North Carolina Wrongful Death Rideshare Accident Lawyer

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An over-the-shoulder shot of a rideshare driver with his app on next to his dashboard.Ridesharing is becoming an increasingly popular way to travel. The ease of obtaining a ride through a few taps in an app on a cell phone and being able to see the price without having to worry about a meter running has made rideshare a very convenient option.

The most popular options available in North Carolina are through Uber or Lyft, but there are others as well, such as Carmel or Curb, which is actually a traditional Taxi service that functions through the Curb app.

The popularity of ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, has put many taxi companies out of business. People like being able to see how much they will be charged and how long they have to wait before agreeing to the ride, whereas taxi services were often unreliable as finding a taxi could prove difficult, and the price was calculated using a meter installed in the car.

Before the advent of ride-sharing, there were many arguments over whether or not the meter was working correctly, if the driver was taking the best route for the passenger, or if they were simply trying to increase the cost of the trip.

Modern ride-sharing services have revolutionized the way people hire cars for transportation. The ability to use a mobile device to not only enlist the services of the driver but also to pay for the ride up front has benefited both the passengers and the drivers.

The need for cash has been taken out of the equation. Passengers no longer have to be concerned about whether they have enough money to complete their trips, and drivers no longer have to carry cash and worry about getting robbed.

The downside to the increase in rideshare drivers is that more vehicles also means more car accidents. Depending on the level of rideshare options that passengers choose, the driver does not have to be a professional driver to work for Uber or Lyft.

According to Uber, they simply need a valid driver’s license to pass a background check, have access to a vehicle with valid insurance, and be over a certain age.

The more expensive options, such as Uber Black SUVs, do have more requirements, such as a chauffeur’s license, specific vehicle types, and commercial car insurance. However, the majority of rideshare drivers do not qualify for this option.

Just as passengers access rideshare services through an app, the drivers do as well. Some drivers work the rideshare as their only job, while others use it to supplement their income. This means that your driver may have worked a long shift at another job and is now driving you through rush hour traffic.

What Type of Compensation Can a North Carolina Wrongful Death Rideshare Accident Attorney Get for Victims?

Rideshare accidents are unique and complex because of the analysis involved to determine which insurance company pays for the victim’s damages and exactly how much the victim can collect. Uber, for example, is not actually defined as a car service or a transportation company.

The company has defined itself as a technology provider, meaning it provides the app to both the driver and the passenger. This terminology may allow the company to avoid liability for the accident and to place blame on the drivers.

Uber does have insurance that is mostly used secondary to the driver’s personal insurance coverage, and it only applies when a driver is actively driving passengers through their service. The problem with this approach to insurance coverage is that North Carolina’s standard personal automobile policies exclude liability coverage whenever the policyholder uses their vehicle to transport passengers for a fee.

This means that Uber drivers are not covered by their own insurance policy while they are driving for Uber. The large insurance policies that Uber and Lyft carry are what cover the driver while they are actively transporting passengers and causing an accident.

The insurance policy that Uber carries has a very high limit. Therefore, the company protects itself from large payouts by employing skilled and experienced claims adjusters to deny and avoid claims from victims.

Having a highly skilled and experienced wrongful death rideshare accident attorney on your side will make sure that your claim is not ignored or minimized. With the addition of a large rideshare company to your lawsuit instead of solely suing the driver for damages, the value of your case is enhanced.

If your claim goes to trial, jurors may be hesitant to award a large verdict against a single person, but they are often generous when a large corporation is a defendant. They know the large company makes a profit from the driver’s work and that the large corporation can afford to pay for the victim’s damages.

What Have the Large Rideshare Companies Done to Make Their Services Safer?

Aside from the standard requirements of all drivers on the roads, such as wearing a seatbelt and not consuming drugs or alcohol prior to or while driving, the large rideshare companies are also attempting to limit driver fatigue. Uber, for example, does this by disabling the app for 6 hours after 12 hours of driving.

