Roswell Rideshare Accident Lawyers
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Rideshare services are an increasingly popular form of on-demand transportation. The convenience of these services, especially in urban areas, is undeniable. In particular, two major providers—Uber and Lyft—are now household names and practically synonymous with the rideshare industry as a whole. Yet, as with any form of roadway transportation, the risk of an accident is always present. The legal and regulatory landscape in the rideshare context is still evolving across the nation. What is clear is that, when rideshare accidents do occur, victims seeking compensation for their injuries face a number of challenges unique to the rideshare context. Our Roswell rideshare accident lawyers can help.
Since its introduction over a decade ago, ridesharing has become enormously popular; each year that goes by sees more and more Americans using rideshares. For example, according to one report by Schaller Consulting, rideshares “transported 2.61 billion passengers in 2017, a 37% increase from 1.90 billion in 2016.”
According to another report by the Pew Research Center, only 15% of Americans used ridesharing services in 2015; this number more than doubled to 36% three years later in the fall of 2018. In that same year, Uber alone reported “nearly 4 million Uber trips. . .every day in the U.S.—more than 45 rides every second.”
Unsurprisingly, ridesharing is especially popular among younger and more urbanized demographics. According to the same Pew report, over half of Americans between 18 and 29 years of age—51%, specifically—reported using rideshares; by contrast, only 24% of individuals 50 years and older reported similarly. Further, 45% of individuals in urban areas and 40% of those in suburban areas reported using rideshares, yet only 19% of individuals residing in rural areas reported similarly.
From its inception, ridesharing has been widely touted for its potential to decrease risk on the road; in particular, proponents have cited decreased numbers of intoxicated or otherwise impaired drivers on the road. At first glance, available statistics seem to substantiate this claim; for example, between 2017–2018, Uber reported 97 fatal car accidents and 107 total fatalities, 90% of which occurred in urban areas. Relative to the number of rides reported in that two-year window, these numbers may appear comparatively low.
However, as ridesharing continues to grow in popularity, these numbers may be misleading; according to an independent study conducted by researchers at Rice University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, “the number of U.S. roadway deaths stood at 32,885 in 2010, its lowest level since 1949.” For context, Uber was founded in 2009 and Lyft in 2012; by 2016, U.S. roadway deaths increased from their 2010 low to 37,461. The study concluded that “the introduction of ridesharing services accounts for a roughly 3% annual increase in those fatalities, or 987 people each year.”
Rideshare regulation in New Mexico
New Mexico was one of the earliest states to pass comprehensive legislation governing ridesharing companies; in 2016, Governor Susana Martinez signed the Transportation Network Company Services Act into state law. The new law exempted ridesharing companies from the state Motor Carrier Act, thereby distinguishing rideshares from more traditional services like taxis; in particular, rideshare drivers no longer have to register their cars as “commercial vehicles.” Further, rideshare drivers are legally classified as “independent contractors” and not as “employees.”
This loosening of regulations was designed to facilitate the presence of rideshare companies in the state. According to a reported statement by the governor’s office, the new law “makes it crystal clear that ride-sharing companies, like Uber [and Lyft], are allowed to operate in the state.”
However, despite the considerable loosening of regulations in favor of rideshare providers, a number of restrictions remain in place. Among the more stringent requirements are those governing the eligibility of rideshare drivers; for example, rideshare companies in New Mexico are required to maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding drug and alcohol use among their drivers, “[which] shall include procedures for suspension or termination of [rideshare] company drivers.” Further, to guard against accidents due to driver fatigue, “driver[s] shall not provide prearranged rides for more than twelve hours out of any twenty-four-hour period.”
The governing law also requires the prospective driver to submit the following information when applying to the transportation network company:
- driver’s license number and state
- driving history
- motor vehicle registration
- proof of the required insurance
Individuals below the age of 21 are not eligible to operate rideshares in New Mexico. Further, rideshare companies must vet their prospective drivers by obtaining local and national criminal background checks.
