Yes, if you’ve been involved in a car accident while riding in a lyft or an uber you may be able to sue the rideshare company.  For your lawsuit to be successful against Uber or Lyft, you will have to show that they had a duty to you, that they breached (violated) that duty, that you were injured as a result of the breach and that the injury was foreseeable, and that you have damages. Many times, however, even if you’ve been in an accident that was the fault of a rideshare company, or the independent drivers contracted to work for them, you may be able to recover financially without needing to file a lawsuit.

                WHAT HAD TO HAPPEN IN ORDER TO WIN A LAWSUIT AGAINST UBER?

                Most of the time, injuries as a result of a car accident are unintentional. The person who was at fault for causing an injury did not mean for the injury to happen, or for an accident to happen at all. These situations were the result of someone’s negligence. In California, you can sue another person or company whose negligence harmed you. These are negligent causes of action.

                In order to win a negligence cause of action, you will have to prove that the defendant (the driver) had a duty to you, that the driver breached that duty (didn’t act as they should have), that the breach caused you to be injured (you were hurt because of the driver’s failure), that the type of injury you sustained was foreseeable (someone would think that your injury could happen when they think about the breach happening), and that as a result you sustained damages (lost work, medical bills, pain and suffering, property was damaged).

                DOES AN UBER DRIVER HAVE A DUTY TO A RIDESHARE PASSENGER?

                In a personal injury action against a rideshare company, your first step in a successful negligence lawsuit is establishing that the defendant had a duty. What is a duty? According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, “A legal duty is an obligation, created by law or contract.” Having a duty means that you have to act a certain way. If you’ve entered into a contract that imposes a duty, you’ve explicitly agreed to act a certain way. But the law has also imposed duties on all people under the law’s jurisdiction. That is to say, if you live in California, the laws of California require you to act in certain ways.

                For example, everyone in California has a duty to use ordinary care or skill in the management of their self or their property. If you breach that duty and cause injury to another person, you will be responsible for that injury. This duty is set out in California Civil Code Division 3, Part 3, Obligations Imposed by Law, Civ Code section 1714(a).

                The Uber or Lyft driver, at minimum, has a duty to use ordinary care and skill when driving their car.

                HOW DO I SHOW THAT UBER BREACHED THEIR DUTY AND IT CAUSED ME INJURIES?

                You will have to present facts, or evidence, that will convince the judge or jury that Uber or Lyft breached their duty and caused your injuries. Sometimes a driver will admit that they were not looking at the road or they took their hands off the wheel. You could likely use this admission to argue that the driver breached their duty of ordinary care, because an ordinary driver would keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. In order to show you were injured, you can present medical records for treatment of your injuries. You can also present photographs of your injuries.

                The important thing to remember here is that as the injured party, you must convince the judge or jury that the facts show that there was a breach which caused you injuries. Breach and causation are different from duty, because duty is a legal question and breach/causation are questions of fact. In showing these elements you cannot point to a law, you will have to use the evidence you have to convince the jury.

                WHAT ARE DAMAGES AND HOW DO I PROVE THEM?

Damages is a term referring to the harm that you suffered as a result of an injury. The purpose of awarding damages is to restore you to the status quo. They are to put you in the same position you were in previous to the incident. The jury is supposed to award just and reasonable compensation for the harm done due to the defendant’s tortious conduct. Damages are almost always awarded by a monetary value that the Defendant is required to pay. The types of damages recoverable fall under economic and non-economic damages.

                               Economic Damages

Economic damages include anything which has a quantifiable economic value. This includes loss of income, medical expenses, property damage, loss of future income, cost of assistance, and so on. The list of economic damages is not listed. As long as it could be shown that the expense would or will be incurred because of the harm, that it was foreseeable prior to the incident, and the defendant was the cause of it occurring, then it is generally recoverable.

                                Non-economic damages

Non-economic damages are meant to compensate personal injury victims for intangible harms resulting from injury. These damages place an economic value on the pain and suffering that one incurred as a result of the injury they suffered. The harms here can be wide-ranging. A personal injury victim should seek recovery not only for the pain incurred as a result of the injury, but the inconvenience of the process. A number can be placed on the loss of joy one is able to experience because of the injury. Where a person’s quality of life has decreased an experienced attorney should seek monetary damages to compensate for the loss.

How Haffner &Morgan Can Help

If you been in an auto accident involving Uber or Lyft the attorneys at Haffner & Morgan can help you in both your financial and physical recovery. Consultations are available at no cost to you, and no fees are taken unless you obtain a settlement or positive jury verdict. Our first step is always to make sure you are getting the treatment you want and need.

The information provided in this blog is not meant to be legal advice. It is provided as an informative guide only.  If you have any questions regarding a personal injury, contact a lawyer today. The attorneys at Haffner & Morgan offer no cost consultations and are happy to answer any questions you may have.