Hiring a Lawyer for Rideshare Accidents in Columbia
Our Columbia Rideshare Accident Lawyer at the Strom Law Firm are familiar with litigating South Carolina personal injury cases. They can often help victims recover substantially more compensation than they would be able to retain on their own, so it is highly advisable for anyone injured in an accident to discuss their options with one of our Columbia Rideshare Accident Lawyer.
Imagine that you use your smartphone to order rideshare off of an app for a safe, convenient ride home after a fun night. As you head closer to your house, your rideshare driver is involved in an accident and you sustain injuries. What do you do? Calling an experienced and skilled lawyer helps make sure you receive fair compensation for your medical bills, pain, and suffering, and lost income. If you or someone you love has been involved in a rideshare accident, contact Pete Strom today at (803) 252-4800 or complete the online form. The Columbia car accident lawyers at Strom Law Firm will happily work with you to fight for the recovery of compensation for your injuries.
Usual Injuries in Rideshare Accidents
The primary difference between a rideshare accident and a regular accident is that your driver is working on behalf of a rideshare company when the accident happens. The injuries you sustain as a passenger in rideshare can include:
- Internal bleeding
- Strained muscles
- Broken and fractured bones
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Organ damage
This harm may be minor or severe, but it is imperative to seek medical attention immediately after a rideshare accident. Seeing a doctor as soon as possible is the best way to determine if you suffered any significant injuries in the accident, and the visit will begin the necessary documentation of your medical complaints.
Liability in Columbia Rideshare Company Accidents
South Carolina is a fault-based system for dealing with any car accidents. This means that the person at fault for the accident is responsible for compensating others for damages and injuries their mistake causes. Many times, either the rideshare driver or a driver of another car or truck is considered the responsible party. If the rideshare driver is determined to be at fault for an accident, you may attempt to seek compensation under the rideshare company’s insurance policy regardless if its Uber or Lyft. Contacting an experienced Columbia rideshare accident lawyer is the best way to figure out who may be responsible to pay for the injuries and determine the different policies available for compensation.
Types of Compensation An Injured Person May Recover
Many factors will contribute to the amount of compensation you can receive. Some of these factors include the circumstances surrounding the accident, the type and severity of the injuries you suffered, and who is deemed at fault for the accident. In an accident that involves a rideshare driver, there are various expenses for which you may be compensated:
- Current medical bills
- Potential future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages and income
- Permanent disability as a result of the accident
Contacting an experienced attorney in rideshare accident claims can assist you in obtaining the fair compensation for your full medical expenses.
Tactics Undertaken by Rideshare Companies and Their Drivers To Avoid Liability
If a rideshare driver is involved in an accident that caused you injuries, it is important to determine if you are entitled to compensation for those injuries. Insurance companies will almost certainly attempt to settle the claim for as little as they can to limit their losses. Two of their common strategies are relaying a low settlement offer or disputing the fault of the accident:
Contacting you early after the accident with a low settlement offer. When insurance companies review a car accident claim, they will always offer a low offer early on in the claim process. They will do this at a time where you are stressed and vulnerable from the impact the accident has caused you. This is the time to contact an attorney to discuss the incident before accepting or signing any paperwork.
Denying fault and blaming somebody else. Often, insurance companies will claim that they are at not fault for the accident. Rideshare companies’ insurance providers will likely claim that somebody else was responsible for it instead of the rideshare driver. These can prove to be very difficult claims and can impact your ability to recover compensation.
Cost of a Columbia Rideshare Accident Lawyer
After an accident, many expenses will come your way. You may find yourself worrying about medical expenses, lost income, rental car fees, and additional expenses related to your injuries. You may even be concerned about an attorney costing more than the medical expenses.
Pete Strom and the Strom Law Firm provides free initial consultations to analyze the details of your case and any potential paths for financial recovery. Most cases are taken on a contingency fee, where you will not pay any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your injuries. These fees will be paid from the settlement amount, so will never be owed upfront by you. This allows you to proceed through your medical treatment and return to your life without worrying over the details or paying upfront for your representation.
Typical Mistakes of Injured Parties Filing Rideshare Accident Claims
You can file a rideshare accident claim for yourself; however, many become frustrated with how difficult the process can be. As with other accident claims, it is easy to make a mistake when filing rideshare accident claims, while going through the process without an experienced attorney. The size and capabilities of rideshare companies make bringing a claim alone that much more difficult. Contact an experienced Columbia Rideshare Accident Lawyer.
Persuaded Into Admitting Your Own Fault
Accident victims typically discover that insurance claims are complicated, and insurance companies are tricky. The insurance company will often act as if they are your friend by showing compassion, sincerity, and empathy toward your injuries and suffering. At some point, it will become apparent that they are trying to pay you the least amount they can get away with. To do this, the agents ask questions that could deceive you into admitting fault. They will also ask you to give a recorded statement that may later be used against you in mediations or proceedings.
