Legal Responsibility in Ridesharing Crash Claims

In 2010, just before the Uber/Lyft explosion, traffic fatalities were at a sixty-year low. Ridesharing has reversed this trend, and traffic fatalities are now approaching an all-time high. High-speed ridesharing collisions often cause very serious injuries, such as head injuries, severe broken bones, and back injuries.

From a legal standpoint, these claims are rather complex. To obtain fair compensation for victims, a Kansas City personal injury attorney must first establish driver negligence. Then, an attorney must hold Uber, Lyft, or the other ridesharing company responsible for the wreck. That’s the best way for victims to obtain maximum compensation, and the only way to convince these large companies to put safety before profits.

First Party Liability

Driver impairment causes about half of the motor vehicle collisions in Missouri. Some common kinds of impairment include:

  • Substance Abuse: Alcohol and drugs, including some over-the-counter drugs, impair motor skills and cloud judgement ability. These effects usually begin with the first puff, sip, or pill.
  • Fatigue: Drowsiness has the same effect on the body and brain as the aforementioned substances. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for Missouri commercial drivers.
  • Distraction: Especially in the coronavirus age, many ridesharing operators are in unfamiliar territory. So, they drive with one eye on the road and one eye on a GPS navigation device.

Commercial operators have a higher duty of care in Missouri, so it is easier to establish negligence, or a lack of care, due to driver impairment.

Operational errors, mostly speeding and changing lanes unsafely, causes most of the rest of the vehicle collisions in the Show Me State. Since the law establishes the standard of care in these situations, there is no need to independently establish negligence. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate safety laws and cause crashes could be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Third Party Liability

Generally, personal auto insurance policies do not cover business-related losses. Most ridesharing companies require their drivers to buy commercial riders, but many operators do not do so or only buy the absolute minimum. As a result, many Lyft and Uber drivers are either uninsured or dangerously underinsured.

The respondeat superior doctrine usually comes into play in these situations. Ridesharing companies are financially responsible for car crash damages if the driver was an employee working in the scope of employment at the time of the crash.

State law defines these key terms in broad, victim-friendly ways. For example, even if the driver was an independent contractor for tax purposes, drivers are usually employees for negligence purposes.

Typically, ridesharing companies are financially responsible for ridesharing crash damages. For a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer in Kansas City, contact the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.

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