New York Uber and Lyft Accident Attorney
For the most recent reporting period, the New York City Taxi Limousine Commission (TLC) identified more than 170,000 licensed for-hire drivers across New York City. The TLC regulates for-hire drivers, including app-based drivers from Uber, Lyft and Via, as well as traditional taxi and limousine services throughout NYC. According to the TLC’s data, more than 700,000 ridesharing trips are made in NYC each day. With so many of these vehicles on the road today, it’s essential to know what to do if you are involved in an accident in an Uber, Lyft or other rideshare vehicle.
At Finz & Finz, P.C., we are dedicated to helping injury victims throughout New York City and Long Island obtain maximum compensation for injuries they sustain due to the negligent conduct of others. Our award-winning, highly esteemed NY personal injury lawyers will handle all aspects of your claim, so you can focus on your medical recovery. To learn more about how we can help, contact our rideshare accident lawyers in NYC and on Long Island, NY today.
Why Choose Finz & Finz, P.C. for Your Uber/Lyft Car Accident Claim
For more than 35 years, accident victims throughout NY and Long Island have chosen us because:
- We are nationally recognized legal advocates Our attorneys have received the highest accolades from the legal community. Stuart L. Finz, our firm’s Senior Trial Attorney and CEO, has named by New York Super Lawyers as a top trial attorney for fifteen consecutive years. The Honorable Leonard L. Finz, a former New York State Supreme Court Justice, makes up the other half of our namesake. Judge Finz has been peer-reviewed as one of the most preeminent trial lawyers in the nation.
- We have a highly experienced and dedicated staff – Having litigated thousands of cases in New York, we have an insider’s perspective of the legal system and are well equipped to anticipate potential defenses in order to maximize the effectiveness of your case. Our staff consists of experienced trial lawyers, paralegals, nurses, and support personnel who bring a unique perspective and skillset to the table. Unlike many other personal injury law firms, our trained legal and medical staff are uniquely qualified to assess and develop a legal strategy for every aspect of your case .
- We are driven by results – Our law firm has secured numerous record-breaking verdicts and settlements, resulting in obtaining more than $1 billion on behalf of our deserving clients. When you retain our services, the defendants, their insurance companies, and their lawyers know we will fight hard to achieve the fullest measure of justice for our clients. This is our never-ending commitment to you.
- We have strong relationships with industry-leading experts – We work with world-renowned experts who are leaders in their field. In a typical Uber or Lyft car accident case, we will engage an accident reconstructionist, a forensic economist, a rehabilitation or vocational expert, and medical experts who have the unique ability to explain exactly how your accident occurred, the injuries you suffered, and the lifelong impact of those injuries.
If you are considering filing a rideshare accident claim, let our New York Uber accident attorneys help.
What is a Rideshare Program?
Rideshare programs have become a popular method of transportation across the country and around the world. Commuters who do not have easy access to mass transit and those who would rather not deal with the hassle of hailing a cab, waiting for the bus, or getting on the train or subway can have a private car take them to their destination with just a few taps on a smartphone app.
Rideshare programs such as Uber and Lyft are known as transportation network companies, in that they provide the platform for drivers and passengers to connect. Cars are not hailed on the street like taxi cabs. Instead, users download the company’s app, enabling them to request a ride from drivers in their own personal, non-commercial vehicle. Those who place a request are provided the name and photo of the driver, make and model of the vehicle, and license plate number before the car arrives. Passengers are provided access to the route the driver will take to bring them to their destination, along with an estimated cost of the trip. All payments are made through the app, so there is never a need for cash or credit card inside the vehicle.
Since its inception, Uber has become a multibillion-dollar company with services available in all over the world. While it has been widely accepted as a new and convenient alternative to taxis, the company has received criticism for a practice known as surge pricing. Since Uber sets their own rates, it has been known to significantly increase prices in situations when the demand for rides is high, such as bad weather, holidays, and events at large arenas and stadiums. Riders can request additional options such as luxury cars, vehicles with accessibility for wheelchairs or car seats, and to be able to share the trip with other passengers to cut down on cost.
Lyft has grown to be a major competitor of Uber. The platform offers substantially the same functionality as Uber, in that it offers an app-based alternative to traditional methods of travel, such as taxis, buses, trains, subways, and others. Lyft handles approximately 124 trips per month per vehicle in NYC, compared to 229 trips per month per vehicle by Uber.
Via is the third-leading rideshare app service in NYC. It provides approximately 163 monthly trips per vehicle in NYC. About two-thirds of Via trips are shared.
