Kissimmee Uber Accident Lawyer
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Ride-sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft (also known as technology-based service companies), revolutionizes the way people get around in Kissimmee and other major cities in Florida. For passengers, an Uber or Lyft ride is more affordable, convenient, and accessible, and for rideshare drivers, Uber and Lyft offer a convenient, flexible, and easy way to earn a decent income. However, due to the lack of stringent requirements to become a rideshare driver (no required certification or driving test), rideshare companies allow for negligent drivers to transport passengers, increasing the likelihood of accidents, injuries, and resulting lawsuits.
Florida doesn’t keep statistics for accidents involving ride-sharing services, but the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reported more than 400,000 crashes in 2017 alone, with around 3,000 of those involving fatalities. According to Uber’s reporting, there were 49 Uber-related deaths nationwide in 2017. That number increased to 58 in 2018. This data doesn’t include fatalities occurring when Uber drivers are in-between rides or traveling from one location to another to pick up new passengers. Most Uber deaths involve a crash with another vehicle, and a third of Uber-related fatalities consist of a collision between a rideshare driver and a pedestrian or cyclist.
Based on these concerns, lawmakers have had to adjust federal and state laws and regulations to adapt to the unique nature of ride-sharing services. Florida passed ride-sharing laws in 2017 to protect riders using Uber and Lyft services in the Sunshine State. The state law, known as the Uber/Lyft Bill or HB 221, provides uniform statewide mandates for ride-sharing services, including background checks and insurance requirements.
Florida ride-sharing requirements now include:
- Drivers must be at least 21.
- Drivers must have one year of driving experience.
- State law requires ride-sharing drivers to be covered by insurance when their ride-sharing app is activated.
- Drivers must pass background criminal and driving record checks every three years.
Additionally, drivers cannot provide services for a ride-sharing company in Florida:
- If listed on a sex offender registry
- Without a valid driver’s license or vehicle registration
- If convicted of driving with a revoked or suspended license in the past three years
- If convicted of a serious driving offense like DUI in the past five years
In addition to Florida’s laws, Uber and Lyft have their own restrictions and requirements for drivers to keep riders safe.
Florida law insurance policy changes for ride-sharing drivers require them to carry additional liability coverage on top of the Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP) already needed. This $1 million liability coverage provided by ride-sharing companies covers personal injury, property damage, and death. In addition, professional drivers must also carry at least $50,000 of physical injury and death liability insurance.
If you suffered injuries in a ride-sharing accident, you should contact an accident lawyer to evaluate your case and offer legal advice about how you can hold the responsible party or parties liable for your damages, including costly medical bills. A car accident attorney can inform you about your legal rights and whether you can file a legal claim or lawsuit after your Uber or Lyft accident. The Kissimmee Uber and Lyft accident lawyers at Ward Law have years of experience and can fight for the financial compensation you deserve to aid in your recovery.
How common are Uber accidents in Kissimmee, Florida?
In the US, millions of rideshare drivers pick up passengers each day. As part of the greater Orlando area, Kissimmee is a significant tourist destination, making ride-sharing companies in high demand. People fly into Orlando to visit popular attractions like Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios and take Ubers and Lyfts from one location to the next.
When planning a trip to Kissimmee, visitors to the area can not only expect to spend some time with Mickey Mouse and his other Disney pals, including a myriad of well-known princesses, but they can also enjoy Everglades-style tours on airboats viewing manatees and other native wildlife, private helicopter tours over the city, a trek through Cypress Forest via kayak, celestial-inspired sightseeing at Kennedy Space Center, and some much-coveted rest and relaxation on the pristine Gulf shores of Clearwater Beach. With so much to see and such a vast area and entanglement of central Florida traffic to maneuver through, ride-sharing is a tourist’s natural go-to for getting from one place to another with relative ease.
Navigating major Kissimmee roads like the Florida Turnpike, Interstate 4, Osceola Parkway, Toll 417, US 192, SR 535, and Kissimmee-Vineland Road is easier for someone familiar with the area. Things get even trickier as drivers connect to important routes that weave throughout the greater Orlando area, including US 17/92, US 441 joining Orange Blossom Trail (OBT), and the John Young Parkway.