Read more: NMS § 65-7, Transportation Network Company Services Act
Securing compensation through rideshare insurance
Another significant set of state regulations are those requiring rideshare companies to maintain insurance to cover accidents involving their drivers. Either the rideshare driver, or their company on the driver’s behalf, must maintain primary automobile insurance that covers the driver while he or she is logged on to the rideshare app, or while the driver is engaged in a prearranged ride.
This means that victims of rideshare accidents may be able to recover compensation through their driver’s insurance if the driver has a commercial insurance policy or a personal car insurance policy that otherwise provides coverage for passengers while the driver was working as a rideshare driver. However, most personal insurance policies contain “business-use exception” clauses that bar recovery for injuries sustained while the driver was operating their vehicle for profit. Further, most rideshare drivers do not have commercial insurance policies.
To solve this problem and to ensure that victims of rideshare auto accidents are not left without recourse, New Mexico law places the onus of guaranteeing sufficient insurance on rideshare companies, not their drivers. The law stipulates that if insurance maintained by a rideshare driver has lapsed or does not provide the minimum coverage required by NM law, insurance maintained by the rideshare company for whom they work “shall provide the coverage required as the primary coverage.” At minimum, New Mexico law requires that rideshare companies maintain insurance for their drivers as follows:
Scenario 1. Offline or the Uber App is Turned Off
If an accident occurs while the driver is offline or the rideshare app is turned off on their device, the insurance offers no coverage; in other words, rideshare companies are not required to insure their drivers when they are not working.
Scenario 2. Available or Waiting for a Ride Request
If a driver is involved in an accident while “on the job” but not transporting a customer or en route to a customer, their rideshare company must provide primary automobile liability insurance in the amount of at least:
- $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person;
- $100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident; and
- $25,000 for property damage.
Scenario 3. Transporting a Rider or En Route to Pick Up a Rider
The highest coverage is offered in scenarios where the driver is en route to a customer or transporting a customer; in these situations, New Mexico requires insurance of at least $1,000,000 primary automobile liability for death, bodily injury, and property damage.
Rideshare companies adhere closely to these minimum requirements as required by law. They do not generally provide considerable coverage beyond the minimums.
Personal injury victims in New Mexico should be especially cautious when discussing their accident and injuries with insurance providers. Even your own insurance providers have strong monetary incentives to settle claims for well below the actual value of your injuries.
Your personal injury lawyer can be your greatest ally in ensuring that you are treated fairly and do not inadvertently forego maximum compensation for your injuries. If you were injured in a rideshare accident, call Zinda Law Group to speak with an injury lawyer near you. A 100% free consultation with one of our Roswell rideshare accident lawyers is a call away.
Beware of arbitration clauses
Victims of rideshare accidents should also be aware of the arbitration clauses contained in the terms of service they agree to when engaging with a rideshare company. The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that, “where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars,” you are entitled to a trial by jury. The presence of a mandatory arbitration clause can significantly impact your personal injury claims and requires the attention of a skilled attorney; in essence, mandatory arbitration clauses—when agreed to—waive the right to a trial by jury.
By heavily promoting mandatory arbitration, corporate actors and their allies have gone to considerable length to erode the underpinnings of this right. This is largely motivated by the conventional wisdom that juries composed of laypeople, such as ordinary consumers of rideshares, are statistically unsympathetic to corporate interests.
Of course, most of us do not read the lengthy terms of service contracts that accompany our everyday consumer purchases. Notwithstanding, by simply clicking “I Agree” and engaging the services of a rideshare company, consumers are generally bound by the mandatory arbitration provisions contained in the terms of service. Though these provisions are quite controversial among policymakers and legal scholars, mandatory arbitration clauses are very common in everyday consumer contracts and, by and large, are enforced by courts.
