The ridesharing industry has been growing in leaps and bounds since it hit the scene a decade ago. What Uber and Lyft have done is to shake up the taxi and hired car market in ways nobody imagined at the beginning of this millennium, yet aside from an increase in availability and relatively affordable individualized transportation, other aspects of the industry are not much changed when it comes to day-to-day operation.
As with any taxi service — be it the old traditional yellow cabs of the past century or the app-driven ride-hailing services of today — road accidents can and do happen with almost clockwork certainty. Whether your cabbie works for a large taxi fleet based out of Baltimore or an independent hack working in the Annapolis or Rockville area, the human behind the wheel is subject to the same physical and mental limitations as they have always been.
Case in point, the story of an Illinois Uber operator who was allegedly impaired by alcohol when his vehicle strayed into oncoming traffic and smashed head-on into a handful of cars in the opposing traffic lanes. This multi-car collision resulted in numerous injuries — several of the victims were taken to local emergency rooms for treatment of thankfully non-life-threatening injuries.
These kinds of accidents take place every day all across the country, including here in Maryland and Washington, D.C. According to news articles covering the above-mentioned collision, 42-yer-old Hector Hernandez was in between Uber fares when the accident took place just after 2am on a Sunday morning. When police and EMS personnel arrived at the accident site, they came upon four damaged cars littering multiple lanes of the roadway, with some occupants of those vehicles in need of immediate medical care due to obvious head injuries.
According to reports, the Uber driver was not carrying a fare at the time of the crash, but told police that he was waiting for his next taxi call when his vehicle hit the other three vehicles. According to police reports, the Uber driver crossed the double yellow line and into oncoming traffic flow. Police said all of the vehicle suffered heavy damage and needed to be towed away. The accident resulted in local traffic being shut down for about 90 minutes while EMS and fire department personnel handled the accident scene.
In the aftermath of the crash, police charged the Uber driver with DUI, operating in the wrong traffic lane, as well as improper lane usage and failure to slow down to avoid a collision. The driver’s blood-alcohol level (BAC) was listed as 8.6 percent (.086), which is over the threshold BAC for drunken driving.
From a legal standpoint, had this accident occurred in Maryland, the driver’s insurance policy may not have provided much in the way of monetary compensation for the numerous victims injured as a result of the Uber driver’s negligence. Furthermore, the conditional nature of the Uber-provided liability policy may only serve to complicate matters when it comes to injury claims filed by any one of the victims.
Maryland Auto Insurance Law Experts
As Baltimore auto accident attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, recognizes that personal injury claims arising from roadway accidents involving Uber or Lyft drivers are often made more complex by the existence of dual insurance policies — the driver’s personal vehicle accident insurance, which should cover those times when the driver is not “working” as a taxi service; and the policy provided by Uber (or its competitor, Lyft), which provides what can best be described as “variably” coverage when the driver is actively working for one of these ridesharing companies.
We discuss this in greater detail on our website, but in a nutshell, there are three typical conditions pertaining to the applicable insurance coverage for an Uber or Lyft vehicle that rideshare driver-operators (and their passengers) should be aware of:
- Driver is available and waiting for his or her next customer — coverage is limited to liability only ($50,000/person or $100,000/accident). Note that this insurance applies only if when the driver’s insurance limits are less than the policy provided by Uber or Lyft.
- Driver has accepted (or already is carrying) a fare — the Uber- or Lyft-provided $1 million insurance policy is activated. Note that the driver’s personal auto insurance will not be active whenever the vehicle is being used for business.
- Vehicle is being operated for personal use, not business. When an accident takes place during non-working hours, neither Lyft nor Uber’s provided coverage will apply and the driver’s own personal auto insurance policy should take effect.
As we explained previously, Maryland injury accidents similar to the one described in the above-mentioned article can result in complicated legal issues for all parties concerned due to the existence of two separate insurance policies for the same driver/vehicle. In fact, there can be instances where one or both of the insurance carriers may dispute that their respective policies was even in effect at the time of the crash. Obviously, this can be a very troubling situation for victims who may have been badly hurt in a Lyft- or Uber-related traffic accident.
Baltimore Ride-hailing Accident Attorneys
Without a doubt, any person who is injured in a Maryland or Washington, D.C., ridesharing accident should seriously consider retaining the legal services of a qualified personal injury attorney with experience in handling auto accident cases involving an online ride-hailing service. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we understand Maryland insurance statutes as well as the intricacies of Uber and Lyft liability policies. Because these drivers are contractual workers (and not employees in the traditional sense), ridesharing corporations are for the most part insulated from lawsuits arising out of the negligent actions of their drivers. Despite this, our legal team will fight for the right of victims to receive the financial compensation to which they are due under the laws of the State of Maryland.
If you have been injured in a traffic accident caused by the driver of a Lyft or Uber ridesharing vehicle, we encourage you to seek the help of a skilled Baltimore injury accident lawyer. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, have the legal training and courtroom experience to assist you in filing your injury claim against the negligent party or parties. Please take a moment to call our office to arrange for your free, no-obligation initial consultation. You owe it to yourself and your family to give yourself the best possible chance for legal success.
Uber Driver Accused Of DUI In Crash: Riverside Cops; Feb 4, 2020