Special Issues In Ridesharing Wrecks
Uber and other such companies almost literally mushroomed overnight. In about fifteen years, Uber went from nothing to 1.4 billion rides per quarter. In fact, demand for such services is so high that the companies have issues finding drivers. As a result, many ridesharing operators have little experience and often over-rely on GPS navigation devices. That’s the epitome of distracted driving, even if it’s technically legal to use the gadget.
Insurance is sometimes an issue as well. Personal auto insurance policies usually don’t cover commercial losses. Therefore, many ridesharing operators are essentially uninsured, even when they are deadheading (driving around waiting for fares).
A skilled Tampa Uber accident lawyer knows how to maximize compensation in a distracted driving wreck. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Furthermore, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is uninsured, third party liability theories are usually available.
Duty of Care
Most negligence claims begin with the duty of care. In the ridesharing accident context, this duty is very high.
These operators are common carriers under Florida law. So, they have a duty of utmost care. This duty means that ridesharing drivers are essentially insurers of safe conduct from Point A to Point B.
This responsibility is twofold. Ridesharing operators must take additional steps to avoid accidents. Driving with one eye on a screen and one eye on the road clearly violates this high duty of care. Furthermore, ridesharing operators must pick up and drop off passengers in safe locations. Dark alleys and wet sidewalks are not safe locations.
If ridesharing drivers breach their duty of care and cause injury, they could be legally responsible for damages. Victim/plaintiffs must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
Typically, evidence in a car crash case includes the police accident report, medical records, and witness statements. Distracted driving crashes also often involve device use logs. Typically, the log shows that the device was on and in use at a particular time. Victim/plaintiffs usually need to establish both these things to obtain maximum compensation.
Cell phone records are private. Attorneys need a subpoena at the least, and probably a court order, to access them.
That’s assuming the device use log is available. Frequently, tortfeasors “accidentally” erase this information before an attorney can obtain it. The data is still there, but it’s more expensive and time-consuming to extract.
A spoliation letter is a better approach. This letter creates a legal duty to preserve all potential evidence, including device use logs, for trial. Hillsborough County judges harshly penalize parties who violate these instructions. Plus, jurors often conclude that the tortfeasor was trying to hide evidence.
Third Party Liability
Ridesharing operators are independent contractors for tax purposes. But they are employees for negligence purposes. That’s because the company controls the driver, in terms of things like passengers picked up and money paid. That control is sufficient to establish an employer-employee relationship in this context.
As a result, the respondeat superior doctrine usually applies. Employers are financially responsible for negligent acts their employees commit during the scope of employment. As mentioned, if a ridesharing driver is behind the wheel and available, that driver is usually within the scope of employment.
Vicarious liability is particularly important in ridesharing claims. Without it, a victim might not have access to fair compensation.
Contact a Thorough Hillsborough County Lawyer
Ridesharing injury claims are rather complex. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.