Rideshare accidents bring up difficult questions of insurance coverage, fault, and legal responsibility. Unfortunately, injured victims of a rideshare accident often find themselves in the middle of a legal mess as well as dealing with their physical injuries and emotional trauma. Many states, including Delaware, have introduced new laws to try to clarify the law and protect injured victims. If you have been injured in a rideshare accident, it is important to get legal advice to ensure that your legal rights and entitlements are protected.
What are the first things to do after a rideshare accident?
If you are injured in a rideshare accident, it is important to take the following steps: seek medical attention, report the accident, gather evidence, and call an attorney.
- Seek Medical Attention
Seeking medical attention should be your first priority after a rideshare accident. Call 911 if you or anyone else injured in the accident needs an ambulance. Even if you think your injuries are minor, it is important to see a medical professional. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but can still cause long-term damage or aggravate existing conditions. Your healthcare provider’s report of your injuries will also be important evidence in your insurance claim or legal case.
- Report the Accident
You should report the accident to the police immediately, and to the rideshare company promptly. If you have called 911 for an ambulance, that will also summon the police to the scene of the accident. The police should be called in any event. The police report of the accident is crucial evidence. It will typically detail relevant information such as the weather and road conditions, the vehicles and drivers involved, witness details, and sometimes who is at fault in the accident. Also, any statement you make to the police can be recorded so if you are one of the involved drivers, it is important that you do not admit any fault in the accident before getting legal advice. The less you say the better - even saying “sorry” could later be twisted by another party or their attorney as admitting fault.
- Gather Evidence
Be sure to get contact information for the other drivers and any witnesses and insurance details from drivers. Also, take photos and videos at the scene of the accident. This will all be important evidence if you need to file a claim. Your cellphone is a useful way to record evidence at the scene including names and phone numbers, videos, and even documents such as an insurance card or driver’s license by simply taking a photograph.
- Call a Rideshare Accident Attorney
Finally, you should call an experienced rideshare accident attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options, negotiate with the insurance companies and other parties on your behalf, and advocate for the maximum compensation that you are entitled to after a rideshare accident.
Why do you need a lawyer after a rideshare accident?
Being involved in a car accident is always a traumatic experience, but it can be even more confusing and complicated if you were injured while using a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft. Because of the unique nature of these services, the number of people involved, and the specific laws that come into play following a rideshare accident, a rideshare claim can be practically and legally complex.
The drivers, passengers, rideshare companies, and each of their insurers all have an interest in who is liable in the accident. Rideshare companies and insurance companies also have significant resources and lawyers who will be working to reduce their legal responsibility and financial liability in your claim.
An injured victim who tries to handle a case without a lawyer on their side is at a significant disadvantage, and typically ends up receiving less compensation.
As a result, it is in your best interest to seek legal help as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney can navigate the complex legal landscape and help you get the compensation you deserve. Moreover, they can take on the burden of dealing with insurance companies and investigating the accident, allowing you to focus on your healing and recovery.
How to choose an attorney when you are injured in a rideshare accident
If you have been injured in a rideshare accident, you will need an attorney who has experience handling rideshare accident claims in your state. The law in this area is young and changing, and many states, including Delaware, have recently introduced brand new laws specific to rideshare companies. You should get a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of these laws so that they can properly advise and represent you.
Most lawyers, including the rideshare accident attorneys at Morris James, will offer you a free initial consultation. This will give you a chance to get to know the lawyer and ask any questions that you may have about your case. You can also ask about their fees policies and their success rate. You should feel comfortable with the lawyer that you choose because you will be working closely with them during your case. After this initial consultation, you can walk away without any obligation or you can decide that this is the right lawyer for you.
What to expect from your attorney during the legal process
When you hire an attorney after a rideshare accident, they are there to help you, advise you, and fight for you, but you are still ultimately in charge of your claim. Your attorney cannot agree to a final settlement of your claim without your approval. Some of the things that you can expect from your attorney during the legal process are: advice and advocacy, communication, working the case, and transparency about fees.
- Advice and Advocacy
First and foremost, your attorney’s role is to advise you on your legal rights and fight for everything to which you are entitled. They should explain the laws relevant to your case in a way that you can understand, guide you to a decision, then put forward the best possible case for you in negotiations or in court.
Your attorney should communicate with you about your claim, keeping you updated on the status of your case and returning your phone calls or emails in a timely manner.
- Working the Case
Your attorney will also handle all of the details surrounding your case so that you do not have to. This includes filing claims within the legal deadline, handling important correspondence, and communicating with the other parties to the claim.
- Fee Transparency
It is also important that your attorney be open about their rates and fee policies. You should know how much you will be charged and what services are included in that fee. If you are unclear about their fees, just ask.
How much compensation should you get after a rideshare accident?
After a rideshare accident, you may pursue benefits and compensation from the insurance policy of the rideshare driver, the rideshare company, or another at-fault driver. The level of insurance coverage and who is responsible will depend on the circumstances of the accident. For example, in Delaware, the minimum insurance coverage is different depending on whether the rideshare driver was driving to pick up a passenger or already had the passenger in the vehicle. Even in a seemingly straightforward insurance claim, it is a good idea to get an attorney’s advice to make sure that you are receiving all of the compensation that you are entitled to.
If a driver is uninsured or underinsured, or if all of your losses are not covered by insurance for another reason, you may want to pursue a legal claim for compensation. No one can guarantee how much compensation you could receive in a rideshare accident claim because each case is unique. Lawyers are ethically forbidden from guaranteeing a dollar amount of compensation to clients. However, there are certain types of damages that are typically awarded in personal injury cases, and lawyers are allowed to advise you on the levels of compensation that have been awarded in other similar cases.
Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Damages for medical expenses and lost income can include both past and future amounts. Pain and suffering damages are intended to compensate you for the physical and emotional anguish caused by your injuries. These damages are all relevant in a legal claim whether it ends in a negotiated settlement, as do the majority of personal injury cases, or in a trial. An attorney can advise you on the types of compensation that are relevant in your individual case, and your options going forward.
If you have been injured in a rideshare accident, it is important to seek legal help to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. At Morris James, our attorneys have been standing up for personal injury victims for over three decades. If you have other questions about rideshare accidents, contact us online or call us at 302.655.2599 to learn more.