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Probably the greatest revolution in consumer transportation in the last 100 years is the advent of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. Anyone with a smartphone and a place to be can simply log in and almost instantly summon a late-model car or SUV driven by a licensed driver eager to get you where you want to go through the least traffic.

For busy Florida personal injury lawyers, ride-sharing apps are a godsend, making traveling to depositions, mediations, and Miami’s busy courthouses much easier. Now, I no longer need to park and schlep boxes of exhibits and documents past homeless people and the often urine-soaked sidewalks surrounding the courthouse.  Instead, I just get dropped off in front of the courthouse by some guy named Juan driving a Prius.

But what happens when passengers get into accidents while in an UBER or LYFT vehicles? can they make a claim? The short answer is, yes, but as always it depends on who caused the accident.

IF UBER DRIVER IS NOT AT FAULT

If the Uber driver is not at fault–let’s say your ride was rear-ended at a stop light–then the person who rear-ended you would be responsible for your medical bills and lost wages (if you have PIP, after your PIP has been exhausted), and your pain and suffering. However, being responsible and having insurance to pay for the damage are two entirely different considerations–especially in South Florida, where we have found most drivers either have no insurance or carry inadequate coverage to pay for the damages they both cause and receive.

In Florida, Uber and/or Lyft passengers who own a car but who are hurt in an Uber accident can and must still use their own Personal Injury Protection insurance to pay for the first $10,000 of their medical bills and lost wages. This is true regardless of whether the Uber driver is at fault in any part for the collision.

Florida law still requires that plaintiffs in motor vehicle accidents prove they have sustained a permanent injury in order to be entitled to receive money for pain and suffering. However, if both fault and a permanent injury can be proved, the at-fault driver is potentially responsible for the following damages:

  • Past and future physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical impairment;
  • Past and future medical, hospital, rehabilitation, disability, and other health care-related expenses;
  • Past economic losses including lost wages, salary or income, and property damage;
  • Loss of future income due to any long-term disability and permanent diminished earnings capacity;
  • Punitive damages (for outrageous wrongful conduct, if intoxicated, etc.); and
  • Wrongful death when the lawsuit is brought by the family of a loved one who died.

IF UBER DRIVER IS AT FAULT

If your Uber driver causes an accident while you are his or her passenger, or if you are in an accident caused by an Uber driver, you can sue both the driver and Uber or Lyft. Of course, you must first prove the accident was the Uber driver’s fault (or at least partially so) and that you have suffered an injury.

Suing is one thing, but collecting is something different. Several states, like California, have passed legislation requiring ride-share drivers to maintain bodily injury coverage of $1 million.

This past May, Florida’s business-friendly Governor Rick Scott finally signed into law the “Uber/Lyft Bill”. Starting July 1, 2017, all ride-sharing drivers’ mandatory minimum insurance levels are a fraction of California’s–$50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 for death and bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage, as well as PIP benefits and Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage.

Uber and Lyft drivers must now carry physical proof of insurance on them whenever operating a ride-share vehicle. Since it’s Florida, there is always a catch, which often seems to protect the profits of insurance companies at the expense of the injured.  In this new law, for example, if an Uber driver has private auto insurance, that insurer can be excluded from coverage if the vehicle is logged on to the digital network or providing a prearranged ride at the time of the accident. In other words, most likely the only available coverage in a car accident claim against an Uber driver will be the mandatory minimums provided in this new law.

CONSULTING WITH A LYFT CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER

Subject to the mandatory insurance limits, anyone seriously injured or killed by an Uber or Lyft driver’s negligence can be entitled to collect money for the damages bulleted above.

Florida’s Uber Law also subjects Uber and Lyft drivers to a mandatory local and national criminal background check every three years, as well as a one-time driving record check when the person applies. Additionally, Uber and Lyft are now forced to implement a “zero-tolerance policy” on drug and alcohol use by their drivers, and to suspend a driver during the length of an investigation, if a rider registers a complaint of drug or alcohol use.

If you have been involved in an Uber or Lyft accident–either as a driver, passenger, or third party–it is important that you consult immediately with an experienced Lyft injury lawyer. Our personal injury firm was founded in 1991 by Spencer Aronfeld, a Board-Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, with over 25 years of legal experience representing individuals and their families across the State of Florida in a broad range of motor vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents.

We provide a free initial consultation to anyone who may have a potential claim against Uber, Lyft, or any other ride-sharing company for personal injuries, lost wages, medical expenses, and property damages. We are available to speak with you 24/7 at your home, office, hospital, nursing or rehabilitation center, or by email at [email protected], SKYPE, or phone. Call us today, toll-free at 1-866-597-4529 or locally at 305-441-0440, and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We are ready to help.