Texas Ridesharing Accidents and Hiring An Attorney
If you or a loved one was hurt during a ridesharing service, you might want to hire a good lawyer. You could be legally entitled to substantial payments for your injuries.
That can be true if you were a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle during an accident, or if a ridesharing vehicle crashed into your personal vehicle and injured you or any your passengers. You also can seek payments if you were injured by a ridesharing vehicle while you were a pedestrian or while you were riding a bicycle.
Clearly, each ridesharing accident case has its own circumstances, and those details can affect your ability to recover financial compensation. That’s why it’s best to explore all of the elements of your accident with an experienced ridesharing accident attorney.
Which Ridesharing Companies Serve Texas?
As for which ridesharing companies do business in Texas, besides the most popular ones, others include Ola and Didi in Houston and San Antonio and Alto and Vibe Rides in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
All are subject to the same Texas laws on ridesharing liability, although some Texas cities also establish regulations pertaining to the services. Houston and San Antonio want stricter standards for drivers, including more thorough background checks. Dallas requires that a mechanic check drivers’ vehicles for safety.
Note that the term “ridesharing” technically means that multiple customers share a vehicle and are taken to different stops, while “ride hailing” involves one customer or group being taken directly to one stop. But the term ridesharing has become commonly used to describe the entire industry, in which customers hail and pay drivers via cell phone rideshare apps and drivers use their own personal vehicles.
Texas Law Requires Insurance for Ridesharing Services
Under a new Texas law, ridesharing companies are required to have rideshare insurance to cover injuries or damages caused by their drivers if the drivers lack their own supplemental insurance for the purpose of rideshare driving. (Regular auto insurance does not apply for commercial drivers.)
Texas law also requires that ridesharing companies or other Transportation Network Companies (TNC) buy extra liability insurance to apply when their ride hailing app is on, even if no other persons are in the vehicle.
It’s estimated that only about one-fourth of all rideshare drivers have purchased separate supplemental insurance to cover their commercial driving, as opposed to the personal auto liability insurance that all Texas drivers are required to have by state law.
For that, the minimum liability coverage required by law for all drivers in Texas is “30/60/25.” This means drivers must have insurance coverage for up to $30,000 per person injured in a crash, for up to a total of $60,000 per crash and for $25,000 in property damage per crash.
Again, such personal (non-commercial) auto liability insurance does not apply to drivers for hire with ridesharing companies.
However, a new Texas law requires them to have a higher coverage of “50/100/25” when the hailing app is on and they aren’t providing a ride. This means coverage must include up to $50,000 per person injured for a total of up to $100,000 per crash, as well as $25,000 in property damage per crash.
Coverage must increase to $1 million when the drivers are providing a ride.
Each ridesharing company also has its own policies and liability limits, so be sure to investigate the coverage provided by the service that you use. Most ridesharing companies are believed to provide as much as $1 million in coverage for passengers and drivers in crashes which lead to medical costs.
You also can explore whether your own auto insurance covers you if you are injured in a car accident with a ridesharing vehicle, whether as a passenger in the ridesharing vehicle or as a driver or occupant of another vehicle which is struck.
After an auto accident, a person who’s been injured by a bad driver normally seeks compensation from that driver’s auto liability insurance, not from their own provider. But also make sure that you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage for your own auto liability policy. That’s in case the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance to cover your losses and you need to make a claim from your own provider.
Are Ridesharing Claims Complicated?
If you’re wondering whether a ridesharing insurance claim can be complicated, the answer is yes, especially since ridesharing is a new and growing business, since laws and regulations covering it are steadily changing and since there are legal “gray areas” when it comes to liability.
For instance, such elements as whether or not ridesharing drivers had their ridesharing app on or off can make a big difference in a claim.
If the ridesharing app was activated at the time of a ridesharing crash involving injuries, then rideshare insurance liability would be provided, most likely by the ridesharing service. But if the ridesharing app was not activated at the time of a crash — perhaps because the driver had no passengers at the time — the company might not be liable, and a claim would need to target the individual driver.
Also, different protocols apply depending on if the injured person was a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle during a crash, or a driver or passenger whose vehicle was struck by a ridesharing vehicle, or a pedestrian or bicyclist hit by such a vehicle.
Also vital is establishing that the ridesharing driver was at fault. The driver may deny any wrongdoing. But your ridesharing accident attorney can work to gather evidence which can establish that the ridesharing driver was to blame.
Experienced Ridesharing Injury Lawyers Are Vital
Due to the relative newness and complexities of ridesharing liability claims and the high stakes involved for major injuries, it is vital that you have a knowledgeable, skilled and experienced ridesharing injury lawyer to help you with your claim.
Jim Adler & Associates is ready to help you explore your prospects for a successful ridesharing injury accident claim or lawsuit.
A claim involving our law firm often means that an injury lawyer will gain a settlement for a client via hard-nosed negotiations with insurance providers. However, more action may be needed. That is, you may need a ridesharing accident lawsuit to get the money that you deserve.
Despite their feel-good TV ads in which insurers quickly and happily pay off claims, many insurance companies are notorious for fighting to keep every dollar that they rightly owe on a claim. That’s in large part how they make their profits — by keeping the money paid for policies, rather than paying it out on claims.
While not all insurers will take this to horrible extremes, many insurers will try to deny your claim, or at least try to delay paying you. And when they do make you a settlement offer, they will try to underpay you by offering far less than that to which you are legally entitled.
Our Lawyers Deal With Insurance Companies Everyday
Jim Adler & Associates is an established Texas personal injury law firm with offices in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Our lawyers deal with insurance companies daily, as they have for decades.
Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler and his law firm stand ready to help you fight back and get the money you deserve after an injury accident involving ridesharing services in Texas.
What Payments Can a Rideshare Lawsuit Provide?
Such payments for your accident injury losses can include compensation for the following:
- Lost salary or wages due to the collision,
- Medical and hospital expenses, as well as rehabilitation costs,
- Pain, suffering and mental anguish.
Also keep in mind that by prevailing in a ridesharing accident lawsuit, that not only can help you by paying for your injury losses, but also, by holding ridesharing services accountable, can contribute to spurring more improvements in that industry in order to reduce accidents in the future.
Ridesharing Is Rising – As Are Ridesharing Accidents
Ridesharing accidents are increasing just as ridesharing services are growing. So there’s a downside to ridesharing’s growth. With an estimated 24 to 43 percent of Americans using rideshare, ridesharing vehicles’ accidents also are climbing.
Traffic fatalities nationwide had steadily decreased year by year to reach 32,885 in 2010, the lowest number of traffic deaths in America since 1949. But with ridesharing services arising after that, the rate of traffic deaths hasn’t kept dropping but rather has increased across America in the ensuing years.
The MIT report found that urban traffic congestion is greater today because of the large number or ridesharing or ride-hailing vehicles on our roads, many of which are simply cruising while waiting for passengers to pick up.
Take America’s largest city, New York. According to the New York Post, for-hire vehicle crashes in New York more than tripled from 2014 to 2016, from 534 crashes to 1,672 crashes.
A prominent cause of such rideshare accidents has been driver distraction, given the multiple devices drivers must use to keep track of passenger pickups for various services. Driver fatigue also is a common cause of such crashes.
Driver Problems Abound for Ridesharing Services
Besides traffic accidents, such crimes as assault, robbery, kidnapping and rape by ridesharing drivers also have entered the equation when it comes to rideshare services’ problems.
Unfortunately, many ridesharing companies do not sufficiently screen prospective drivers before allowing them to become a rideshare driver. Ridesharing officials don’t even meet potential drivers in person before accepting them, and most never required fingerprinting of drivers to pursue a background check.
Unlike taxi services, ridesharing companies do not hire professional commercial drivers, but rather engage individuals as independent contractors to transport passengers on behalf of the service in their own personal vehicles. This can lead to accident problems — and technical gray areas when it comes to lawsuits.
Unlike the professional drivers of taxis, limos and town car services, rideshare drivers do not carry costly commercial driver insurance. Taxi drivers and other professional drivers are closely regulated by law and must have primary commercial auto liability insurance, which can cost between $5,000 and $6,000 per vehicle.
Ridesharing companies also have gotten into trouble for their own in-house wrongdoings. One particular ridesharing company agreed to pay $32.5 million in a class-action lawsuit settlement when it was found that the company had advertised it had an industry-leading background check for drivers and had charged passengers a “Safe Rides” fee.
On the contrary, a rideshare service had hired a third-party private firm to do background checks on its drivers — checks which did not truly protect its passengers.
If ridesharing services are found to have been negligent in hiring unsuitable drivers, then that may be the basis of a ridesharing lawsuit against the company which was at fault.
Such companies must exercise reasonable care in ensuring the safety of their customers by refusing to hire drivers with:
- Convictions for driving while intoxicated or while using other drugs besides alcohol,
- Convictions for violent crimes such as assault or rape,
- Serious traffic offenses such as reckless driving or excessive speeding,
- Medical conditions such as heart problems or epilepsy which could make driving dangerous.
Ridesharing companies also are responsible for training and supervising their drivers properly. All of these things are part of the legal concept of “reasonable care,” which indicates the concern and caution that a rational person would use to ensure safety.
Again, a ridesharing company whose negligence contributes to an injury accident may be subjected to a ridesharing injury lawsuit. Even the rideshare app by which drivers are in steady contact with the service and with their passengers may be deemed an institutionalized driving distraction for which the service is to blame.
Amazon Prime Drivers Also Must Be Insured
In a related field, nationwide drivers of Amazon Prime delivery vehicles hired by companies affiliated with Amazon must have $1 million in commercial general liability insurance in the event of a crash. But if the driver is not employed by Amazon or by a delivery company, that requirement may not be in effect.
Since 2015 the individual driver service Amazon Flex has involved contract drivers who deliver items quickly to customers who use Amazon’s Prime Now mobile app and pay an annual fee. Houston, Dallas and San Antonio have Amazon Flex deliveries, and some of their drivers also make deliveries of amazon.com packages.
Such individual contract drivers must pay for their own personal auto insurance, which costs less than commercial insurance and tends to provide less coverage.
However, drivers who are driving on Amazon business have Amazon insurance coverage of $1 million in commercial auto liability per accident and $1 million in uninsured/underinsured coverage per accident.
Get A Ridesharing Accident Lawyer Today
If your family has suffered an injury due to the negligence of the driver of a commercial or ridesharing vehicle, contact Jim Adler & Associates today to engage a ridesharing accident lawyer.
Keep in mind that, as with all traffic accident injuries, certain things still must be established in order to gain payments for your injury claim. Chief among them are establishing liability or blame for the accident, as well as establishing the damages and costs of your injury.
Establishing blame can be largely dependent on a victim’s response after an accident. It’s important to take videos and photos of the accident scene and of the injuries involved, as well as to summon police for a formal accident report.
Victims also may be able to gather contact information from eyewitnesses who can confirm that a ridesharing driver was at fault. In an injury case, it’s also important to seek immediate medical help and to document what that involves.
Beyond that, rest assured that a veteran car accident lawyer with Jim Adler & Associates can help steer your case toward a favorable settlement by relying on years of experience dealing with traffic injury claims.