Fort Collins Rideshare Accident Lawyers
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Car accidents have always been an unfortunately common occurrence since automobiles were first invented and even more so as roads become more crowded. Adding to the crowded streets has been the rise of rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft, which allow individuals to use their personal vehicles to transport people. Because of the complicated structure of these rideshare services, liability can often be confusing after an accident if one or more of the vehicles involved were being used as part of a rideshare service. Our Fort Collins Rideshare Accident Lawyers can help.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled Fort Collins rideshare accident lawyers; we can help you understand your next steps following your accident. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
When car accidents in Fort Collins involve rideshare vehicles, it adds an additional layer of complexity to an already emotional and confusing time. With the rapid growth of rideshare services in many areas of Colorado, including Fort Collins, the risk of being involved in a car accident involving a rideshare vehicle increases; in fact, it has grown tremendously over the last several years. Injury claims for these accidents generally fall under personal injury claims, similar to other car accidents; hiring a skilled Fort Collins accident lawyer is crucial after these accidents, as rideshare drivers are subject to different laws and regulations than other drivers in Colorado, and determining liability after these accidents will be much more complex than with other car accidents.
How are rideshare services different from taxis?
Rideshare services have become popular, convenient, and affordable alternatives to commuting, carpooling, public transportation, and more traditional taxi services. Rideshare companies, such as Lyft or Uber, have quickly risen in popularity and prominence. Some of the most significant differences between these services and more traditional taxicab services includes:
- How each service is accessed by a rider
- The options available to passengers
- The classification of the drivers and their vehicles
- The insurance requirements for the drivers
- The typically cheaper cost of these services
Rideshare services allow one or more people to summon their own personal driver with the touch of a few buttons on an app, who will then come pick up the passengers at a designated spot and take them anywhere they want to go. Most of these services even allow passengers to select various vehicle options, such as a more luxurious vehicle, or a vehicle that will hold more passengers, with the total price reflecting these choices as well as whether passengers select options such as sharing the ride with strangers or agreeing to a longer wait time in exchange for a reduced fare.
Further, these services typically classify their drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees, like traditional taxi drivers, which means that these drivers have to file their taxes as self-employed individuals, are generally not eligible for any employee benefits unless a state has specifically enacted laws providing otherwise for these drivers, and most importantly, the rideshare service may not be liable for an accident involving the driver in many cases. Meanwhile, because rideshare services classify their drivers as independent contractors, the drivers also use their own personal vehicles rather than commercial vehicles like taxi drivers do, who use various vehicles in the taxicab company’s fleet. Finally, rideshare drivers may not carry as much insurance coverage in the event of an accident.
While each of these differences help allow a rideshare service to often offer cheaper fares to passengers than taxi companies, these factors also add a significant amount of complexity to an accident involving a rideshare vehicle; they also have the potential to make it more difficult for a victim to pursue compensation for his or her injuries or damages. As a result, you should contact a Fort Collins injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to determine your legal rights and whether you may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries or damages.
Common causes of rideshare accidents in Colorado
Rideshare accidents in Colorado can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:
Sudden Passenger Pickups
Rideshare drivers, like those with Uber or Lyft, will often pick passengers up almost anywhere, including in or near crosswalks, intersections, or other high traffic areas. When these drivers suddenly stop or swerve to park for a pickup—especially in areas not designated for parking or passenger pickups—these pickups may cause accidents with bicyclists, pedestrians, passengers being picked up, or other drivers.
As with any other vehicle crash, speeding is often a contributing factor, as speeding causes a driver to have less time to respond to dangerous situations or hazards, such as a traffic signal, a pedestrian stepping into the intersection or street, roadwork, or other hazards. Rideshare drivers generally have an incentive to speed, as the faster they reach the passenger’s destination to drop them off, the sooner they can accept another ride and continue earning more money. Because rideshare services are paying the driver per trip, instead of fares being based on the amount of time the passenger spends in the vehicle as is the case with most taxicab services, many rideshare drivers may drive much more aggressively, such as by cutting corners, ignoring speed limits, running stop signs, or violating other traffic laws.
Distracted driving is another of the primary causes for many car collisions across the country, and in Fort Collins too. A driver may get distracted by adjusting the radio, talking to others in the vehicle, eating, or any other reason that causes a motor vehicle driver to divert their attention away from the road and fail to recognize and respond to potential hazards. In the case of an Uber or Lyft driver, the driver may also have been distracted by using the rideshare service’s app at the time of the accident, such as to accept another ride.
Any time that a driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the intoxicated driver is putting everyone else on the road in danger by increasing the risk for causing a collision that likely could have been prevented. Further, in some cases, an intoxicated passenger in the rideshare vehicle may also have caused the accident if the intoxicated person distracted the rideshare driver, thus resulting in the accident.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Because rideshare drivers drive their own personal vehicles or rented ones, and the service does not own those vehicles, the driver is responsible for properly maintaining their own vehicle and ensuring it is in safe condition. Rideshare services usually perform few or no checks to make sure the drivers’ vehicles are kept in good working order, despite Colorado creating a legal requirement for companies to do so in 2014. Given the broad lack of accountability or incentives for drivers to properly maintain their vehicles, an accident may result, with other drivers, pedestrians, or the rideshare passenger in the vehicle potentially suffering injuries or damages as a result.
