A Closer Look at Ridesharing Crashes

Big ridesharing companies keep getting bigger. In 2022, Uber’s revenue increased by 80% to over $31 billion. Uber and Lyft need lots of drivers to cope with the increased demand. As a result, pretty much anyone with a valid driver’s license can be an Uber or Lyft driver. These companies no longer examine driving records and other evidence as closely as they did before the pandemic.

Uber and Lyft may have lowered their standards, but legal standards remain in place. As outlined below, these standards are high for ridesharing operators and other commercial drivers. So, if these drivers cause crashes, a Marietta personal injury attorney can often obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

First Party Liability

Aggressive driving and impaired driving cause almost all car accidents. Many ridesharing operators drive aggressively while impaired.

Uber pays drivers by the trip, not by the hour. So, the more trips they complete, the more money they make. To get from place to place as quickly as possible, ridesharing operators often speed excessively.

High velocity increases the risk of a crash because velocity decreases reaction time. Speed also multiplies the force in any collision between two objects.

Additionally, many Uber and Lyft drivers have full-time commitments elsewhere. So, when they drive, they are dangerously fatigued. Drowsiness adversely affects judgment ability and motor skills. In fact, driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That is above the legal limit for commercial operators in Georgia.

Aggressive driving and fatigued driving breach a commercial operator’s duty of care. Georgia law imposes a duty of utmost care on commercial operators. So, they must go above and beyond to prevent accidents.

Driving in bad weather is a good example. Noncommercial drivers have a duty to slow down and use extra caution during heavy rain. Arguably, commercial drivers must pull over and wait for the rain to stop or at least slack off.

On a related note, ridesharing operators also have a duty to ensure their passengers are reasonably safe. They cannot pick up or drop off passengers near puddles, mud, or other fall hazards.

Third-Party Liability

Many ridesharing operators are basically uninsured. Most personal auto insurance policies do not cover commercial losses. Since most individuals are judgment-proof, it is vital for a Marietta personal injury lawyer to find another source of recovery in these cases.

Generally, the respondeat superior rule applies to ridesharing crashes. Employers, such as Lyft and Uber, are financially responsible for damages if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was an employee who was working in the course and scope of employment at the time of the crash.

Ridesharing drivers might be independent contractors for many financial purposes. But, since these companies have some control over their behavior, these individuals are employees for negligence purposes. Additionally, any act that benefits the employer is within the course and scope of employment. That definition would include a deadheading crash. Drivers who are waiting for fares benefit their employers.

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