As many are aware, Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies changed the structure of the working world and altered the landscape of transportation throughout the United States. However, the convenience of rideshare services certainly comes with a cost. Rideshare drivers may make careless choices while driving and fail to maintain their vehicles, which can lead to dangerous and deadly accidents for passengers and other drivers.
Florida Uber/Lyft Bill Requirements
Florida law provides that drivers must maintain auto insurance, including personal injury protection and property damage liability. However, the required minimums are extremely low, at $10,000 each. If you are injured, and the driver has the minimum required insurance, only $10,000 of your $25,000 worth of medical bills will be covered by the driver’s insurance. To have the remaining $15,000 of medical expenses paid for by the responsible party, you will have to sue the driver.
However, Florida House Bill 221, also known as the Uber/Lyft Bill, was enacted by Governor Scott in 2017 to provide more protection to passengers of rideshare vehicles. Under this Bill, rideshare drivers are required to have minimum insurance levels of $50,000 for death or injury per person ($100,000 per occurrence) and $25,000 for property damage.
Florida No-Fault Law
Florida makes suing after a car accident more difficult because it is a no-fault car accident state, meaning you generally have to have sustained a catastrophic injury to sue the driver for financial compensation.
Catastrophic Injury In A Car Accident
Florida law provides that a catastrophic injury in a car accident is one that causes significant and permanent loss of an essential bodily function, permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical probability, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death. Florida recognizes several different types of catastrophic injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Skull fractures
- Serious bone fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries or loss of a bodily function
- Severe burns
- Loss of limb
Involved In A Rideshare Accident – What Next?
According to Florida law, you have four years to file a claim after a rideshare accident, although you should file a claim as soon as possible after the accident. Thus, it is essential that you contact an attorney after an accident to ensure that you are not barred from filing a claim and recovering damages.
Step One: Filing A Claim With The Driver’s Insurance
You should file a claim with the driver’s insurance before attempting to file a lawsuit against the driver or the rideshare company. This is called a third-party claim, and generally, you’ll be able to recover damages that were incurred as a direct result of the accident.
It’s important to remember that insurance companies stand in the shoes of their insured, so they will likely attempt to disprove your claim if there is any doubt of fault. Suppose the insurance refuses to settle or offers a settlement amount that you find unsatisfactory. In that case, you may file a lawsuit naming the driver, the rideshare company, and the respective party’s insurance companies.
Step Two: Filing A Lawsuit Naming The Driver And The Rideshare Company
As mentioned above, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is four years after the accident date. If you wait too long to file a claim with the insurance company and there are prolonged settlement negotiations that fail, you may be barred from filing a claim. Once a suit is filed, the burden falls on you to prove the negligence of the driver and the rideshare company. You will also need to prove your damages.
To recover compensation from the driver, you must show that they had a duty of care, breached that duty, and were the actual or proximate cause of your injuries. Establishing a duty of care for a rideshare driver is relatively easy because you were in their vehicle, and they had a duty to drive safely, maintain their car, and not cause an accident.
Showing they breached their duty might be a little more complicated. For example, if the accident is caused because a tire blew out, you must show that the driver failed to use reasonable care to inspect and replace their tires. However, showing they breached their duty when they caused an accident is simpler than proving they negligently maintained their vehicle.
Next, you must show that the breach of duty caused your injuries. This is usually done with a “but for” test, meaning you would not be injured if the accident had not happened. Although accidents are not always that straightforward, and there may be intervening or superseding causes that complicate a case, an experienced personal injury attorney can provide evidence to show that the driver’s actions were the cause of your injuries.
Rideshare Company’s Liability
Rideshare companies must provide extra coverage when drivers have riders, which generally amounts to approximately $1 million in liability coverage. This means that if the rideshare company is found to be at fault as well as the driver, you have an additional insurance policy of $1 million to go after. However, the rideshare company is not always going to be found at fault. Generally, a court will find a rideshare company to be partially or fully liable for rideshare accidents when:
- The rideshare company failed to perform a comprehensive criminal background and driver history check.
- The rideshare company performed a comprehensive criminal background and driver history check but ignored negative information.
- The rideshare company failed to suspend or fire a driver who has a history of accidents or traffic violations.
There is no cap on the damages you can be awarded due to a car accident; however, the damages available depend on the seriousness of your injury. Typically, economic damages are recoverable in car accident cases, but if the injury rises to the level of a catastrophic injury, then economic and non-economic damages are recoverable.
Economic damages include medical expenses and lost wages. These are considered objective damages because you can easily keep track of and calculate the economic impact of the accident. Courts consider these damages to make a person whole again, meaning the victim was not required to pay a penny towards the injuries sustained or lose a penny because of missing work.
Non-economic damages can include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life. Damages such as pain and suffering are difficult to prove because they are subjective and differ for every person.
Rideshare Accident Attorney
Determining whom to sue and what damages to seek is difficult, so it is essential that you contact an experienced attorney. To speak with one of Koberlein Law Offices’ experienced attorneys, call us toll-free at 877.556.2889 or contact us online for a free consultation.