Waiting to Seek Medical Treatment
One thing that insurance companies look for is whether you seek immediate medical attention. This does not mean you need to go to the hospital in an EMS directly after an accident, rather you should go to the doctor as soon as reasonably possible and address your medical situation if emergency treatment is unnecessary. Failing to seek out a medical professional to look at your injuries could end up costing you credibility with the insurance company. They will believe that, since you did not receive immediate care, your injuries may not be as severe or serious as you’ve asserted.
Sharing Details on Social Media About Your Accident
Social media has become a huge asset in all kinds of cases, mainly for insurance companies. Many accident victims fail to realize that what they post in social media will likely come back to bite them and affect their claim. Insurance companies will review social media sites and posts by riders in an effort to see if there is any information to collect that may potentially hurt a person’s claim. You do not want to put any information about a rideshare accident on social media and always ensure that your privacy settings are set to be sure that you know who can see your posts.
Columbia Ridesharing FAQs
If you suffered injuries in a ridesharing accident, you would do the same things as you would if you were in an accident in your own vehicle: Check on others involved, call first responders, obtain contact information from those involved, obtain contact information from witnesses, and take photos of the accident. Since you were most likely a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle, don’t forget to get the contact information and insurance information from your driver.
You have one more step: Be sure to report the accident via the ridesharing app to the rideshare company.
As with other accidents, contact your insurance company and that of the other drivers involved in the accident to report that you were in an accident. Give the insurance company your name, the date, time, and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information.
You should always contact an attorney with experience in settling and litigating rideshare accidents. The Columbia ridesharing attorneys at Strom Law Firm have the experience needed in settling and litigating rideshare wrecks, including dealing with the rideshare company’s insurance company.
Does the Columbia rideshare company’s insurance cover my injuries?
This depends on the rideshare company and whether the driver meets the requirements of coverage from the rideshare company’s insurance. Uber has a $1 million commercial insurance policy that covers driver liability from acceptance of the trip through the end of the trip. Lyft offers drivers liability insurance and contingent insurance policies. However, if the rideshare company’s insurance does not cover your injuries, you might recover compensation from the driver’s personal insurance or your own insurance policy.
If a rideshare company treats its drivers as contractors and not employees, you might not have the ability to recover damages from the rideshare company unless you can show that it was negligent in allowing the driver to drive for it. You would have to prove that the rideshare company hired the driver, knowing that the driver’s behavior behind the wheel was often negligent.
Can I sue my Columbia rideshare driver’s personal vehicle insurance?
Yes, you can sue your rideshare driver’s insurance company. You can also file a claim with your own insurance company. It will ask for reimbursement from the rideshare driver’s insurance company.
Can I sue the Columbia rideshare driver directly?
Yes, if the insurance is not enough to cover your damages, or if the rideshare driver doesn’t have insurance.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit for my Columbia rideshare injuries?
South Carolina’s statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is three years after the date of the accident. Don’t think that you can wait this long to file the lawsuit. If you decide to attempt settling or if your case needs an investigator, that three years goes by fast.
It is best to contact a rideshare accident lawyer immediately after the accident, even if you are still in the hospital. You are more likely to remember everything that happened right after the accident. If you wait weeks or months, you could forget pertinent facts that would benefit your case.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit if I lost a loved one in a Columbia rideshare accident?
South Carolina’s statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is three years. However, the cause of action does not start until your loved one’s death. If a loved one suffered catastrophic injuries but did not die from those injuries until three months after, then you have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.
What if a Columbia rideshare driver is off the clock?
If the rideshare driver is not on the clock—that is, he or she is not available to give rides but is riding around, the rideshare company’s insurance does not cover the driver. If a driver is not on the clock and wrecks into your vehicle, you’ll have to sue the driver’s personal insurance.
Different rideshare companies have different rules for insurance coverage. Some will pay up to a limited amount if a driver is available to give rides but is between rides. And some will pay up to the full amount of the available policy (for example, $1 million for Uber) if the driver is in an accident and has a rider in the vehicle.
Can I sue a Columbia rideshare driver even if I’m not a passenger?
Yes. A rideshare driver might hit your vehicle or could hit you as you were walking down the street. If the rideshare driver was off the clock, you would most likely have to collect damages from the driver’s personal insurance. If the driver was giving someone a ride or was between rides, you might recover damages from the rideshare company.
How do I know if a Columbia ridesharing driver was on the clock?
There’s no way to be sure. During the investigation of the incident, your attorney will ask for that information. There is also a chance that your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf against the rideshare company and the driver.
Why do I need an attorney for a Columbia rideshare accident?
The rideshare company and the insurance companies involved will do all they can to deny your claim or offer you a pittance settlement.
