If you have been brushing up on employment law news in the past year or so, you have undoubtedly come across several articles regarding Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing applications. In particular, many ridesharing drivers believe they are full-fledged employees of the company that produced and manages their app of choice. Ridesharing companies have typically countered with the argument that they are only independent contractors.
All of this confusion about employment impacts the everyday people who use Uber and Lyft when it comes to pinpointing liability in accidents. If you are riding in your friend’s car and they crash, they or the other driver will be to blame in most cases. If you are riding in a taxi, the driver and usually the parent company will share some liability. But what about for car accidents that occur when you are riding in a ridesharing vehicle?
Finding Liability in an Uber or Lyft Accident
Parties that could potentially be partially liable for a ridesharing accident include:
- Driver: A driver that does not take the responsibility of safe driving seriously will not be able to pass blame for any accidents onto anyone else. If your driver was clearly not paying much attention to the road while taxiing you around, he or she will likely be the sole person named in your claim.
- Other drivers: Sometimes the best driving habits in the world cannot protect a driver from other motorists. If your Uber or Lyft driver is going to file a car accident claim against another driver for negligence, that is probably the person you should name in your personal injury claim.
- Other passengers: A truly disruptive and intentionally distracting passenger on public transit systems, like the bus, can be held accountable for any accidents. The same might be true of other unruly passengers in your Uber or Lyft that went out of their way to upset the driver.
- Ridesharing company: Some personal injury claims for ridesharing accidents have named the ridesharing companies themselves. Such claims usually cite that drivers must use the apps while driving despite this being a distraction; driver hours are unregulated so someone could use the app all day and become exhausted; and other interesting points that could link liability to the company, especially if the driver is considered an employee to some extent.