Unfortunately, even with seemingly region-experienced drivers at the wheel, accidents happen. With the use of Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services increasing annually, so are accidents involving rideshare drivers, especially in Florida. In March 2020, an Uber driver slammed into a parked semi-truck on US 17. The Uber passenger died from his injuries, and the Uber driver faced drunk driving charges resulting in the rider’s untimely death. The Uber driver picked up the passenger in Orlando and drove towards Haines City, just south of Kissimmee, when the accident occurred.
As a privately-owned company, Lyft doesn’t release records of accident statistics to the public because it can damage their reputation. However, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) conducts its own annual research due to increased traffic accident deaths following the influx of Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services.
In 2019, the Osceola News-Gazette reported that traffic-related deaths in Osceola County doubled from 2016 to 2019, not based on definitive statistics but data analysis from 2010 to 2019. Researchers hypothesize a positive correlation between the introduction and increased use of ride-sharing services and increased traffic collisions, motor vehicle accidents, and related deaths.
Accidents involving rideshare drivers fall under a few different categories, and the amount of insurance coverage depends on the appropriate category (see more below). First, if an Uber or Lyft driver is driving off the clock, it’s likely you can only sue the rideshare driver and their personal insurance company. The rideshare company would likely not share liability because the driver wasn’t driving on the company’s behalf at the time of the accident.
Also, your claim depends on whether you were an Uber or Lyft passenger when the accident happened or if you were an occupant in a separate vehicle involved in an accident with a rideshare driver.
Common Causes of Uber Accidents
According to a study by the University of Chicago and Rice University, launching ride-sharing in cities contributes to a 2-3% increase in fatal car accidents. The time that rideshare drivers spend on the roadways between rides increases road congestion, and the increased volume of cars on the road contributes to a higher likelihood of collisions. The most common contributing factors to Uber and Lyft car accidents include:
- Distracted driving: Rideshare drivers constantly check their phones for upcoming bookings and notifications on the rideshare websites, inevitably taking their eyes off the road. Drivers can also get distracted by engaging with their clients, such as following directions and keeping rideshare passengers entertained to earn higher daily ratings.
- Poor driving: Poor driving practices include speeding, unsafe lane changes, and running stop signs and red lights.
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of narcotics: Rideshare drivers who drive under the influence of alcohol and other substances, including prescription narcotics and other medications, can struggle to stay awake or react appropriately and responsibly to road and weather conditions. Different substances can impair a driver’s judgment and slow response times.
- Driver fatigue: Drivers often stay on the roadways for long hours each day (the fee-per-ride pay structure pushes drivers to squeeze in as many rides as possible). Some drivers also drive during peak hours in the early morning or late at night to maximize their profits. Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors who make their own schedules and sometimes drive for several rideshare companies, increasing driver fatigue resulting in accidents. There’s limited oversight from the rideshare companies to regulate contractor hours and mandate breaks.
- Poor vehicle maintenance: When rideshare drivers do not care for their Uber or Lyft vehicle properly, it can lead to operational and maintenance-related safety issues, including brake failures, airbag failures, tire blowouts, and steering problems.
- Tailgating: Driving too close to other vehicles is the number one cause of most rear-end collisions in the US.
- Inexperienced driving: Some rideshare drivers have minimal driving experience before deciding to transport passengers for Uber or Lyft, placing themselves and their riders at risk—particularly in busy high-traffic areas, such as Kissimmee, Orlando, Miami, Winter Park, and West Palm Beach.
Uber Accident Injuries
You should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after a rideshare accident, even if you don’t feel injured. Uber and Lyft accidents can lead to minor or more severe or permanent injuries, including:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head and brain injuries
- Cuts, bruises, and lacerations
- Broken bones and fractures, including hip and lower leg fractures
- Loss of limbs
- Internal bleeding
- Soft tissue damage
- Nerve damage
- Herniated discs
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Uber and Lyft passengers typically ride in the vehicle’s back seat, making rear-end crashes particularly dangerous for rideshare passengers, especially putting them at risk for crush injuries and broken bones. It’s always important to wear your seat belt when riding in an Uber or Lyft. If you’re in an accident, not wearing a seat belt can result in reduced compensation for your injuries.
What steps should I take after an Uber accident to maximize my claim?