The rideshare company will try to deny that the driver was on the clock, even if the driver was on the clock, since it does not want any responsibility for the accident. During the investigative phase of your case, your attorney will ask for evidence of the driver’s status. The rideshare company could pull other stunts, since a claim will increase the cost of its insurance, and/or the rideshare company might have to come out of pocket for damages, depending on the size of the claim.
The insurance companies, whether yours, the driver’s, or the rideshare company’s, will look for reasons to deny your claim. If they can’t come up with a reason, they’ll find a reason to offer you a pittance. Thus, never speak with insurance companies other than to give them your contact information, the date and location of the wreck, and your attorney’s contact information. Better yet, let us handle those communications for you.
The insurance companies will ask you questions in an attempt to get you to say something. Even if you believe the rideshare driver was 100 percent at fault, continue referring the insurance companies to your attorney. They have been known to twist what you say to benefit them. Even your own insurance company will do that. Every claim they pay decreases their bottom lines, and they will work to prevent that, since they are in business to make money.
What should I do after a Columbia rideshare accident?
If you are physically able to move without causing yourself more injury:
- Check on other drivers.
- Call first responders.
- Obtain the contact information, insurance information, and registration information for all drivers involved in the accident.
- Obtain contact information for any witnesses, including passengers in other vehicles. If you were in your vehicle and were hit by a rideshare driver, be sure to obtain the rideshare passenger’s contact information as one of your witnesses.
- Allow the medical personnel on-site to check you out.
- Find out how to get a copy of your police report.
- Notify all insurance companies involved, including the driver’s personal insurance and the rideshare company’s insurance (or the rideshare company itself), of the accident.
- Seek medical attention immediately, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Open wounds could become infected, causing more damage. Some injuries might manifest hours or even a day or two after the accident.
- Contact your rideshare accident attorney.
What injuries I could suffer in a Columbia rideshare accident?
The types of injuries you could suffer depend on many factors, including the speed of the vehicles when they hit, where they hit, and what type of vehicles were involved. If your rideshare driver tangles with a tractor trailer, the risk of more severe injury is higher than if the driver tangles with a subcompact car.
Injuries may include:
- Bumps, bruises, scratches, and cuts.
- Road rash.
- Strains and sprains.
- Pulled muscles, torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Face and eye injuries.
You could also suffer secondary injuries, such as infections, especially if you have an underlying condition such as diabetes or an immunodeficiency disease, or if you are on medications that destroy your white counts, such as chemotherapy.
What damages can I recover after a Columbia rideshare accident?
After an accident, you can recover economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic and non-economic damages are compensatory damages that the court awards in an attempt to make you whole again. The court orders punitive damages as a punishment against the defendant.
Economic damages. Special damages, or economic damages, are those that have a monetary value.
- Past medical expenses for those incurred because of the ridesharing accident and before a settlement or trial award.
- Future medical expenses for those incurred because of the ridesharing accident and after a settlement or trial award. These might include additional surgeries, follow-up appointments, cognitive therapy appointments, physical therapy appointments, and psychological therapy appointments.
- Past lost wages for the time you were not able to work because of accident injuries up until a settlement or trial award.
- Future lost wages for the time you expect to be out of work because of accident injuries after a settlement or trial award. Future lost wages could include partial future lost wages if you can return to work but at a lower earning capacity because your injuries resulted in long-term or permanent disabilities.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses.
Non-economic damages. The court usually orders the defendant to pay non-economic damages if doctors expect your injuries to cause long-term or permanent disabilities, or if you lost a loved one in a rideshare accident. Different insurance companies have different definitions for “long-term,” but the Social Security Administration defines a long-term disability as one that doctors expect to last longer than a year or to result in your death.
Non-economic damages do not have a monetary value and include:
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a hand.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight.
- Excessive scarring.
- Inconvenience, if you have to hire someone to do your regular chores, such as house cleaning, grocery shopping, or lawn maintenance.
Punitive damages. South Carolina allows you to request punitive damages. However, you can only collect punitive damages if:
- The court awards compensatory damages, and
- You can prove that the defendant’s actions were “willful, wanton, or reckless.”
When you ask for punitive damages, the trial is bifurcated. In the first part, the jury determines whether you should receive economic and non-economic damages. If not, then you cannot collect punitive damages.
If the jury finds that you should recover compensatory damages, then the court hears a second trial with the same jury to determine if the defendant’s actions were willful, wanton, or reckless. You must have clear and convincing proof that the defendant’s actions were willful, wanton, or reckless.
Consult an Experienced Attorney in Columbia
If you or someone you know has been injured in a rideshare accident or other ride-share accident, call our Columbia accident attorneys immediately at (803) 252-45800 and schedule a free consultation. One of the experienced attorneys at the Strom Law Firm will be happy to work closely with you or your loved one to examine the issues of fault and decide what next steps are needed to obtain compensation for your claim.
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