Seattle Ride-Share Accidents Lawyer
Ride-sharing refers to the modern form of paid carpooling services, usually provided through third-party mobile phone applications (or apps). The city of Seattle passed an ordinance in 2014 regulating transportation network company drivers, requiring them to have a valid Washington driver’s license, a valid for-hire driver’s license, a transportation network company vehicle endorsement, and a valid city of Seattle business license, among other requirements.
Uber and Lyft are two of the biggest players in the Seattle ride-share market, but other companies providing services include Seattle-based startup Moovn as well as Blacklane, Curb, Flywheel, Jayride, ReachNow, and Talixo. Ride=share drivers are under tremendous pressure pick up passengers and get them to their destinations quickly.
With that increased pressure comes an increased number of accidents. If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a ride-share accident in the Greater Seattle area, you are going to want assistance recovering the damages you need and deserve. An experienced personal injury law firm will be able to help you navigate the complicated insurance coverage involved in these types of claims.
Do I Need a Ride-Share Accidents Lawyer?
Whether you were injured in a ride-share accident as a passenger in a ride-share vehicle or as an occupant in another vehicle involved in the crash, the initial assumption is often that the ride-share company can be held liable for damages. Unfortunately, many ride-share companies will aggressively seek to deny liability, often attempting to transfer blame to their drivers.
In many cases, companies will claim drivers were independent contractors, and, often, there are disputes as to whether a driver was logged into a ride-share network at the time of their accident. You will want to have an attorney on your side so that an independent investigation can be started immediately, and you can preserve the most important evidence in your case.
Insurance companies for the ride-share companies (or the driver themselves) will often contact victims in these cases, and you should always refuse any offer from an agent or claims adjuster to provide a recorded statement. While you may see no harm in sharing your recollection of how your accident occurred, these conversations are often exploited by insurance company representatives as opportunities to get people to unknowingly admit to negligence.
An insurer could also offer you a lump-sum settlement to resolve your case, and you are right to question whether you are getting all that you could because chances are very good that you are not. Another advantage to having a lawyer represent you is that they will know what your case is worth and can fight to recover that amount.
Why Choose Caffee Law to Handle My Case?
The Caffee Law handles a wide variety of automobile accident claims, and we understand the complexity of ride-share cases. Our firm helps victims obtain all of the compensation they need and deserve.
Jeffrey R. Caffee is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, the King County Bar Association, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. The National Trial Lawyers has named him one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the nation every year since 2013.
Mr. Caffee received the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Trial Academy Scholarship in 2011. He was honored by the International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 2009 with an Award for Advocacy for distinguished achievement in the art and science of advocacy.
You should also know that Caffee Law represents clients on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing unless you obtain a financial award. We will negotiate for a just settlement to your case, but we can file a lawsuit when an insurance company does not make an acceptable offer.
Types of Ride-Share Accident Cases We Handle
Seattle Municipal Code § 6.310.110 defines a transportation network company as “an organization whether a corporation, partnership, sole proprietor, or other form, licensed under this chapter and operating in the City of Seattle that offers prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled TNC application or platform to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles and that meets the licensing requirements of Section 6.310.130 and any other requirements under this chapter.”
In addition to the earlier listed requirements for transportation network company drivers, Seattle Municipal Code § 6.310.452.B provides that a driver cannot be in control of a for-hire vehicle for more than 12 hours spread over a total of 15 hours in any 24-hour period. Vehicles must have valid automobile insurance when they are not operating on the company app, as insurance can become complicated in ride-share crashes very quickly, depending on whether a driver was logged into the ride-share company’s network.
Ride-share companies are required to maintain commercial insurance coverage for all company-affiliated vehicles at any time they are active on an online dispatch application, and the insurance coverage must include bodily injury limits of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, at least $25,000 for property damage, and uninsured motorist insurance of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
Many ride-share companies have insurance policies that operate as follows:
- Driver Not Logged Into Company Network — The personal automobile insurance of the driver covers all damages.
- Driver Logged Into Company Network, But No Passenger Requests — A ride-share company may provide excess coverage for damages exceeding a driver’s personal limits. For example, Lyft provides $50,000 per person for bodily injury, $100,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 per accident for property damage, while Uber offers $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.
- Driver Picking Up Passenger or Transporting Passenger — When drivers have passengers or are on the way to meet passengers, Uber and Lyft both have $1 million liability and $1 million uninsured policies.
Common causes of ride-share accidents include but are not limited to:
- Violations of other traffic laws
- Speeding or reckless driving
- Driver fatigue
- Driving under the influence
- Distracted driving
Not all ride-share claims necessarily involve motor vehicle accidents. Some drivers may commit violent or sex crimes against their passengers.
Seattle Ride-Share Accidents Statistics
A September 2018 study from the University of Chicago and Rice University found that the “arrival of ridesharing is associated with an increase of 2-3 percent in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents.” The study found that the 3 percent annual increase associated with the introduction of ride-sharing in fatalities represented an additional 987 lives lost each year.
In April 2018, KIRO-TV reported that the Seattle Police Department had investigated at least five alleged sexual assaults by Uber and Lyft drivers in the past year. The following month, a CNN investigation involving analysis of police reports, federal court records, and county court databases across the country found that 103 Uber drivers and 18 Lyft drivers had been accused of sexual and violent crimes.
A February 2018 study by the National Institutes of Health examined whether Uber could be associated with fewer alcohol-involved crashes in cities where it launched, ceased, and then resumed operations between 2013 and 2016. The study found a 61.8 percent reduction in the alcohol-involved crash rate after Uber’s resumption in Portland, Oregon.
Another study using monthly data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System was published in a July 2018 research brief from the Cato Institute. The study found a 0.8 percent decline in drunk driving offenses for each additional month Uber was available and a 1.6 percent decline in the overall fatal crash rate for each additional quarter Uber was available.
Contact a Seattle Ride-Share Accidents Attorney Today
Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved killed in a ride-share crash in Seattle? Make sure that you quickly contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Caffee Law is dedicated to helping people recover all of the damages they are entitled, and we can make sure that ride-share companies do not evade their responsibility to you. Out lawyer can review your case when you call (206) 312-0954 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.