San Antonio Rideshare Accident Lawyers

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Whether minor or catastrophic, auto accidents can be enormously stressful. Further, rideshare companies and insurance companies have strong monetary interests in shifting blame to avoid compensating you for your injuries. Often, Texas state laws that are in place also frustrate victims in their efforts to secure compensation. Our San Antonio rideshare accident lawyers can definitely help.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a rideshare accident in or around San Antonio, Texas. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer near you.

Rideshare Statistics

In recent years, ridesharing has become hugely popular. According to the Pew Research Center, 15% of Americans said they had used ridesharing services in late 2015. By contrast, this number more than doubled to 36% by 2018. In many parts of the country, it is now a ubiquitous form of transportation.

Unsurprisingly, these numbers correlate differently based on age. For example, Pew reports that just over half (51%) of Americans between ages of 18 and 29 say they have used a ridesharing service. By contrast, only 24% of those over the age of 50 report similarly.

Perhaps even more unsurprisingly, the numbers also correlate differently between urban and rural areas. In urban communities, 45% of residents report having used ridesharing services, whereas only 19% of Americans in rural communities reported similarly.

A handful of ridesharing companies were founded in the past decade—examples include Fasten, Sidecar, and Wingz. Many have come and gone. Of course, Uber (founded in 2009) and Lyft (founded in 2012) are by far the most popular ridesharing companies; indeed, these providers hardly need introduction, as their names are now nearly synonymous with the rideshare industry.

These two players have grown exponentially since their founding and have come to dominate the marketplace; by some estimates, Uber accounted for 71% of the United States market share in January 2022 and Lyft for 29%. Interestingly, the same study also found that most customers rely on one company or the other for ridesharing services. Specifically, 66% of customers use only Uber and 24% use only Lyft; few customers (only 10%) use both services.

Of course, the more rideshare drivers there are on the road, the greater the likelihood that they will be involved in auto accidents. Uber reported that, in 2019, “nearly 4 million Uber trips happened every day in the U.S.—more than 45 rides every second.” Uber further reported 97 fatal crashes reported in relation to rideshare service between 2018­ and 2019; these crashes resulted in 107 total deaths.

The vast majority of these accidents took place in urban areas (approximately 90%). Further, based on data drawn from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Uber reported that, of these fatalities:

  • Rideshare drivers accounted for 21%.
  • Uber customers accounted for 21%.
  • Third parties accounted for 58%.

Though ridesharing has often been promoted as a way to reduce roadway accidents (for example, by reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road), some studies have reported an increase in roadway accidents since the widespread introduction of ridesharing services. For example, according to a study conducted by economists at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the number of U.S. roadway deaths in 2010 totaled 32,885 (the lowest level since 1949); by 2016, that number increased to 37,461. The study concluded that the introduction of ridesharing services accounted for an estimated 3% annual increase between 2010 and 2016 in fatalities, or 987 deaths each year.

Special legal issues in rideshare auto Accidents

Since its introduction into the marketplace, the ridesharing model has given rise to a number of novel legal and regulatory issues, both at the federal and state level. Jurisdictions across the nation have handled these issues differently, and the landscape continues to evolve. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group can guide you as you take your rideshare accident case through this unfolding area of the law.

Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Perhaps the primary issue that jurisdictions have grappled with is whether rideshare drivers should be classified as “employees” or as “independent contractors.” The distinction is important for a number of reasons. For example, companies are required to provide certain benefits to employees that they are not required to provide to independent contractors; secondly but just as importantly in the personal injury context, companies may be held liable for the injuries caused by their employees, but they are generally not liable for those caused by independent contractors.

Courts and legislatures across the country have taken different stances on this issue. For example, it has been particularly divisive in California. In the 2018 case of Dynamex Operations W., Inc. v. Superior Court, the Supreme Court of California articulated the following test (commonly known as the “ABC” test) to determine a worker’s status:

[A] worker is properly considered an independent contractor if the hiring entity establishes that the worker:

1. is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work

2. performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business

3. is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity

In 2020, the California Legislature statutorily formalized and adopted this three-pronged test. It did so largely for the purpose of regulating rideshare behemoths—namely, Uber and Lyft—by essentially forcing them to cease classifying their drivers as independent contractors. The law has since proven extremely controversial, and rideshare companies have continued seeking avenues to challenge its scope and legality.

By contrast, the Texas Legislature has taken a distinctly different approach, favoring the classification of rideshare drivers not as employees but as independent contractors. The relevant law, enacted in 2017, provides:

A [rideshare] driver is considered an independent contractor for all purposes if the company does not:

1. prescribe the specific hours during which the driver is required to be logged into the company’s [app]

2. impose restrictions on the driver’s ability to use other companies’ [apps]

3. limit the territory within which the driver may provide rides; or

4. restrict the driver from engaging in another occupation or business

Additionally, “the company and the driver [must] agree in writing that the driver is an independent contractor.”

Interpreting the text of the statute, the Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas made clear that the law was, in large part, designed to shield rideshare companies. It explained that numerous municipalities had established ordinances regulating rideshare companies, resulting in a “patchwork of regulations across the state, making it difficult for these companies to maintain uniform policies and procedures.” The new statute was intended to address the quagmire.

The national debate continues on how best to regulate rideshare employment. Developments in California and Texas (the nation’s largest rideshare markets) provide but two examples. Though there remains much variability across state lines, the present law in Texas ultimately cuts in favor of reducing liability for rideshare companies in the event their drivers are involved in auto accidents.

The personal injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group are experienced in handling rideshare accidents across the country, including in Texas. Our San Antonio rideshare accident lawyers are ready to evaluate your case and strategize a path toward maximum compensation.

