August 20, 2015

In case you haven’t heard by now, ride-sharing services are giving traditional taxicab companies a run for their money. High-tech firms like Uber and Lyft provide customers with similar point-to-point transportation services at a substantially reduced price. In fact, Lyft says that its services costs as much as 30 percent less than traditional taxicab fares.

The problem that originates after an accident involving one of these vehicles is at the heart of how ride-sharing works in general. Typically, drivers for these services are considered independent contractors who work indirectly for their parent companies. These drivers operate their own vehicles and use proprietary software apps — usually via their smart phones — to put them in touch with potential customers. Those customers are also linked to the parent company through that same software program.

A customer merely needs to open an app on their phone and request a driver to a specific location. Then the parent ride-sharing company retrieves the customer’s electronic payment information and routes an available driver to the customer’s location. The ride-sharing parent company later splits a share of that profit with the driver.

Although this technology is relatively new, there has already been precedent set with regards to accidents and which party should incur liability. In one 2013 case, Uber has since tentatively settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by family of a 6-year-old girl who had been killed by an Uber driver. At the time of the accident, the driver was reportedly not carrying a passenger, although he was using Uber’s ridesharing app. The resulting fallout of that case prompted both Uber and Lyft to expand their insurance coverage in March 2014 to specifically deal with similar crises.

There are a few things you should know if you have been injured in a ride-sharing accident in Pennsylvania. State law allows injured victims to sue responsible parties in the event that a preventable accident results in their harm. However, determining which parties are culpable in some unusual situations often requires the assistance of a commercial vehicle accident attorney.

An attorney can investigate the circumstances of your case and determine whether you should seek compensation from an individual, a business, an insurance company or a combination of all. If successful, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical costs as well as any lost wages you may have experienced.

Source: Ars Technica, “Uber settles lawsuit with family who sued after 6-year-old killed by driver,” Cyrus Farivar, accessed Aug. 20, 2015