The terms of service agreements implemented by corporate actors, like Uber and Lyft, are designed to be comprehensive. That is, their language is drafted to cover the widest range of disputes possible. The following excerpts (the full provisions are much longer) illustrate the broad scope of these provisions, as well as their difficult “legalese” which often proves confounding to everyday consumers.
Uber Terms of Service—Excerpted
By agreeing to the Terms, you agree that you are required to resolve any claim that you may have against Uber on an individual basis in arbitration as set forth in this Arbitration Agreement, and not as a class, collective, coordinated, consolidated, mass and/or representative action. . . . you and Uber agree that any dispute, claim, or controversy in any way arising out of or relating to (i) these Terms and prior versions of these Terms, or the existence, breach, termination, enforcement, interpretation, scope, waiver, or validity thereof; (ii) your access to or use of the Services at any time; (iii) incidents or accidents resulting in personal injury to you or anyone else that you allege occurred in connection with your use of the Services. . .and (iv) your relationship with Uber, will be settled by binding individual arbitration between you and Uber, and not in a court of law. This Arbitration Agreement survives after your relationship with Uber ends. [Emphasis added.]
Lyft Terms of Service—Excerpted
YOU AND LYFT MUTUALLY AGREE TO WAIVE OUR RESPECTIVE RIGHTS TO RESOLUTION OF DISPUTES IN A COURT OF LAW BY A JUDGE OR JURY AND AGREE TO RESOLVE ANY DISPUTE BY ARBITRATION, as set forth below. . . .ALL DISPUTES AND CLAIMS BETWEEN US. . .SHALL BE EXCLUSIVELY RESOLVED BY BINDING ARBITRATION SOLELY BETWEEN YOU AND LYFT. These Claims include, but are not limited to, any dispute, claim or controversy, whether based on past, present, or future events, arising out of or relating to: [omitted due to length, a list extensively enumerating fact patterns and sources of law giving rise to potential claims]. BY AGREEING TO ARBITRATION, YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU AND LYFT ARE WAIVING THE RIGHT TO SUE IN COURT OR HAVE A JURY TRIAL FOR ALL CLAIMS, EXCEPT AS EXPRESSLY OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that arbitration clauses can have a very high impact on your case; these clauses and their legal significance require close evaluation by a personal injury attorney. Even if your case is bound by an arbitration agreement, a personal injury lawyer can help you argue your case before an appointed arbitrator. If you have been injured in a rideshare accident in Roswell, our personal injury attorneys are prepared to help; call Zinda Law Group for a free consultation with a Roswell injury lawyer.
Beware of statutes of limitations. Contact our Roswell rideshare accident lawyers.
Many key issues impacting personal injury cases are complex and, therefore, require the attention of a skilled attorney. However, one of the simplest concepts governing every personal injury case and on which personal injury victims can take a proactive approach is the governing statute of limitations. Every state sets a statute of limitations, which acts as a deadline after which you can no longer bring your case.
Most states set their statute of limitations for personal injury claims at two years after the date of the accident. New Mexico is more generous to plaintiffs and sets its limitation period at three years. This means that if you have been injured and want to bring a personal injury claim, you must do so before three years elapse after the accident; failure to do so acts as a virtually absolute bar to bringing a claim.
If you have been injured in a rideshare accident in Roswell, do not hesitate to speak with an attorney. Our Roswell accident lawyers are ready to handle your case.
OUR Roswell rideshare accident lawyers CAN HELP
Inevitably, as ridesharing grows in popularity, the more rideshare accidents we are likely to see. Jurisdictions across the country continue to grapple with how best to regulate this evolving market. Because regulations are far from uniform in this complex area of law, it is important that victims of rideshare accidents consult with an attorney.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe that no victim of personal injury should lack excellent legal representation on their path toward maximum compensation; our Roswell rideshare accident lawyers are proud to provide that representation. If you or a loved one have been involved in a rideshare accident in or near Roswell, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with an experienced Roswell injury lawyer today. Tell us about your case, and we will tell you how we can help
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