Understanding Rideshare Wrongful Death Cases
In recent years, ridesharing services that allow users to request a ride, track its arrival time, and pay—all from an easy-to-use smartphone app—have become increasingly popular.
These companies tout the ability to provide transportation that's faster, more convenient, less expensive and even safer than traditional taxi services.
However, not everyone's experiences with ridesharing services have been positive. The nation's leading ridesharing services, Uber and Lyft, have faced lawsuits as a result.
For example, in 2015, Uber settled a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a 2013 incident. A driver who was using the Uber app struck three pedestrians as they crossed the street, killing a six-year-old girl and injuring her mother and brother. Lyft has also been named in multiple wrongful death lawsuits following several fatal accidents involving motorcycles.
When the negligence of a rideshare driver or ridesharing company leads to the death of a motorist, passenger, pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist, the family of the deceased may be entitled to compensation.
Rideshare Service Safety Concerns
Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft work hard to provide users with the impression their services are completely safe.
In fact, Uber charged users a “Safe Ride Fee” for several years before agreeing in 2016 to pay a $28.5 million settlement over the use of misleading advertising language that appeared to guarantee users a safe ride. Lyft charged a similar “Trust and Safety Fee” before changing it to a “Trust and Service Fee.” Despite Uber and Lyft's claims their drivers are safe, there are a number of reasons to be concerned about the safety of ridesharing services.
Uber and Lyft claim they put their drivers through extensive background checks to look for disqualifying offenses, such as violent crimes, drunk driving, or reckless driving. However, the companies' background checks aren't as rigorous as those used by traditional taxi companies.
For example, Uber's background check only looks for offenses from the previous seven years, and both Uber and Lyft refuse to implement fingerprint checks for their drivers, which is something taxi companies are legally required to do.
Additionally, because ridesharing services are a new and fast-growing industry, laws are still struggling to catch up.
Rideshare Accident Liability
When rideshare drivers cause fatal accidents, it's logical that they would be named in the wrongful death lawsuit. But what about the ridesharing service? Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services actively work to insulate themselves from liability by claiming that drivers are “independent contractors,” rather than employees.
However, in 2016, a San Francisco federal judge ruled that the classification wasn't enough to completely shield ridesharing services—in this case, Uber—from liability. So, the issue is far from settled.
Also, both Uber and Lyft require drivers to have the state-mandated minimum insurance, and step in with supplemental coverage if someone is injured in an accident caused by a driver who is logged into the app or transporting passengers.
Filing a Rideshare Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If your loved one was killed in a tragic accident involving a ridesharing service, here's what you need to know.
- The victim's spouse, biological or adopted children, or biological or adoptive parents are among those eligible to bring a wrongful death action in Texas. If they haven't filed a claim within three months of the decedent's death, the claim can be brought by a representative of the estate.
- Eligible parties must file the wrongful death lawsuit within two years of their family member's death.
Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If your loved one died in an accident caused by someone driving for a ridesharing service, you may be eligible for compensation for a wide range of damages. The knowledgeable legal team with McGartland Law Firm can review your case and help you understand your rights. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.