Rideshare services typically place few or no limits on their drivers’ working hours, thus most do not regulate how many hours the driver may operate each day. This factor, combined with many rideshare drivers often beginning service after having already worked at another job, can create very dangerous situations for everyone else on the road, including the driver’s passenger, if the driver is not able to remain fully alert, awake, and focused while operating the vehicle. In many accidents, a rideshare driver may have been unable to react quickly enough to changing road conditions, may have fallen asleep behind the wheel and swerved into oncoming traffic or off the road, or otherwise negligently caused an accident, just because the driver was fatigued.
Colorado Law Regulating Rideshare Services
In 2014, Colorado became one of the first states in the country to enact legislation to regulate rideshare services, including to establish insurance requirements for both the rideshare company and drivers operating for the service.
Drivers Engaged in Prearranged Rides
Colorado Revised Statutes Section 40-10.1-604(2) requires a rideshare company, classified as a “transportation network company” under Colorado law, to maintain insurance coverage of at least $1 million per occurrence for any accident involving one of the company’s drivers during a “prearranged ride.” According to C.R.S. Section 40-10.1-602(2), a “prearranged ride” begins when the driver first accepts a requested ride through the service’s app and then continues until the passenger has left the vehicle. If the driver is involved in an accident while not logged into the app or while logged in but waiting to accept a ride, the rideshare company’s insurance policy may provide little or no coverage for the accident.
Drivers Not Engaged in Prearranged Rides
Instead, drivers are required to maintain personal auto insurance for their vehicles; the driver’s personal insurance coverage would apply if the accident occurred while the driver was not engaged in a “prearranged ride.” If the driver turned off the app or was otherwise offline, then the driver’s insurance will apply, and the rideshare service’s insurance policy will likely provide no coverage. If the driver is online and set to “Ready” or anticipating a ride request, then the rideshare service’s insurance coverage may still apply if the driver’s car insurance is not applicable; however, this insurance coverage will be significantly lower in these situations, as the company’s coverage will only provide up to $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, up to $100,000 total for bodily injury per accident, and only up to $25,000 in property damage per accident.
How is liability determined in a Fort Collins rideshare accident? Our Fort Collins Rideshare Accident Lawyers are here to help.
If you were involved in a rideshare vehicle accident in Fort Collins, one of the first questions your Fort Collins injury lawyer will work to answer is determining who may be liable for your injuries or damages, as there will typically be multiple parties who may be liable for the accident. Your attorney will also determine whether you may be able to pursue compensation from the ridesharing service itself, such as if the driver was engaged in a “prearranged ride” or if the driver’s personal auto insurance coverage does not apply. In some cases, the ridesharing company itself may be liable, such as if the service failed to properly screen a high-risk driver with a history of traffic accidents.
After determining who may be liable for your accident, your attorney will then need to conduct a thorough investigation to gather sufficient evidence to prove your personal injury claim. To prove a personal injury claim in Colorado, you will need to prove that the other party was negligent in causing the accident by proving the following elements:
- The other party owed you a duty of care, such as the duty to avoid causing an accident.
- The other party breached that duty, such as by speeding or running a stop sign.
- Their breach of their duty actually caused your injury.
- You suffered injuries or damages in the accident.
What should I do after an uber or lyft accident in fort collins?
If you have been involved in an accident in Fort Collins that involved a rideshare vehicle, you will need to carefully follow the necessary steps to both ensure your safety and protect your legal rights and potential ability to pursue any compensation you may be entitled to. After your accident, you should:
- If you can, move your vehicle out of traffic.
- If you were a passenger in the Uber or Lyft, take a screenshot of your ride status within the app as proof you were a passenger at the time of the accident.
- Seek immediate medical attention to treat any potential injuries.
- Contact local law enforcement, and be sure to obtain a copy of the police report if one is filed by law enforcement for your accident.
- If you were a passenger in the rideshare vehicle, report the accident via the app.
- Document as much evidence as possible of the accident, including pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved in the accident, traffic signs or signals, and road conditions.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver and obtain contact information from any potential witnesses.
- Contact an experienced Fort Collins accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your legal rights and ability to pursue maximum compensation.
- Be sure to not speak to anyone from an insurance company until you have hired a skilled personal injury lawyer to represent you.
Contact skilled Fort Collins rideshare accident lawyers near you today
The growth of rideshare services has made travel in many areas more convenient and affordable. However, these services have also led to a rise in traffic on the roads, and with this increase in traffic comes a higher risk of car accidents. Meanwhile, victims of car accidents involving a rideshare vehicle are often faced with the additional complexity of figuring out how to pursue compensation for their injuries and damages suffered in the accident.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash in Fort Collins which involved a rideshare vehicle such as driven by an Uber or Lyft driver, call Zinda Law Group today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Fort Collins personal injury attorney; we will discuss how you may be able to pursue compensation for the accident from the other driver, rideshare service, or another party. Your attorney will help you understand your legal rights, and while you focus on recovering from your injuries, your lawyer can handle your case, pursuing maximum compensation for your claim.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.