Rhode Island Uber And Lyft Accident Lawyer
Was your Uber or Lyft involved in a car accident? You may be entitled to pursue compensation for your injuries. A Rhode Island Uber and Lyft accident attorney can help assess your case and determine what steps to take next.
However, rideshare drivers are a higher accident risk due to additional risk factors inherent in the job of rideshare driving including driving for extended periods of time on a regular basis and frequently relying on their smartphones for information about their next rideshare customer
According to the Insurance Information Institute, rideshare drivers are nearly four times as likely as other drivers to use their smartphones. The most alarming aspect of this is that they are required at times to interact with their smartphones while driving.
Distracted driving also includes eating, playing with the radio, adjusting navigation, grooming, and even talking to passengers. Rideshare drivers are more than twice as likely as other drivers to engage in distracting activities, potentially due to their long hours.
State law requires rideshare drivers to take eight hours off after working 12 hours within a 24-hour shift. Drivers who work a 12-hour day or come close to such a long shift per day risk experiencing fatigue.
According to the National Safety Council, fatigued driving is comparable to drunk driving. The most obvious danger is falling asleep at the wheel, but involuntary periods of microsleep for four to five seconds are possible. This is plenty of time for an accident to occur.
Drowsy drivers have slower reaction times and reduced awareness. They are three times as likely as other drivers to be in a car accident.
How Is Liability Determined In A Rideshare Accident?
Liability in rideshare accidents depends on the cause of the accident. The following parties may be liable:
- The driver
- A vehicle manufacturer or parts manufacturer
- The owner of the vehicle
- A mechanic
- A government agency
Can I sue Uber or Lyft for my injuries?
In most cases, when an at-fault driver is an employee of a company, the employer is vicariously liable for the negligent conduct of the driver. The owner of a vehicle is also vicariously liable for the negligence of anyone they authorize to drive their vehicle. In the case of ridesharing companies, drivers use their own vehicles, and the companies classify drivers as independent contractors.
While employers are not liable for the negligence of independent contractors, the question of whether Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors is a hotly contested topic that is being decided by the courts. According to Rhode Island § 39-14.2-16, rideshare companies may classify their drivers as independent contractors if they meet the statutory definition of independent contractors under state and federal law.
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training characterizes the misclassification of employees as independent contractors as a serious problem in the state. The department defines an employee as “anyone performing service for an employer who controls what will be done and how it will be done by the worker.”
Rideshare companies maintain that they are technology companies, and both drivers and passengers are customers using their app. Our co-founder Joe Marasco disagrees.
What Compensation Can I Pursue After A Rideshare Accident In Rhode Island?
The compensation available after a rideshare accident may include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Compensation for documented monetary losses is known as economic damages. This includes lost wages, medical expenses, and property damages. When calculating economic damages, future medical expenses and future lost wages are also considered, based on the anticipated level and duration of disability.
Pain and suffering damages are also known as non-economic damages. It includes such losses as the following:
- Loss of bodily functions
- Loss of consortium by the spouse
- Loss of society
- Loss of joy in life
- Emotional distress
Punitive damages are reserved for rare cases when the conduct of the defendant is especially egregious, as a means to punish the defendant and deter others from similar conduct.
Wrongful Death Damages
In the tragic event that your loved one is killed in a rideshare accident, the administrator of the estate or surviving next of kin is entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit and pursue the following damages on behalf of the family:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income of the deceased, including future income
- Burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering of the deceased
- Pain and suffering of the family
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
Damages are distributed to the surviving spouse and children or, in their absence, the next of kin.
What Regulations Are Currently In Place For Rideshare Companies Operating In Rhode Island?
The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission provides oversight to rideshare companies, which is the same agency that oversees taxis. The commission requires rideshare companies to pay a permit fee based on the number of drivers. This fee ranges from $5,000 for fewer than 50 drivers in the state to $30,000 for 200 or more. In addition:
- Rideshare companies must perform background checks on all driver applicants and disqualify any applicant with specific driving offenses and criminal offenses.
- Rideshare drivers must be 19 years of age and hold a valid driver’s license.
- Rideshare companies must enforce a zero-tolerance alcohol and drug use policy.
Additional Requirements for Rideshare Drivers in Rhode Island
The state sets the following requirements for rideshare companies:
- Maximum age of 15 model years old
- Maximum capacity of seven occupants, including the driver
- Drivers must only use the vehicle registered with the rideshare company
- Drivers must display the company logo prominently on the vehicle when on duty
Insurance Requirements and Coverage
On-Duty Driver Not Providing Rides
A driver who is logged onto the rideshare app waiting to provide a ride must be covered by the following liability insurance, which protects other drivers:
- $50,000 death and bodily injury per person
- $100,000 death and bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 property damage
On-Duty Driver Providing Rides
While providing rides, including driving to and from a ride, rideshare operators must be covered by a liability insurance policy with a limit of at least $1,500,000 for death, bodily injury, and property damage. This policy covers passengers and other drivers.
While off-duty, a rideshare driver’s personal liability insurance policy takes effect.
Coverage for the Driver
If you are injured in a rideshare accident as the rideshare driver or another motorist, you may have a claim against the other driver’s insurance. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, less likely in the case of a rideshare driver given their requirements to carry liability insurance, you can file a claim against your own uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Both Uber and Lyft maintain this coverage for their drivers while on duty.
When Should I Contact An Uber And Lyft Accident Attorney?
The statute of limitations for most car accident injuries in Rhode Island is three years. However, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Your attorney will need initiate your case before evidence degrades or eyewitnesses forget important details.
Your attorney will also need ample time to retrieve your medical records, work with forensic investigators, and build the strongest case possible.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Rhode Island Uber And Lyft Accident Attorney
Our attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, which means we charge no initial fees. You will never owe us anything unless and until we recover compensation for you. At that time, we will collect a pre-established percentage from your settlement. This arrangement prevents financial hardship from creating a barrier to justice.
How Can Marasco & Nesselbush’s Rhode Island Uber And Lyft Accident Lawyers Help?
The attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush are leading the way in ensuring rideshare operators like Uber and Lyft properly classify their drivers as employees so they are forced to take responsibility for injuries their drivers cause.
Our Lyft and Uber accident lawyers will fight to help you recover the maximum compensation available under the law. We will handle all the legal details so you can focus on your recovery without the stress of tending to your own case.
If you have been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident, you deserve to be fairly compensated. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.