Written By: Attorney John Harper
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In today’s rapidly changing economy, the convenience of technological advances has reduced the necessity for people to drive themselves, and has created more possibilities to have others drive for them. From ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, to delivery companies like UberEats and GrubHub, America’s roads are filled with personal vehicles driven for commercial purposes. Unfortunately, many of these services can unnecessarily endanger our community and cause substantial injuries as a result.
Dealing with large corporations on your own can be difficult and is often intimidating. If you have been injured by a delivery or ride-sharing driver, you may be entitled to hold these companies accountable. The car accident attorneys at Zinda Law Group are experienced and ready to fight on your behalf. Call us at (888) 671-5127 for a free consultation. If we don’t reach a favorable result in your case, you won’t owe us anything.
Can Corporations Be Held Responsible?
Companies involved in ride-sharing and deliveries often attempt to categorize their drivers as “independent contractors,” meaning they are not full-time employees for financial reasons and to evade liability. However, when a driver injures others while on the job, those companies may be held liable under a legal theory called “respondeat superior.” Under “respondeat superior,” a company is vicariously responsible for the harm their drivers cause while on the clock. This means injured parties may pursue actions directly against the companies, as well as against the driver.
Delivery drivers, despite operating their own personal vehicle, are acting as an agent for the company they work for while making deliveries. Under Texas law, companies using delivery drivers are required to maintain insurance policies to cover these workers in the event they cause an accident. Often, these polices provide a substantial amount of coverage to compensate those who are injured in collisions caused by the drivers.
Companies using delivery drivers routinely argue that their driver was not working at the time of the collision and that their insurance policy does not apply. A lawyer may aggressively dispute these contentions and demand companies provide evidence proving their denial. Frequently, these companies will rescind their initial argument and admit that their insurance policy is in fact applicable.
Ride Sharing Drivers Such as Uber & Lyft:
The Texas Legislature adopted House Bill 1733, which became effective January 1, 2016, ensuring that insurance coverage is available to accident victims injured by drivers working for ride-sharing companies. Even if the driver is not covered by their own personal policy, ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft are required to maintain automobile insurance coverage for bodily injury and property damage their drivers cause.
The amount of coverage required by Texas law depends on whether the driver is involved in a prearranged-ride or simply on the clock waiting for a ride to be arranged. In either situation, coverage is available to compensate those injured by ride-sharing drivers. When a driver is using the ride-sharing app without passengers, or not picking up a prearranged ride, Texas law requires ride-sharing companies to maintain insurance coverage with bodily injury limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per occurrence, as well as $25,000 in property damage coverage. When drivers are actively engaged in picking up or transporting passengers, these limits increase substantially.
Read More: Uber Driver Hurt on the Job
As more Americans today utilize delivery and ride-sharing services, the number of these vehicles on the road has dramatically risen, as have the number of accidents these drivers have caused.
Some of the most common risks associated with delivery and ride-sharing drivers include:
- Driving While Distracted: Most delivery and ride-sharing drivers are required to use their cell phone while on the road to receive instructions from their employer. Rather than focusing on the road, these drivers repeatedly shift their attention to their cell phone. Focusing on a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of driving blind, and is one of the most risky actions a driver can take. Driving while using a cell phone is considered by many experts to be as dangerous as driving drunk, and is a leading cause of accidents today.
- Speeding: Many delivery and ride-sharing drivers are compensated based on the number of trips they complete. As such, drivers may be incentivized to drive at excessive speeds and take dangerous maneuvers to save time. This type of driving endangers the entire community and puts their profits above our safety.
- Bicycles and Scooters: Some delivery and ride-sharing personnel operate on bicycles and scooters rather than a typical vehicle. In doing so, many cause accidents by running into pedestrians or causing other vehicles to swerve in order to avoid an accident.
Thus, if a delivery or ride-sharing driver has caused you to be injured, both the driver and the company whom she or he is working for may be liable for your injuries.
Is a Lawyer Necessary?
Typically, if an injured person tries to attain an insurance settlement without the help of an attorney, the insurance company may try to find legal exceptions to paying or may try to pay out significantly less than they are able. In many cases, the insurance company will wrongly claim your fault for the accident through statements gained without attorney advisement. It is advisable to not make any direct statements to the insurance company, but instead, refer them to your experienced accident attorney for any correspondence.
Thus, it is very important to have an experienced attorney fighting on your behalf with the other parties, in court, and with all applicable insurance companies. An attorney may communicate on your behalf so that insurance companies know you are serious about your compensation, and your attorney, in many cases, may seek greater compensation than the insurance company’s initial offer.
What Kind Of Compensation Can I Seek?
An experienced attorney knows what evidence to use in order to seek various damages that may increase your potential compensation. These include tangible losses such as property damage, medical bills associated with the treatment of your injuries, future lost wages, disability, as well as "intangible" damages such as pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering can include the actual pain experienced during medical treatments and surgeries incurred as a result of the accident, as well as emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, and fear caused by the accident. Some accident victims find it more difficult to drive at ease after a roadway incident, and this difficulty and anxiety may be quantified into monetary damages by your attorney.
An attorney with experience handling similar cases may know which parties to sue, including not just the driver, but also the corporate company the driver was working for, expanding your potential sources of compensation. Further, an attorney may conduct an in-depth investigation to acquire evidence that may help prove the suspected fault of the company and the driver, and help prove your damages to the court and insurance companies.
What to Do After a Ride-Sharing / Delivery Accident:
Document the Scene of the Accident:
Take note of any details in order to preserve crucial evidence useful in proving the delivery or ride-sharing driver’s fault and demonstrating the full extent of your injuries. If you require any medical attention at a hospital as a result of the accident, the associated costs for these treatments may be sought from the at fault party by your lawyer. This is highly important, as medical costs can be astronomical, and sometimes future medical costs and treatments may be necessary for your recovery.
Contact an Attorney:
An attorney who has handled similar cases may help you learn your rights, legal deadlines, and communicate on your behalf with all applicable parties and the court. Further, your attorney may conduct in-depth investigations to secure all possible evidence necessary in seeking your highest compensation from the other parties.
Filing a Claim:
Your attorney may take care of all the steps in filing your claim. This includes educating you of your legal rights, conducting in-depth investigations and discovery of evidence about the accident, which are crucial in order to acquire evidence of the other parties' suspected fault and the extent of your damages and injuries. Your attorney may also help ensure compliance with any applicable legal time limit, negotiate with all applicable insurance companies, and communicate and advocate on your behalf with the other parties and the court.
It is highly important after an accident to focus on rest, recovery and regaining your life back. Thus, your attorney, by doing all of the legal work on your behalf, can allow you to focus on your recovery while they seek your maximum compensation. Some cases may result in settlements with insurance companies and the other parties, whom, seeing the evidence your attorney captures, may want to avoid a loss at trial or extended legal costs. In other cases, your attorney may be able to seek your greatest compensation by taking your case to trial and showing your damages to a jury.
Legal Time Limits:
Texas has a statute of limitations, a legal time limit, for bringing accident injury cases. If you or a loved one have been personally injured by a ride-sharing or delivery driver, you will generally have two years from the time of the accident to bring an injury claim against the company and their driver. Your attorney may advise you about the time limit and work on filing your claim within the legal time limit.
The relatively short legal time limit in Texas makes it imperative to seek an experienced attorney as quickly as possible after the accident.
TRUST THE ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced attorneys have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you build the strongest case possible and to seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
Our firm believes that an injured victim should never have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your personal injury claim. That’s our No Fee Guarantee.
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