The paradigm shift in the sphere of transportation over the years cannot be overlooked. From the medieval age of donkeys to the advent of bicycles and bikes, there have been significant and noticeable improvements in the transportation industry.
Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have revolutionized transportation in recent years. With just a few taps on a smartphone, one can summon a ride to his/her doorstep within minutes. However, the advent of these services has also raised questions about liability and personal injury claims in the event of an accident. This article will provide an overview of handling personal injury claims while using ridesharing services.
Ridesharing is the practice of arranging for travel in a private vehicle driven by its owner, free or for a fee, especially by means of a website or application.1 Ride-sharing service is an arrangement in which drivers of usually privately owned vehicles who wish to offer rides and passengers who wish to obtain rides use a network (such as one accessed through an app or a website) to coordinate the sharing of individual automobile trips for which the passengers pay a fare. 2
For instance, since the inception of Bolt in 2016, it is estimated that Nigerians have made use of the ride-sharing service for over 250 million rides.3 Most of these users are of the younger generations between the ages of 18 -35 who are willing to take the risk and embrace this technology. Ridesharing seems to be more prevalent in urban cities when compared to rural areas.
Ridesharing apps rely on their drivers who are considered independent contractors as opposed to employees. These drivers set their own schedules, maintain their own cars, provide the necessary legal requirements for ease of operation, and insure their vehicles. It is worthy of note that only a percentage of their earnings are remitted to the coffers of the ridesharing company. This position is however not rigid as there are ridesharing companies that may provide the means of transportation and also bear the cost of additional insurance. This approach to the issue of ridesharing culminates in an array of difficulties for victims of accidents or personal injury involving ride-sharing drivers and passengers.
Liability and Ride Sharing services
In old times, it was relatively easy to place liability in a car accident; such accidents could easily be attached to a driver or multiple drivers who will be held to be typically at fault. The advent of ride-sharing services has significantly changed the narrative.
In placing liability under this head, there is a need to distinguish whether such a person is an employee or an independent contractor. There is also a need to consider whether at the time of the incident, there was a passenger in the car, the driver had accepted a ride or the driver was logged in to the app. The outcome of each case would thus be peculiar to the facts surrounding the occurrence.
Handling personal injury claims
Where an injury is suffered by a rider, a claim can be validly made. We have listed a few tips to prepare for filing of such claims before a court of law. Some of these tips include:
1. Determine the Responsible Party:
In the traditional taxi industry, it was relatively straightforward to determine who was responsible when an accident occurred. However, with ridesharing services, the lines can become blurred. The key is to identify the responsible party, which may include the rideshare company, the driver, or another party involved in the accident. This determination is crucial when filing a personal injury claim.
2. Collect Evidence:
As with any personal injury case, it is essential to gather evidence to support your claim. Take photos of the accident scene, gather contact information from any witnesses, incident and obtain a copy of the police report. In the case of a rideshare accident, it may also be helpful to request the ride history from the rideshare company, as this can provide useful information, such as the driver's identity and the time of the accident.
3. Report the Accident:
Immediately after the accident, report it to the rideshare company. Both Uber and Lyft have protocols in place for handling accidents involving their drivers. Reporting the incident will help create a record and initiate an investigation. This step is of utmost importance, as failure to report the accident promptly can negatively impact your ability to file a personal injury claim.
4. Seek Medical Attention:
Your health should be your top priority. If you sustain any injuries in the accident, seek medical attention immediately. Ensure that you receive a thorough examination and document your injuries and treatments. The medical reports will serve as crucial evidence when filing a personal injury claim. Delaying or failing to seek medical attention can jeopardize your claim, as the opposing party may argue that your injuries are not severe or caused by the accident.
5. Consult with an Attorney:
Navigating the legal complexities of personal injury claims involving ridesharing services can be daunting. To ensure that your rights are protected and you receive fair compensation, it is advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help negotiate with insurance companies, review your case, and guide you through the legal process.
6. File Your Claim:
Once you have gathered the necessary evidence and sought legal advice, you can proceed to file your personal injury claim. Your solicitor will help you draft a demand letter outlining the damages you are seeking, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. They will then negotiate with the responsible party's insurance company on your behalf. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your solicitor may recommend taking the case to court, but the court is usually advised as a last resort. The quantum of damages can also influence which court the matter will be filed.
7. Preserve Important Documents:
Throughout the claims process, it is crucial to preserve all relevant documents, such as medical bills, correspondence with insurance companies, and any other documentation related to the accident. These records will serve as evidence and can support your claim.
Ridesharing services provide convenience and efficiency; however, accidents can still happen. If you find yourself involved in a rideshare accident and sustain injuries, the above-discussed will guide you to handle your personal injury claim effectively. It is important to remember that seeking legal advice and representation can greatly increase your chances of a successful outcome.
hgMYigXSAQg4OTYzajBqN6gCALACAA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 accessed on October 23, 2023
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3. https://punchng.com/nigerians-use-bolt-for-250-million-rides-in-seven-years/ accessed on October 23, 2023
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.