St. Louis Uber and Lyft Accidents

St. Louis Uber and Lyft Accidents

Washington Avenue has some of the hottest nightlife, St. Louis Arch features a steel monument offering breathtaking views rising 630 feet in the air, and Busch Stadium is an exciting place to be for St. Louis Cardinal fans. Six Flags St. Louis provides loads of family fun with a wooden coaster, concerts, live shows, and more. The best way to get to these places of interest for out-of-towners or even resident entertainment seekers is usually an Uber or Lyft cab that can quickly get sightseers and partiers around the city to area attractions and hotspots.

Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft drivers aren’t immune to accidents, and when one happens while you’re a passenger, it’s important to know your legal rights and remedies. NST Law provides a free initial consultation to evaluate the specific facts of your claim and assess its potential worth to get you the compensation you deserve for the damages you suffered.

Driver holding phone with uber app open

Uber and Lyft Market Disruption

Uber and Lyft dominate the online cab-hailing market in St. Louis, having started their operations in 2009 and 2019, respectively. Both operate using Android and iOS apps, and after requesting a ride, the app will contact rideshare drivers in the vicinity. Once a driver accepts your request, you’ll receive a notification on your phone. Upon arrival, the driver will notify you that they’re outside, and you can commence the ride.  

While the trip is in progress, you hope to look forward to a safe arrival and an incident-free journey. As is typical with most riders, you hardly give any second thoughts to safety. After all, the general expectation is that rideshare companies qualify and thoroughly vet all commercial drivers, including performing background checks on prospective contractors before accepting their applications. Unfortunately, you might be shocked to learn that there can be loopholes in the recruitment process.  

Even though ridesharing accidents often go unreported in the news, that doesn’t mean these accidents aren’t common or serious. Like any other driver, rideshare drivers can make human errors resulting in car accidents and possible injuries.  

According to Statista, a 2018 survey revealed that 36% of Americans used rideshare services, with Lyft and Uber being the most dominant companies in the market. Additionally, rideshare app usage in the United States accounts for 15% of cab rides, with 17% of the adult population using one daily. Contact our lawyers today.

Driver Recruitment Issues

While driving for either Uber or Lyft, one must have personal auto insurance coverage stipulated in the ridesharing contract. That sounds good on paper, but according to an article on the House Grail website, the drivers’ onboarding process is not strategic or practical for proper scrutiny. For starters, these two rideshare companies don’t meet drivers in person, with recruitment taking place solely online. Lastly, the process doesn’t involve relevant law enforcement-directed background checks, and the firms don’t require fingerprinting.

Responsibility for Rideshare Accidents

When an Uber or Lyft driver is involved in an accident, they assume liability. From a legal perspective, anyone operating a motor vehicle owes a duty of care to other road users. While Missouri laws hold accident-causing drivers responsible, the legal process still requires the injured party to file a claim, which necessitates a determination of liability.  

Two aspects play a significant role in this process:  

  1. The app is switched off or on. If the rideshare app was off during the accident, the driver is at fault, and their insurance plan pays the damages. Likewise, if the app was active, the driver is still liable.
  2. The app is switched on, and the driver has a passenger. Once a driver has been matched with a passenger, and they’re on the way to pick them up, the rideshare company assumes responsibility. The same rule applies when a passenger has already boarded and is en route to their drop-off point. 

Rideshare Company Liability

Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors. They have the freedom to set their own working hours, and they must provide their own equipment and forfeit employment benefits like retirement or medical insurance plans. 

As an incentive, both service providers offer liability coverage for their drivers. Uber and Lyft provide drivers with policies having $50,000 injury liability, $100,000 total liability, and $25,000 property damage liability when the driver’s app is on. If picking up or already carrying a passenger, the company’s liability coverage increases to $1 million.

Causes of Uber and Lyft Accidents

Distraction is the leading cause of rideshare accidents in Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas. For example, drivers need to check their phones regularly to confirm whether they’re following the correct route, and doing so can make them lose focus on the road and their surroundings.  

Additionally, texting to confirm rides can disrupt rideshare drivers’ concentration. Not wanting to disappoint a waiting customer, the driver might be tempted to text back quickly. That split-second disruption can cause them to lose sight of the road, resulting in an accident. 

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 987 people died in road crashes in 2020. The law enforcement agency attributed the majority of these accidents and subsequent deaths to over-speeding and reckless driving. For example, in Lake Saint Louis on Valentine’s Day, a motorist lost control, veered across a median on Interstate 64, and hit a minivan in an accident that claimed four lives.  

Drunk driving and inexperience are other common causes of rideshare accidents.  

What should you do if you sustain injuries in a rideshare accident?

Accidents can cause mental and bodily harm, even if you have no visible injury or physical pain. Immediately after the accident and sustaining injuries, you can be confused, traumatized, or in shock. Therefore, it’s important to undergo a full medical evaluation by a licensed medical professional to avoid missing internal injuries that can take hours or days to become apparent.   

After you’re safe and receiving appropriate treatment, you can focus on protecting your legal right to recover compensation for your damages by holding the liable person or persons accountable.  

After a rideshare accident, you should do the following: 

  1. Notify the police.

Call law enforcement immediately regardless of whether you’re injured or not. With a police officer on the scene, you protect yourself from potential blame by the cab driver. Besides, insurance claims typically require a police report, as do personal injury lawsuits. 

  1. Seek medical attention.

Whether you have an apparent injury or not, you should not take accidents lightly, nor should you risk missing a serious injury. Seek immediate medical attention and let the doctors confirm that you’re out of danger. Some injury symptoms don’t manifest until much later. Only a complete medical check-up can reveal if you require further care. 

  1. Document the incident.

Attorneys and insurance companies use accident scene evidence to prove liability, damages, and your claim’s value. Therefore, take as many photos as possible, starting with the vehicles, your injuries,  and your surroundings. Make sure to capture views from different angles, and if there are notable landmarks nearby or road hazards, include those. Note the time of day and any weather or traffic conditions. 

  1. Gather information.

Obtain driver information, including names, cell phone numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance data. Make sure to get the makes and models of the vehicles involved. Also, talk to eyewitnesses and obtain their contact information to follow up with them for statements or additional recollections or corroborations of events. 

  1. Report the accident to the rideshare company.

Notify the rideshare company about the accident. Share similar information with your insurer so that they can immediately open a report and start documenting it. Uber and Lyft driver partnerships come with liability insurance to cover property damage and personal injuries. Therefore, you must contact these providers directly. You need to have photo evidence and a police report to process a valid accident claim with insurance companies. 

  1. Consult a lawyer.

Uber and Lyft are service providers, but their main objective is to return a profit. For you, what this means is these companies will focus on escaping liability and protecting their bottom line by defending their drivers and reputations. You must seek legal representation to help protect your interests too. With a car accident attorney by your side, you can ensure professional handling of your claim and strong negotiations to obtain fair compensation.

How can our St. Louis personal injury lawyers at NST Law help you after a rideshare accident?

If you’ve been involved in a rideshare accident and you’re seeking legal assistance, our personal injury lawyers at NST Law can help you through the legal process, prepare the required paperwork, ensure the timely filing of your claim or a civil lawsuit, and provide you with necessary legal representation.  

Contact us today for a free case evaluation to review your claim, determine its value, and help you decide the next steps to get you the compensation you need to assist with your recovery and recoup your damages.  

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