The dangers of driving while drowsy are often compared to driving drunk because of the similar effects on the body. Reaction times are slower, decision-making skills are impaired, and the ability to recognize dangerous situations is reduced in both circumstances.

Drowsy drivers are also at risk of nodding off while driving and driving into other vehicles, objects, or off the road entirely. So, it makes sense that companies are concerned about their drivers becoming tired while driving, but their methods are not perfect.

Disabling the app after 12 hours of driving does not prevent the driver from switching to another app, for example, switching from Uber to Lyft. Also, there is no way to ensure that the driver is actually resting during the 6 hours of downtime.

Furthermore, the 12 hours of driving does not include the time drivers spend waiting for their next ride or any breaks that they take. Needless to say, drowsy driving still causes rideshare accidents.

The majority of drivers employed by rideshare companies have not had any training on how to transport passengers safely. The cars the drivers use are not required to undergo any inspection or testing aside from submitting pictures of the vehicle.

Why Are Rideshare Drivers More Distracted Than Other Drivers?

Rideshare drivers are often distracted by navigation instructions as well as the passengers that they are transporting. The drivers may or may not be familiar with the area in which they are driving, but passengers can select any unique address for where they want to be picked up and dropped off, so the drivers are always finding themselves in unfamiliar locations.

These factors lead to an elevated risk of a rideshare driver getting into an accident.

The passengers themselves often pose a significant distraction for the driver, with many passengers using a rideshare service after consuming alcohol. Their actions may be considered unpredictable, erratic, or even violent.

Some intoxicated passengers become nauseous and vomit in the vehicle or out the window. Even sober passengers can distract drivers with conversations, questions, or any other actions or comments that make the driver uncomfortable or pull their attention from the road.

What Is Contributory Negligence in North Carolina?

North Carolina is one of the few states that enforces a contributory negligence law. Under this law, victims who are even only slightly at fault for causing the accident that caused their injuries or death are ineligible to seek financial compensation for their damages.

The defense will often use this to their advantage as the victim only has to be found one percent guilty for the large company to be able to avoid payment, so these companies search for ways to place any blame onto the victim.

Who Is Liable When a Rideshare Driver Causes an Accident?

When a car accident is caused by a rideshare driver, the correct insurance company that is liable to pay for the victim’s damages on the driver’s behalf is difficult to identify and contact. The police report for the accident will list the driver’s personal car insurance; however, a rideshare driver’s personal vehicle insurance does not apply when the driver has a paying passenger in the vehicle.

North Carolina car insurance policies do not include liability coverage anytime the driver is transporting passengers or cargo for a fee. This is why rideshare drivers are not covered by their personal car insurance when they have passengers in their vehicle.

Large rideshare companies operate internationally, so they have multiple insurance companies. They also change their insurance carriers occasionally, so it is difficult to know which one to contact in the event of an accident.

This is another area where a wrongful death rideshare accident attorney is helpful, as they will take care of the necessary communications for you.

Your rideshare accident attorney will determine which insurance company to contact to pay for your injuries and property damage claims or for the wrongful death of your family member if the worst-case scenario has occurred. The attorney will investigate the accident to establish the duty status of the driver in order to determine the correct insurance company.

When rideshare drivers are on duty, they are logged into the rideshare company’s app and either pick up transport or drop off a passenger. These are the times when the rideshare company’s insurance policy is responsible for any accidents caused by the driver.

If the accident occurred while the driver was off duty or did not have a paying passenger in the vehicle, the driver’s personal car insurance company will pay for the victim’s damages according to the policy. There may be other factors to consider, but the insurance typically works depending on whether or not the driver had a paying passenger in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

The amount of insurance coverage also varies depending on the duty level of the driver. For example, when an Uber driver is signed into the rideshare app and is ready and waiting to receive a job but has not yet received, accepted, or begun the rideshare journey, the liability insurance is limited to $50,000 per person injured.

