Drivers of Uber, Lyft, and other ride sharing companies are regulated in Nevada under the PUC (Public Utilities Commission) and not governed under the NTA (Nevada Transportation Authority) similar to taxicabs, limousines and other commercial carriers. Nevada Law mandates that such companies operate with a minimum of $1.5 million in liability coverage for personal injury or death in a motor vehicle accident. If you or a loved one have been in an accident due to an Uber of Lyft accident, contact Benson & Bingham to get the compensation you deserve.
Screening for drivers of Uber and Lyft are done by the respective companies who drive their own vehicles for a fee. The popularity of the service has grown by leaps and bounds as the prices often undercut the competition and afford passengers a viable option, especially in under served residential neighborhoods where taxicabs are often not present.
Motor vehicle accidents involving Uber and Lyft drivers are handled no differently than any other accident case. Drivers are the primary defendant with the owner’s insurance policy being the first insurance used; with ride sharing companies the insurance policy of Uber or Lyft would be the primary by virtue of the new law and contractual agreements between the operators and the companies. Uber accidents will have the same kinds of causes of action in a lawsuit as any other taxi lawsuit: Negligence/Negligent operation, Negligence per se, Vicarious Liability, Respondeat Superior, and in some cases Negligent Hiring. The big distinction in a ride sharing company versus a taxi cab operation in Nevada is that taxi’s are owned by the taxi company; of the 14 or so licensed taxi cab operators, they received the bulk of the revenue for hauls with driver coming to work and driving the taxi’s vehicle. Uber drivers are the opposite: they own their vehicles and have private insurance on those, and when they are driving passengers for Uber or Lyft then the respective ride sharing companies’ insurance becomes primary
The interesting issue is whether the ride sharing company can be sued as an “employer” in a typical lawsuit setting where respondeat superior is alleged, or in laymen’s terms, whether the employer is legally liable for the acts of its employees. Nevada subscribes to vicarious liability law; however, the issue becomes whether the ride sharing company is in fact the employer, or are they just a technology company offering the connection between the driver and the passenger? Another question is whether the payment relationship between Uber and Lyft and their drivers– is it such that Uber is paying the driver or is the driver paying Uber? The reasons such distinctions matter is that Uber may argue that they are not the employer, and the drivers are merely independent who drive when, where, and how long they want and merely pay Uber a transaction or commission on the fare. Thus, they are independent contractors offering rides from A to B.
These distinctions are important when a legal analysis is considered to hold Uber or Lyft legally liable for amounts over the $1,500,000.00 legal liability mandate. In the event of a wrongful death action or a serious injury accident case, $1.5M in liability coverage is not going to be enough to compensate injury victims. A lawsuit directly tying Uber or Lyft to the accident is crucial. Arguing the specific elements of respondeat superior and the theories of legal liability including whether the contractor is truly independent. Some of these issues may be statutory in nature. If you need legal advice concerning a ride sharing company like Uber or Lyft, contact Benson & Bingham who will educate and advise you on your personal injury and liability options.
Rideshare services, like Uber, are quickly becoming the primary method of transportation in Las Vegas for visitors and workers alike, outshining taxi cab companies in recent years as passengers find Uber more affordable and even more convenient than hailing a taxi. However, the question comes up over and over again: What happens if your Uber driver gets into an accident while you are riding in the back seat? What if you are injured in this accident?
Read on for answers to the questions that we hear most frequently from our clients about Uber accidents in Las Vegas.
Uber drivers are required to carry insurance on their vehicles, which is legally mandated by the state. Drivers who register their vehicles in Nevada are required to have a minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury or the death of one person, and $50,000 for the bodily injury or death of two or more people in a single accident. Drivers are also required to have $20,000 in coverage for property damage liability.
When a driver is driving his or her vehicle for personal reasons, this insurance is available to cover damages caused. However, when a driver is en route to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in the car, his or her personal insurance may not cover the accident, as it occurred while the vehicle was being used for commercial purposes. Because of this, Uber provides an increased amount of insurance while an Uber driver has his or her app engaged or is in the process of transporting a passenger.
These amounts include:
Uber states in its policies that it conducts a background check on every driver before his or her first trip, and once a year after that. This check screens for driving violations, impaired driving, and violent crime. Additionally, the company states that it employs technology through its platform that can alert Uber if a driver has been charged with a criminal offense between annual screenings.
Because Uber classifies its workers as independent contractors instead of employees, the company is shielded from much of the liability resulting from the actions of its drivers. However, if there is evidence that Uber was negligent in its background screening, the company could potentially be liable for the accident that caused your injuries.
The driver is generally liable for injuries sustained by his or her passengers if the driver gets into an accident, but compensation will likely come from Uber’s insurance policy rather than from the driver’s policy.
According to Uber’s Zero Tolerance Policy, if you suspect that your driver is drunk, you should end the trip immediately, exit the vehicle, and call 911. You should also access your Uber app and provide feedback.
The statute of limitations to file a Nevada Uber accident lawsuit is two years from the date of the injury.
While there is no doubt that the Uber app—which the driver must use and consult while driving—can be a distraction, there have been many lawsuits filed that alleged this very point. However, the lawsuits are not generally successful due to the driver’s status as an independent contractor and his or her choice to consult the app while in dangerous driving conditions. Generally, liability would remain with the driver in such a situation.
Let Benson & Bingham help you understand your legal options in Las Vegas. Even though the technology hasn’t been around for long, Benson & Bingham has helped hundreds of rideshare accident victims obtain just settlements or trial verdicts; contact us today for a free, no pressure case evaluation.
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