Uber, Lyft and Ride Sharing Accidents in Las Vegas, NV
Ridesharing is generally much more casual than your typical cab, with most riders sitting in the front of the vehicle and exchanging light banter with the driver. It’s a different experience than a taxi, and has its benefits and drawbacks.
What Is Uber?
The first thing to understand about Uber is that, unlike other ride-sharing options, it’s not actually a transportation company. Instead, it’s a mobile app that connects drivers with passengers. The app also manages passenger’s payment, so no cash has to be exchanged.
Most people use the service known as UberX, which simply pairs a passenger with a nearby driver. The driver uses his personal car to pick up passengers, and drop them off at their requested destination.
Uber hires the drivers as independent contractors. To qualify, they must have a qualifying personal vehicle and pass a limited background check. Once hired, they can log onto the mobile app and find passengers.
What Are The Downsides of Ridesharing?
There is no doubt that there are many benefits to ride-sharing services, including cost and convenience. Because they are fairly new and lack the strict regulations of traditional taxis, however, there are also a wide range of potential issues.
Lawsuits in some states, including California and Nevada, claim there are misrepresentations in the safety and background check practices. The companies claim their background checks require county, state and federal checks that go back a minimum of seven years, however drivers are not fingerprinted or undergo some of the in-depth checks required of cab drivers in most areas.
Some consumer advocates are also cautioning riders about Uber’s terms and conditions, which users must agree to when they download the app. These terms and conditions appear to shield the company from almost any imaginable liability, although these have not been tested in courts.
Then there’s also the fact that the Uber and Lyft platforms are app based, requiring the driver to use their cell phone extensively to find passengers, navigate to locations and provide other information. Handheld cell phone use is illegal in Nevada, and has been since 2012. While we can hope these drivers stay off their phones or use hands-free technology while driving, the temptation may be too much and distractions occur regardless.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Uber and Lyft claim passenger safety is a top priority, yet it is paramount that all passengers take steps to ensure their own safety when using any ride-sharing service. This includes as follows:
- Asking the driver not to use the app while driving, if necessary
- Ensuring the driver pictured in the app matches the driver at pick-up
- Screenshotting the driver’s name, license plate number and photo and sending this information to a friend
- Choosing pick up and drop off at public spots when possible in order to keep your home location private
- Choosing a busy area for late night pick-ups or drop offs
- Keeping your mobile phone fully charged in case of an emergency
- Letting friends know where you are going and when you expect to arrive
Are Uber Drivers Covered?
Drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services also have to take certain precautions to protect themselves while working. One thing that many drivers do seem to be confused about is liability and insurance. In many cases, these concerns are the same as any traditional transportation company, but in other cases there are even more questions raised about the driver’s liability in an accident.
Nevada Insurance Coverage and Limits (covered by the company)
- When in driver mode without a passenger:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of any one person in any one accident, and up to $100,000 for bodily injury or death of two more persons in any one accident, with up to $25,000 for injuries and destruction of property in any one accident.
- When a passenger has been picked up:
- Insurance covers up to $1.5 million. That’s at a combined single limit, including bodily injury, death, and property damage.
This $50,000 policy is above the state minimum for regular drivers, but pales in comparison to the policies taxi drivers and other commercial drivers are required to obtain on their vehicles.
Nevada Legislature recently passed some additional requirements for Lyft and Uber drivers:
- All drivers must obtain a Nevada business license.
- Vehicles used must be not be more than 8 years old.
- Drivers cannot spend over 16 hours in driver mode (or 12 hours of transporting passengers) within any 24-hour period.
- Must acquire Transportation Network Company decal.
- Decal must be kept on vehicle windshield, even while not in driver mode.
- Decal is not transferable to other vehicles.
- Decal must be shown with company emblem when in driver mode
What If I’m In an Accident?
Just as in any car accident, you need to seek immediate medical attention if you are injured. While there will be a large insurance policy to cover your medical expenses, if you are in an accident while ridesharing, you will most likely still need a knowledgeable injury attorney. Accident attorneys can help make sure you receive the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible. If you find yourself in this situation, call Bertoldo, Baker, Carter & Smith at 702-228-2600 to schedule a free evaluation of your case.