When the first rideshare company, Uber, opened in 2009, critics were quick to dismiss it. Who would get in a car with a complete stranger unless they were a cab driver?
But as the service caught on, other companies jumped on the bandwagon, especially in heavily populated states like California.
From major names like Lyft to lesser-known brands, rideshares are a common part of the Golden State’s transportation today.
Rideshares are a hot-button topic, though. They may have advantages, but there are drawbacks.
As a potential passenger, make sure you’re aware of these statistics and legalities before you use a rideshare in California.
1. Rideshares Are on the Rise, and So Are Accidents in Them
Mathematical probability says the more cars that are on the road, the more accidents are likely to happen. But in the case of rideshares, these crashes bring up the fatality rate by nearly 3%.
Calling it “the cost of convenience,” this study by the University of Chicago and Rice reports that rideshares are dangerous to riders and pedestrians. Since California has the second-highest pedestrian rate in the nation, this is a scary statistic.
Rideshares increase congestion on the highways in Cali that are already known for their busyness. Traffic delays cause drivers to rush to get their passengers where they want to go—and boost tips and ratings.
The result is a perfect storm of negligence that has cost more than 1,100 people their lives around the country. Damages from rideshare crashes fall in the $13 billion range.
2. Overall Accident Trends Are Up
Until rideshares became the norm, traffic injuries and fatalities statistics were declining. In 2010, the United States had the lowest number of fatalities since 1949.
Part of this rising trend is due to driver distraction with electronic devices. Another factor is the number of new vehicles on the road as drivers take on ridesharing jobs. In busy cities like Los Angeles, accidents are rising along with rideshare popularity.
Why would vehicles that aren’t providing rideshare services have more accidents?
The increase in traffic congestion is to blame for many of these crashes. With so many extra vehicles on the road and in a hurry, other drivers are dealing with road rage, frustration, and carelessness.
3. Rideshares Fall Under Complex Insurance Laws
Getting into a vehicle always means taking the chance you’ll be involved in an accident. Whether you’re in a personal car or a rideshare, this is no different.
There is a significant difference in how your insurance covers you, though.
Each rideshare company operates under its own unique framework. Uber and Lyft, for instance, hire their drivers as independent contractors. This absolves the company’s responsibility if their driver was negligent and caused an accident.
The laws get tricky here, though. A skilled personal injury attorney knows how to get coverage for damages outside of the driver’s personal insurance.
Factors That Matter
If you’re injured because of an Uber or Lyft ride, the nuances are essential to your case.
It all starts with your connection. If the driver was actively logged into the company app and you were in the car, the company’s insurance is involved. If the driver hasn’t contacted you yet, their personal policy is responsible.
Uber and Lyft carry excess insurance coverage for liability. Your attorney will build your case against the responsible party based on the details. Driver negligence, personal insurance coverage limits, and the transportation location all make a difference.
Your injuries are another substantial factor. The more severe the damage caused by the company’s driver, the more likely it is that Uber or Lyft insurance will step in.
No one wants to be called out in a lawsuit. When it’s a massive name like a rideshare company, it’s often cheaper to settle out of court quietly.
The many benefits of using a rideshare vehicle mean it’s an industry that isn’t going away any time soon. The unfortunate drawbacks that come with the advantages also put you in danger.
When you’re on the road in California, rideshares are everywhere. Pedestrians, passengers, and other drivers are all at risk.
Coverage for damages caused by a negligent rideshare driver can get complicated. If you’re in an accident where Ubers or Lyfts are involved, make sure you get a lawyer with experience in rideshare laws.