Read more: For an in-depth analysis of the laws and regulations governing rideshare companies in Texas, see Martha A. Salas, Holding Ridesharing Companies Accountable in Texas, 49 St. Mary’s L.J. 879 (2018).

Rideshare Company Insurance

Though the Texas Legislature has, in general, taken a regulatory approach lowering liability for rideshare companies, it has also imposed minimum insurance requirements for rideshare drivers in order to protect riders in the event of an accident. This is important because many auto-insurance policies only cover damages stemming from “personal use” of a vehicle, which excludes coverage for damage arising from rideshare driving (“commercial” use). The governing law explains that:

1. If an insurance policy maintained by a [rideshare company] driver does not provide the coverage required, the [rideshare company] shall provide the coverage required beginning with the first dollar of a claim against the driver.

2. Coverage under an automobile insurance policy maintained by the [rideshare company] is not contingent on a . . . driver’s personal automobile insurer initially denying a claim.

In other words, the onus is largely on the rideshare companies to ensure that minimum insurance requirements are met. The companies cannot shift the burden entirely to their drivers.

To satisfy these  minimum requirements, Uber and Lyft have adopted essentially identical insurance policies. First, any claim must be submitted to the driver’s own insurance company (auto insurance is required for becoming an Uber or Lyft driver). If the claim is rejected, the driver and any accident victims may then turn to the company’s liability insurance.

Three Scenarios Affecting Insurance Coverage

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, Uber and Lyft do not 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, Uber and Lyft provide the following coverage:

  • $50,000 in bodily injury per person
  • $100,000 in bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage per accident
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, Uber and Lyft summarize their coverage as follows:

  • $1,000,000 for bodily injury and property damage caused to a third party (for example, passengers, pedestrians, and occupants of other vehicles)
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury (in the event the at-fault driver’s insurance is nonexistent or insufficient)
  • Contingent comprehensive and collision, which covers damage to the driver’s vehicle

If you have been injured in a rideshare accident, our San Antonio accident lawyers are a phone call away and ready to explain the impact of these insurance provisions on your case.

Read more: Tex. Ins. Code § 1954, Insurance for Transportation Network Company Drivers; Rideshare Insurance – Uber; Rideshare Insurance – Lyft

WHAT TO DO AFTER An Uber ACCIDENT

Auto accidents can be very stressful experiences; rideshare accidents are no different. If you were involved in an auto accident involving a rideshare company in San Antonio, consider taking the following steps.

Report the Accident

Report the accident to the relevant parties and authorities, such as by calling the police to the scene when necessary. However, even if the police are not summoned to the scene, you should still file an accident report as soon as possible; early reports of the accident will serve as the first pieces of evidence in your case. You can put Uber or Lyft on notice of any accidents involving their drivers by filing a report through their respective websites.

Read more: Report an Accident to Uber; Report an Accident to Lyft; City of San Antonio, Obtaining Police Reports

Collect Evidence & Exchange Contact Information

Ultimately, you will need evidence to argue for compensation. The early stages after an accident, especially at the scene of the accident itself, provide an excellent opportunity to gather key evidence to substantiate your case. The more time that elapses after the accident, the more time there is for memories to fade and for evidence to become stale.

Audio, images (photographs and videos), and notes can all help preserve the freshest perspective possible. For example, even a simple screenshot of your weather app near the time of the accident may turn into key evidence showing that, given weather conditions (heavy fog, wet roads, etc.), the at-fault driver should have operated their vehicle more safely.

You should also exchange information with any involved drivers; gather both the driver’s contact information and that of their respective insurers. Keep in mind passengers and drivers are often too involved in the accident itself to have a clear perspective on fault; therefore, do not neglect to exchange contact information with any witnesses. Often, witnesses provide unique evidence that can only be obtained through their testimony; for example, they may have been the only person to see an at-fault driver speed through a red light.

Get Medical Attention

In addition to helping you recover from your injuries, medical treatment will also be a key stage in developing evidence. Your medical providers will create records detailing the extent of your injuries and of the necessary treatment. Ultimately, this will be translated into your damages.

Your economic damages will correlate with the actual cost of treatment; your non-economic damages, which are generally more difficult to prove, will largely be a reflection of the pain and suffering evidenced from your treatment records. Therefore, be open with your medical providers, and do not underestimate the extent of your pain and suffering caused by “minor” injuries. The more open you are with your providers, the more complete your treatment records will be.

Consult With a San Antonio Accident Lawyer

Finally, you are highly advised to consult with an attorney. Our San Antonio injury lawyers are committed to helping you. We will evaluate your facts, analyze the relevant law, help you gather evidence, strategize a path toward compensation, represent you in negotiations with difficult adverse parties, and argue on your behalf in court if necessary.

In particular, be careful when negotiating with adverse parties, especially the agents of their respective insurance companies. Remember, anything you say to these actors can be used against you in litigation. Therefore, never sign forms or waivers provided by an insurance company and never admit fault before consulting with an attorney.

Read more: How to Negotiate with and Insurance Company

OUR San Antonio Rideshare Accident Lawyers CAN HELP

If you or a loved one have been injured in a rideshare accident in or near San Antonio, call Zinda Law Group to speak with an injury lawyer near you. The specialized nature of rideshare accidents and the accompanying state regulations often lead to unique challenges in securing compensation. We believe that no personal injury victim should face those challenges in the path toward compensation alone.

Our San Antonio rideshare accident lawyers are here to help. We have many experienced San Antonio injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group, all of whom provide free consultations and a No Win, No Fee Guarantee. This means that you pay nothing unless we win your case.

Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with an experienced San Antonio rideshare accident lawyer. Tell us about your case, and we will tell you how we can help.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.