Safety Concerns Over Uber and Lyft Drivers
Uber, Lyft, and similar companies have long held themselves out as technology companies that match willing drivers and passengers. They have argued that their drivers are independent contractors, not employees. This legal distinction has allowed these companies to skirt labor laws across the nation and in NY, in particular, resulting in lesser qualified and untrained drivers.
The requirements to be an Uber driver are dismally low:
- You have to be at least 16 years old
- You must have at least one year of driving experience
- You must have a valid US driver’s license
- You must use an eligible vehicle
NYC’s TLC requirements are more extensive than the Uber/Lyft guidelines.
Some other rideshare companies have pulled out of cities that passed legislation designed to keep passengers and other motorists safe, such as driver fingerprinting and background checks.
By classifying drivers as “independent contractors,” rideshare companies have historically been able to avoid the obligation to properly train drivers on safe operations or regulate the conduct of their drivers. They also save money by not offering benefits to drivers who are often paid low wages. This incentivizes drivers to finish as many trips as quickly as possible to maximize their earning potential. Often, safety takes a backseat to profits.
As the New York Times has reported, rideshare programs have “maneuvered around labor laws to avoid obligations to drivers.” By refusing to treat drivers as employees, these companies avoid responsibility for providing service materials, scheduling, and regulating drivers’ behavior.
When an Uber accident occurs, agents from Uber’s Special Investigations Unit may be deployed. However, a Washington Post investigation found that these agents are taught to act in the company’s “interest first, ahead of passenger safety.”
In addition, the vehicles that drivers operate are not owned by Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare companies. The vehicles need only be relatively new, but there is no system in place to ensure the vehicle is free of defects or mechanical issues.
While these issues are certainly concerning for anyone involved in an Uber car accident, a recent NY court decision found that Uber drivers are employees, not independent contractors, and are eligible for unemployment benefits. The court held that sufficient factors showed that the company exercised control over its drivers to justify finding that an employment relationship existed. This could lead to more driver training and oversight, and ultimately safer roads for Uber and Lyft passengers and the rest of the travelling public.
Uber/Lyft Liability for Car Accidents in New York and Long Island
The first step in determining liability for a rideshare accident is determining who was legally responsible for the accident.
This determination is based on the individual circumstances of your case, but liable parties may include:
- Uber or Lyft driver
- Driver of another vehicle
- Employer of another vehicle driver
- Rideshare company (i.e., Uber or Lyft)
- Government or agency responsible for maintaining traffic signals and road maintenance
- Company that manufactured a defective vehicle or auto part
Can You Sue Uber or Lyft if You Get into an Auto Accident?
Maybe. If the recent New York appellate court decisions are affirmed and Uber/Lyft is considered the driver’s employer, the employer may be liable based on the legal principle of “respondent superior.” This legal principle says that an employer can be held responsible for the negligent acts of its employee. However, there are exceptions and the law is constantly evolving. It’s important to speak with a rideshare accident lawyer to understand your legal options.
The Process of an Uber/Lyft Car Accident Claim
Like all motor vehicle accident claims in NY, you must be able to show that you suffered physical harm that meets the “serious injury threshold” before you can file a claim against another at-fault driver. If you meet this threshold, you can sue the at-fault driver for the full value of your injuries and make a claim outside the no-fault system.
A “threshold” injury includes:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, function or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Medically determined injury or impairment that prevents you from working for at least 90 days within the first 180 days immediately following the car accident
If your injuries do not meet this definition, your lawyer can explore your options for pursuing compensation under your no-fault insurance.
What Compensation Can I Obtain After an Uber or Lyft Accident?
As part of the investigation process, our firm will identify all of your economic and non-economic injuries and damages. This process will strengthen your case and help us obtain maximum compensation on your behalf.
Potential reasons for compensation after a rideshare accident include:
- Pain and suffering, such as the emotional and physical pain caused by your injuries
- Lost wages, for time missed from work while recovering after the accident
- Reduced earning capacity, if your injuries prevent you from returning to your job
- Loss of consortium, to compensate your spouse for the loss of your companionship
- Medical expenses, such as hospital and doctor bills, physical and occupational therapy, medications, and more.
Legal Help for Uber and Lyft Accident Victims
With the complications and confusion over responsibility in an accident involving a rideshare program such as Uber or Lyft, it is crucial to have a lawyer well-versed in these types of crashes if you are ever involved in an Uber or Lyft car accident.
If you have been in an accident as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle or as the driver of another car in New York or Long Island, contact the experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. We will provide a free case strategy review and help you understand your legal rights and options.