The aftermath of any car accident can get complicated fast. It’s even more complex with rideshare accidents because many parties are involved, including the passenger, the rideshare driver, the rideshare company, the rideshare company’s insurance provider, and the driver’s personal insurance company. To protect your best interests, you must contact a law firm experienced with rideshare litigation, such as the Ward Law Group.
Our offices serve all of Florida, including Osceola, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Orange, and Broward counties. One of our trusted team members can provide you with compassionate and effective legal counsel, answering your questions and helping you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages. You can receive compensation to help cover your medical bills, lost wages due to missed work for medical treatment and recovery, and emotional suffering.
If you’re in an Uber or Lyft accident in Kissimmee, you should take immediate actions to protect your legal interests and maximize your potential compensation. After resuming calm and waiting for the shock and adrenaline from the accident to subside, you should take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention: After an accident, you should always seek medical attention. Failing to undergo immediate medical evaluation and treatment can negatively impact the outcome of a potential settlement, especially if you claim serious bodily injuries. Never leave the scene of an accident unless you need emergency medical care. Always try to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident and have them perform a complete physical examination, even if you feel fine. Sometimes, injuries don’t show up for several hours to days after a crash.
- File a police report: Your rideshare driver is responsible for filing a police report, but they might not always do so. If your driver fails to call law enforcement and aid in providing the information needed for a detailed police report, make sure to call 911 and answer their questions to the best of your ability. You’ll need the report to file your insurance claim. Be sure to request a copy of it once it’s available.
- Talk to any witnesses: Write down the names of everyone at the accident scene, including your Uber driver, and collect their insurance information. Get witness statements and contact information from anyone that saw the accident. Statements should include all relevant information about the events leading up to the accident.
- Take pictures: Document everything about the crash and take photographs of the scene, injuries, other vehicles, damages, and any other evidence that can help strengthen your case.
- Contact the rideshare company: Speak with an Uber or Lyft associate to report the accident. Rideshare apps usually have a section on the app designated for reporting accidents. If the other driver was at fault, the rideshare company’s insurance provider might choose to deny payment of your damages, and you would then need to file a claim with the driver’s personal insurance company. When you speak to an Uber or Lyft representative, be careful not to discuss the accident details or who’s at fault. You should simply report the accident, as the rideshare company can use any sensitive information communicated from you to them as evidence during negotiations or an arbitration hearing.
- Hire a Kissimmee personal injury attorney: A personal injury attorney knows your legal rights and can help get you the compensation you deserve after an Uber or Lyft accident. No matter who was at fault, a rideshare accident lawyer can help determine your legal options and potential outcomes so that you can make the best decision for you or your family member.
How are Uber accidents different from other car accidents?
When you use an Uber or Lyft service, you’re a passenger in the rideshare driver’s vehicle. Unless you’re doing something reckless to distract the driver, you’re just a bystander and cannot share fault for an accident.
Also, because Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors, the rideshare companies are not automatically liable for a crash. In regular car and truck accidents, the driver’s employer may share responsibility due to employment status, operating the employer’s vehicle, and acting as a company representative.
Still, many regulations govern ride-sharing apps and their drivers in an effort to protect passengers. For example, certain laws require drivers to maintain a specific amount of liability coverage on their personal insurance policies to cover the costs of an accident resulting in damages to passengers.
Who's liable in an Uber accident?
Different parties can be liable in a rideshare accident depending on the circumstances of the crash, including:
- Uber or Lyft drivers: The rideshare driver assumes liability if they were at fault for the accident, and they are responsible for reporting the incident. Any passengers, pedestrians, or third parties who suffered injuries or damages can make a case to receive compensation from the driver’s personal insurance company or the rideshare company’s insurance policy.
- Other drivers involved in the collision (not the Uber or Lyft driver): If an accident occurs due to another driver’s negligence, that driver is at fault and liable for damages.
Do I have to go to my insurance first after a Uber accident in Kissimmee?
No. Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors, not employees. Therefore, rideshare companies require their drivers to maintain insurance coverage, meaning if you’re in an accident, your Uber or Lyft driver’s insurance company is likely responsible to pay for your injuries and damages.
