Arbitrating cases for Uber/Lyft drivers for injuries they sustained while driving
Last year, about 93 million people used Uber’s rideshare service every month, and nearly just as many people used their competitor, Lyft. This means that millions of people each day are at risk of being injured in rideshare accidents. However, rideshare passengers are not the only ones who can suffer serious injuries in crashes, as rideshare drivers are also themselves at risk of sustaining serious and costly injuries.
Uber and Lyft drivers are not traditional employees, so they are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance, which provides most people benefits for on-the-job injuries. So, what happens if what you expected to be another shift on the road turns into a crash and hospital visit?
Never trust that the rideshare company you work for will simply cover your injuries and losses. In fact, getting the compensation you need can be much more difficult than you might imagine. In many cases, this process might involve arbitration, which is a type of alternative dispute resolution. It is critical that you seek help from an experienced Uber and Lyft injury lawyer who can represent you and defend your rights throughout this process.
Seeking compensation from Uber or Lyft
Both Uber and Lyft have insurance coverage for drivers, although it is only applicable under limited circumstances. Your coverage depends on your status when the accident occurred and who caused the accident. For example, if another driver was liable for causing the accident, their insurance company should cover your losses. However, what happens if you are hit by an uninsured driver, or you were to blame for the accident? In these case, the following generally applies:
- If you were offline, your own insurance coverage would apply.
- If you were online and waiting for a ride request, your own insurance would apply, with limited supplemental coverage from Uber or Lyft available, if needed.
- If you accepted a ride or had an active passenger, Uber or Lyft’s insurance policy covers you.
While you might be able to prove that you were on the clock for Uber or Lyft when the accident happened, receiving the payment you need from the company’s insurance policy is another matter. This can be challenging. Insurance companies try to limit payouts as much as possible. If you are in this situation, you will want to have an experienced injury lawyer on your side who knows how to negotiate with insurance companies and get the full settlement you deserve for your:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Future losses
- Other non-economic losses
In some cases, the insurer will simply refuse to make a fair settlement offer. In this case, your attorney would need to escalate your case to seek the full value of your claim. Keep in mind, however, that rideshare drivers cannot just file a lawsuit against Uber or Lyft like you might in another type of car accident case. This is because of the arbitration agreement included in your driver contract.
Arbitrating your claim with Uber or Lyft
When you sign up to drive for Uber or Lyft, you sign a complicated legal contract. One term in these contracts is a mandatory arbitration agreement, which requires you to resolve legal disputes through arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit in civil court. While this might seem like an easier process, there are challenges and pitfalls involved with arbitration. You certainly want the right legal representation throughout this process.
How does arbitration work?
Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution method that works to keep legal disputes out of court. This can save the involved parties time and money, but it can also present a number of challenges.
Arbitration is a privately held process overseen by an arbitrator or—in some cases—a panel of three arbitrators. Each disputing party makes their arguments and presents evidence, and the presiding arbitrator makes a decision on how the dispute will be resolved. This process is commonly compared to a civil trial, although it is more informal.
Possible pitfalls of arbitration
While a quicker, less costly, and more informal process might seem preferable for resolving your dispute with Uber or Lyft, keep in mind that there are drawbacks to arbitration. These can include:
- There is no requirement to adhere to federal or state rules for evidence presentation or civil procedure, which means the other party (in this case, the rideshare company) might present damaging evidence that would not usually be allowed in a courtroom trial.
- It can be an uneven playing field between a large corporation and an individual driver dealing with injuries, and Uber or Lyft can also select a non-objective arbitrator.
- It can be very difficult to appeal or overturn a binding arbitration decision. If the arbitrator unfairly finds against you, the decision might be final.
Because of the challenges involved with arbitration, it is essential that you have your own attorney representing you during arbitration. You can be certain that Uber or Lyft will have a legal team trying to avoid paying for your injuries, so you want your own, advocating for the compensation you deserve after your rideshare crash and injuries.