The accomplished personal injury law firm of Miller & Tischler, P.C. has helped victims of car accidents throughout Michigan since before ridesharing became a popular form of transportation. Our team is dedicated to protecting your rights if you have been seriously injured in a ridesharing accident. We have sharp skills when it comes to negotiation and litigation, and a track record of success. Though we can be aggressive when necessary with insurance adjusters and opposing attorneys, you can count on us to be compassionate and supportive with you.
Why Is a Ridesharing Accident More Common than Other Traffic Accidents
There are several reasons that rideshare drivers may have more accidents than the average driver, including:
- They are minimally vetted for the position and not specially trained
- They tend to work long hours (even more than the permitted 12 hours daily) to earn more money and so may be dangerously sleepy or exhausted while driving and more likely to eat, drink, or text because they spend so much time on the road
- They are likely to be distracted by the app that keeps them in play and the GPS that helps them navigate to previously unknown locations
- They may be impaired by substances they take to keep them awake during their long hours of driving
Also, rideshare drivers are more likely to get into accidents simply because they cover so many miles daily, very often on urban, congested roads.
How Ridesharing Accidents Differ from Other Traffic Accidents
Since ridesharing has become an available alternative to taxis and public transportation, it has been widely used throughout the country, though the pandemic has made both passengers and drivers less comfortable about being in a car with a stranger. As more individuals use ridesharing services, it is likely that there will be an increasing number of ridesharing accidents.
What distinguishes ridesharing accidents from other car collisions is the complexity of liability. The good news: Michigan law requires rideshare drivers–or the transportation network companies (i.e., Uber, Lyft, etc.) on the driver’s behalf–to maintain 1 million dollars in liability coverage for rideshare passengers. The bad news: Michigan law helps prevent transportation network companies from being sued. MCL 257.2137 essentially destroys any vicarious liability based on employment theories by holding that the rideshare driver is an independent contractor (not an employee) if certain conditions are met. Because transportation network companies want to limit their liability, they will do everything they can to make sure they meet the delineated conditions. While legal theories based on the rideshare driver being an employee are pretty much foreclosed, the attorneys at Miller & Tischler have pursued other legal theories to avoid the employment limitation in Michigan law.
Because of the somewhat ambiguous nature of the connection between the rideshare driver and the transportation network company, it is especially important for you to have attorneys who’ve had experience with rideshare accidents handle your case.
Michigan Is a No-Fault State
In Michigan, all car accident claims are processed under our state’s no-fault insurance system. This means that we, as your attorneys, will file a claim with the responsible insurance company, regardless of which driver was at fault. Generally, that insurer will be your own insurance company. This “first-party” claim will provide you with PIP (personal injury protection) benefits, which include certain economic costs such as:
- Medical expenses (including emergency care, nursing and/or rehabilitative care, and medical transportation)
- Funeral/burial expenses in the event of death
- Work loss
- Household replacement services
As you may know from previous experience, insurance companies do not make money by paying out claims. Therefore, it may be a bit of a struggle to obtain all of the money you are entitled to. This is precisely why it is essential to have knowledgeable attorneys in your corner. At Miller & Tischler, we will take over all insurance negotiations while you concentrate on resting and recovering from your ordeal.
If your insurance company is particularly unreasonable, our team will take them to court. They may well back down if we threaten litigation. We have a well-earned reputation as strong attorneys both in and out of the courtroom.
What about your pain and suffering damages in a ridesharing accident?
As noted, insurance claims for no-fault PIP benefits will provide you with economic damages. But what about your intangible losses? Fortunately, Michigan’s no-fault law allows accident victims to seek non-economic compensation for pain and suffering and other intangible losses (including loss of consortium). You may also seek certain economic losses in excess of what is covered by your PIP benefits. This is known as a “third-party” claim.
In order for a third-party claim to be valid, however, the accident must have caused at least one of three “threshold” injuries:
- Permanent and serious disfigurement (bad scarring, deformity, amputation)
- Serious impairment of a bodily function (e.g. Impaired mobility, paralysis, loss of vision, loss of cognitive ability, loss of hearing, loss of an organ)
If your injuries meet one (or more) of these thresholds, we will be able to pursue a third-party claim against the at-fault driver. As stated above, we may also be able to pursue the transportation network company on non-employment related legal theories. which may be the other driver and/or the rideshare company.
The Rideshare Company Has Its Own Insurance
One of the things that makes rideshare accidents confusing is that different rules apply depending on the circumstances of the accident. Again, Michigan law requires that drivers be insured for up to 1 million dollars in liability coverage (acquired by the driver or by the transportation network on the driver’s behalf). However, depending on the specifics of your case, you may not be able to access the full 1 million dollars in coverage.
If, for example, the driver is a rideshare driver during certain hours, but is not giving a ride at the time of the accident, the transportation network company bears no responsibility and a claim cannot be filed with its insurance company. If the driver is connected to the App of the transportation network company and available for a ride request, the rideshare company has thousands of dollars worth of insurance to cover injuries. The 1 million dollars in liability coverage may only be accessed if the rideshare driver is actually in the process of picking up or delivering a rideshare passenger.
If you are involved in a ridesharing accident in Michigan, it is important to know that you will only be able to make a third-party claim if you are 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. This is because Michigan follows the rule of comparative negligence. Having our smart rideshare accident attorneys at your side can make all the difference in proving the other party’s negligence.
Contact Our Michigan Ridesharing Accident Attorney Today
If you or a family member has been injured in a rideshare accident, you need the legal assistance of Miller & Tischler. We have dealt with rideshare accidents since the beginning and are familiar with the ins and outs of the no-fault law in Michigan. We are adept at examining police reports and medical data, interviewing witnesses, consulting with experts in related fields, and, most of all, in navigating the justice system to get you a positive outcome. Contact us today to give yourself the best possible chance of winning your case.