After years of discussion and debate, the Halifax Regional Council voted in favour of allowing ridesharing services, which the municipality refers to as Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), to operate in Halifax, NS. The popular rideshare company Uber finally launched in Halifax on December 3, 2020. Now, Haligonians can access the same type of reliable and affordable transportation that thousands of big cities worldwide have enjoyed for over a decade.
While the rideshare industry continues to grow, so do the legal issues surrounding liability when drivers are involved in a car accident. Unlike a conventional car accident claim that is typically resolved between the two drivers, a rideshare accident involves the drivers, the ridesharing company, and the passengers. This makes the claims process a little more complicated since there are usually multiple insurance companies involved. Knowing your rights and understanding the nuances of a rideshare car accident claim will help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.
Common Causes of Rideshare Car Accidents
Rideshare services increase the average number of vehicles on the road. The more cars on the road, the higher the risk is of getting into a collision. Rideshare accident statistics indicate a 3 percent increase in traffic-accident fatalities since 2011. Uber reported that their vehicles were involved in 97 fatal crashes between 2017 and 2018, leading to 107 deaths. Of that number, 21 percent of the victims were the rider, 21 percent were the driver, and the remaining 58 percent were third parties.
Common causes of rideshare accidents
- Distracted Driving: Checking directions or taking a quick call can take the driver’s attention away from the road. A five-second distraction while on the highway is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
- Driver Fatigue: Some drivers work overtime to pick up more fares. For others, ridesharing is a side job in addition to working full-time hours. Research shows that driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence.
- Vehicle Maintenance: Cars that are not properly maintained can lead to a serious accident that could have otherwise been avoided, such as faulty breaks, engine failure, and a tire blowout.
- Inexperienced Drivers: Studies suggest that rideshare drivers are often less experienced than the traditional taxi driver. Additionally, Nova Scotia introduced a Class 4 driver’s license that no longer requires holders to retake the province’s road and knowledge tests.
- Reckless Driving: A recent report revealed that 35% of rideshare passengers felt their driver was not responsible on the road. Common forms of reckless driving are speeding, disregarding traffic signals, and improper merges or turns.
Who’s Liable if You’re Involved in a Rideshare Car Accident in Halifax?
Rideshare companies will carry an insurance policy to cover damages and injuries. Drivers must have private insurance to cover their vehicle and passengers. In general, the coverage provided by the rideshare company applies while the driver is logged into the ridesharing app and is available for hire or transporting passengers. However, since both the corporate and personal insurance policies have strict exclusions, determining liability in a rideshare accident can get very complicated.
Rideshare Driver Coverage
The two major rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, currently provide a $1 million insurance policy covering drivers and passengers who are hurt in car accidents. This coverage applies if the rideshare driver has a passenger or is on the way to pick one up, assuming the rideshare driver was at fault. But, if the driver is logged into the app and hasn’t accepted a fare, coverage through Uber/Lyft reduces to $50,000 per person and $100,000 total liability per accident if damages exceed the driver’s private insurance coverage. Additionally, rideshare companies classify their drivers as independent contractors and not employees, which further complicates insurance claims. Most personal insurance policies have a non-commercial clause, meaning they will not provide coverage for an accident that happens while the driver is using their vehicle for business purposes.
Passenger and Third-Party Coverage
As in any car accident case, the person pursuing a claim must prove who was at fault and the property damage or physical injuries caused by the accident. If the negligent party was the rideshare driver, the most straightforward course of action would be to bring a claim against the driver’s personal insurance carrier. As a passenger, you will file a third-party accident claim under the at-fault driver’s car insurance to recover benefits under Section B, often referred to as No-Fault Coverage or Accident Benefits. If you are the other driver, you can file a claim for Accident Benefits with your insurance provider, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Even if a rideshare driver did not directly cause or contribute to the accident, there might be additional insurance available through the rideshare company’s commercial insurance policy.
What Should I Do After an Accident in a Rideshare Vehicle?
A car accident can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are injured during the collision. The first priority following a motor vehicle accident is to ensure your safety and the safety of others in the vehicle. If possible, move the car out of the way from oncoming traffic. If the driver cannot pull over, stay in the car and turn the hazard lights on. The next steps you take will be to preserve evidence and get the appropriate documents needed to pursue damages from the driver responsible for the collision.
Seek medical attention, even if you think you are not injured. This ensures that you have an official medical report for an insurance claim. You will also want a police report to verify the details of the accident should you pursue a claim for damages or a personal injury lawsuit.
Record as much information about the accident as you can. Document the scene by taking photos and videos of vehicle damages and your injuries. Make a note of the day, time, and location of the collision. Also, get copies of all official reports and the name, badge number, and contact information of the responding officer.
Get Contact Information
Collect contact and insurance information from all parties involved. You will need full names, phone numbers, insurance policy number(s), license plate number(s), and driver’s license information. If there are witnesses, you will want to gather their contact information as well.
Submit an Insurance Claim
Initiating the claims process through the driver’s insurance provider right away will help avoid any delays in benefits and treatment for your injuries. As a passenger, you will want to report the accident to the rideshare company as well to get an official record to recover compensation through their corporate policy.
Protecting Your Rights After a Ridesharing Accident
Following an auto accident, you will need to discuss the details of the incident with several parties before, during, and after the claims process. Be aware that your words can and will be used against you by insurance companies. While your insurance company has a duty to act in your best interests, claims adjusters are trained in getting you the lowest compensation possible.
Insurance companies will typically try to settle a claim to avoid going to court or to pay you less than your case is worth. You need to properly assess the cost of your expenses for medical bills, property damage, and lost wages during your recovery. Agreeing to a settlement without proper advisement will most likely result in compensation that is far less than you deserve.
Stay off Social Media
Resist the urge to publish details about the car accident online. Posts on social media are considered public statements that can be used to undermine an otherwise legitimate insurance claim. Your posts before and after an accident can be taken out of context and used to dispute liability or the severity of your injuries.
Don’t Talk to Other Insurance Companies
You will most likely receive calls from the rideshare driver’s insurance company. Unlike your insurer, the driver’s insurance company is not required to act in your best interests. To ensure you are treated fairly and recover the benefits you are entitled to, your insurance provider or personal injury lawyer can work with the driver’s insurance company on your behalf.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at Valent Legal
If you are injured in a car accident with a rideshare driver, you are entitled to recovery for your losses, regardless of whether the driver was at fault, or someone else caused the accident. Pursuing compensation after a car accident on your own could result in a significant financial loss. Our team of experienced rideshare accident lawyers will pursue the compensation you are legally entitled to while you focus on recovering. Call or text (902) 700-8001 to book your free, no-obligation case evaluation today.