (484) 351-0350 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Pennsylvania Uber accident lawyers. We’ve recovered millions on behalf of our clients. Let us help you too.