Florida’s HB 221 requires all rideshare drivers to carry additional liability coverage for injury, property damage, and wrongful death, in addition to their Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP). That additional liability coverage is provided by the rideshare companies, with policies up to $1 million.
Rideshare companies maintain contingent liability insurance coverage, meaning that a claim must first go through your Uber or Lyft driver’s insurance company, and the rideshare company’s insurance will only apply if you receive an initial denial of your claim.
Uber and Lyft drivers’ insurance policies only cover accidents if the rideshare driver’s coverage contains an addendum to the policy called a “rideshare rider.” If your driver has this, and they’re at fault for the accident, you should be able to recover compensation for your injuries and damages via their insurance company. If your driver doesn’t have a rideshare rider, the rideshare company’s insurance will kick in.
The rideshare company’s insurance coverage may differ based on the driver’s status at the time of the accident:
This status starts when a rideshare driver opens the app and notifies Uber or Lyft of their availability to pick up passengers. If you’re involved in a rideshare accident during Period 1, you’re not yet a passenger, so you’ll likely suffer injuries and damages as either a pedestrian or a driver or passenger of another car.
For Period 1, the rideshare company’s insurance will provide coverage for any accident resulting from an Uber or Lyft driver’s negligence or wrongdoing, but only after the driver’s insurance carrier denies your initial claim. The rideshare company’s insurance policy is likely to cover up to $50,000 per person injured, $100,000 total injury liability per accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability.
This status begins when an Uber or Lyft driver and a rider receive a match, and the driver is on their way to pick up the rider. If you’re involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver during Period 2 – when the rideshare driver is on their way to pick up a rider – you’re, again, likely a pedestrian or person in another car.
Rideshare company insurance policies allow for higher coverage in these situations because, by this point, the Uber or Lyft driver is active and officially driving for the rideshare company. For Period 2, Uber or Lyft liability coverage may increase up to $1 million.
This final status starts when the rider is in the driver’s car and ends when the rider gets to their destination, and the Uber or Lyft driver indicates the end of the trip on the rideshare app. If the accident happens during Period 3, you were a rideshare passenger, meaning the accident occurred between the Uber or Lyft driver and someone else.
In this case, the rideshare company provides uninsured motorist coverage if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. Same as Period 2, the liability coverage can be up to $1 million.
How do I file a claim with Uber's insurance provider?
It’s crucial to work with a personal injury lawyer in Kissimmee to help you file a claim against the rideshare company’s insurance carrier as soon as possible after an accident. Your attorney can provide needed legal services, including gathering police reports, medical bills, photographs, witness testimonies, and other evidentiary support to strengthen your claim. They can also draft and complete all necessary legal paperwork and documents to submit your claim and handle any discussions, negotiations, or denials that might follow.
What damages can I recover after an Uber accident in Kissimmee?
If you suffer injuries due to a rideshare accident, you might have the right to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include out-of-pocket costs incurred due to injuries sustained in the accident. These costs can include:
- Rental car costs
- Your car’s diminished value (if you were driving a vehicle in a wreck with an Uber or Lyft vehicle)
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages from missed work due to recovery
- Loss of future income
Often, accident injuries can take a long time to heal, and some of your injuries can be permanent. For this reason, Florida law allows car accident victims to collect non-economic damages or compensation for pain and suffering. For example, if the accident left you with chronic pain, you may be entitled to compensation for your ongoing suffering.
In cases involving particularly reckless conduct or intentional wrongdoing, you may be able to recover punitive damages or an additional form of compensation intended to punish the at-fault party and deter future wrong actions. In addition, when rideshare accidents result in the untimely death of a rider, you or the deceased person’s family members may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the driver causing the accident.
Can I sue Uber if one of their drivers caused an accident?
If you’re a passenger, pedestrian, or another driver involved in an accident with an at-fault rideshare driver, it’s exceedingly difficult to sue the rideshare company for their share of liability since their drivers are independent contractors and not directly employed by Uber or Lyft. Employers are typically legally liable for any damages caused by their employees while they’re on the clock. Uber and Lyft absolve themselves of that liability, though, by employing drivers as independent contractors. Additionally, the rideshare companies and Florida law require each rideshare driver to have their own personal injury insurance protection.
If the driver’s insurance denies your injury claim, you can try to get compensation by filing a claim with the rideshare company’s insurance provider. As a countermeasure to potential lawsuits filed against them for their drivers’ negligence, Uber and Lyft provide up to $1 million of insurance coverage to all passengers and third-party pedestrians injured by their drivers.
In rare instances, depending on the facts of the accident, you may be able to collect damages directly from the rideshare company. For example, if Uber or Lyft hired a contracted driver with a poor driving history or multiple DUIs, you may be able to file a negligence lawsuit against the rideshare company to recover compensation for your damages. You must prove negligence on the part of the rideshare company with solid evidentiary support as explained below.
What evidence do I need to support my Uber accident claim?
A rideshare accident that results in injuries is a negligence claim. To prove negligence or fault by another person in a civil lawsuit, you must show four elements:
- They owed you a duty.
- They breached that duty.
- You suffered injuries as a direct result of that breach.
- You experienced actual harm.
To prove the fault of the Uber or Lyft driver, you may need a car accident reconstruction expert who can research the cause of the accident. You can also refer to the police report for their deduction and any tickets issued. Lastly, you can obtain a driving history detailing previous traffic infractions, accidents, or DUIs.
You need copies of your medical records, doctor’s notes, treatment plans, etc., to document your injuries. It’s imperative to seek medical attention immediately after a car accident so that you can link your injury directly to the source.
The extent of your injuries will affect the amount of compensation you can receive. The more severe and long-term or permanent your injuries, the more likely you will receive a higher payout. Other factors, such as age, overall health before the accident, ability to work, etc., can also affect the amount of compensation you receive as explained below.
How much is my Uber accident claim worth?
A critical decision that can impact your ability to receive fair compensation is your choice of Kissimmee law firm. Even if your case has the potential to yield a high settlement, you can end up getting a significantly lower payout if your attorney isn’t knowledgeable about rideshare accidents or passionate about advocating for their clients.
Every case is unique, and compensation can vary significantly based on the following factors:
- The severity of your physical injuries
- The severity of your emotional suffering
- The severity of property damage
- Current and future medical expenses incurred due to injuries from the accident
- Financial burden suffered
- Type of insurance coverage available
- Punitive damages
How long do I have to file a claim after an Uber or Lyft accident in Kissimmee?
If you’re in an Uber or Lyft accident, you should file a claim as soon as possible. Florida’s statute of limitations governing personal injury claims allows you up to 4 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. There are few exceptions to this rule, such as injuries discovered days or months after an accident or injuries that worsen from the date of the accident.
You should always speak with a Kissimmee car accident lawyer after an Uber or Lyft accident happening in the area to evaluate your claim and determine when to file your lawsuit. You don’t want to miss important deadlines, which can prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve.
Should I accept an early settlement offer from the insurance company after an Uber accident?
Insurance companies are notorious for dragging out negotiations, using loopholes to discredit claims, and offering the lowest settlement amount possible to protect their own interests and bottom line. They essentially act in bad faith in the hopes of exhausting and discouraging claimants so that they accept any lowball settlement offer sent their way.
Our Kissimmee accident attorneys will not yield to such tactics. We use our years of experience negotiating claims to push back against insurance companies and demand fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Do I have to go to court after an Uber accident in Kissimmee?
Most personal injury lawsuits settle out of court, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to go in front of a judge or jury after an Uber or Lyft accident. A Kissimmee personal injury attorney can help negotiate a fair settlement directly with the rideshare driver’s insurance company or the insurance provider for Uber or Lyft.
How can a Kissimmee Uber accident lawyer help me?
If you suffered injuries or damages in an Uber or Lyft accident in Kissimmee or the surrounding Orlando area, an attorney can help you get the compensation you need to aid in your recovery.
After a rideshare accident, dealing with insurance companies can be overwhelming and confusing. Our accident lawyers at Ward Law can advise our clients about liability, insurance claims, needed evidence, and best-case outcomes. We can also advocate for your legal rights when settling your claim with the insurance companies to get you the fair compensation you deserve.
We will accurately calculate your claim’s worth and advise you whether to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company or take your case to court, where it might fare better, promoting your best interests and the most favorable outcome for you and your family.