The severity of the injuries will not affect this amount, which is quite low considering how expensive catastrophic injuries can be. In these circumstances where the insurance policy is not enough to cover all damages received, your rideshare accident attorney will look for other options, such as other drivers or parties that may share fault for the accident.

Additional benefits may be available through multiple underinsured policies.

Rideshare drivers who have accepted a trip and are on their way to pick up a paying passenger and drivers already transporting their passengers have liability insurance coverage with a limit of $1,000,000 to pay for personal injury claims.

Aggressive insurance adjusters are assigned to cases that involve serious injuries, wrongful deaths, and high coverage limits in order to protect the insurance company. The insurance companies are businesses, and they do have to protect their own interests in order to operate, but you should still receive the compensation that you are legally entitled to for your legitimate damages.

While the insurance adjusters are working to minimize your claim payments, your experienced rideshare accident lawyer will be working even harder to protect your rights and increase the value of your claims. Your lawyer will investigate the circumstances of the accident, collect all possible evidence, present a solid case, and negotiate a fair settlement that covers the full value of your claims for damages.

All the paperwork and filings of claims will be taken care of by your attorney so you can focus on your recovery or on taking care of your family if you have to file on behalf of a loved one who was killed in a wrongful death.

What Happens If I am the Driver or a Passenger in a Rideshare Vehicle Accident?

When passengers in a rideshare vehicle are injured in an accident, the company’s insurance policy will pay for their injury claims up to $1,000,000.

If the rideshare driver was injured and did not cause the accident, they have the right to file injury claims with the rideshare company’s insurance company’s underinsured motorist coverage with a $1,000,000 limit on top of the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident.

The passengers in the rideshare vehicle also have the ability to file for damages that go beyond the other driver’s insurance policy with the same underinsured motorist coverage. In cases where the rideshare driver did cause the accident, the paying passengers have insurance coverage up to $1,000,000 through the rideshare company for damages such as:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Earnings
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Ongoing Medical Care
  • Wrongful Death
  • Property Damage

In cases that involve a wrongful death from a rideshare accident, the victim’s family is able to file claims for damages the victim would have been able to file for had they survived, as well as for the loss of their loved one. These damages may include the following:

  • Funeral Expenses
  • Transportation Of the Deceased
  • Burial or Cremation Expenses
  • Medical Bills For the Deceased As a Result of the Accident
  • Lost Wages the Victim Would Have Earned Had They Lived
  • Pain and Suffering of the Deceased
  • A Reasonable Value For Non-Economic Damages

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

North Carolina has a statute of limitations in place for wrongful death claims. Under North Carolina’s General Statutes § 1-53(4), wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of death of the victim.

However, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed if the claim surpasses the amount of time allowed by another statute of limitations if the deceased had survived. For example, if your family member survived for several months after the initial incident that caused their injury, the claim for damages would fall under the statute of limitations for a personal injury.

According to the personal injury statute of limitations, you would have three years from the date of the injury to file a claim for compensation. If you do not file within those three years, you will be ineligible from seeking any compensation for damages, even if you file within two years of your family member’s death.

Contact a North Carolina Wrongful Death Rideshare Accident Law Firm to Investigate Your Collision

The rideshare accident attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters take care of discovering and proving the driver’s duty status, and we report your claims to the appropriate insurance companies on your behalf.

It seems simple, but it can be a challenging process as insurance companies will try to pass the responsibility onto anyone else, and solid proof of the exact status of the driver is required.

We will begin investigating all the details of the accident as soon as you involve us in your case. Call (800) LAW-0804 today.

There is no risk to you as we offer free consultations and do not ask for any legal fees until you receive the settlement you agree to or after you receive a favorable verdict in court.

Rideshare accident attorneys help victims in North Carolina prove their innocence and provide evidence that the rideshare driver was at fault for the accident. They know how to overcome the large company’s use of contributory negligence as a defense.

The rideshare accident attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson specialize in collecting and investigating evidence from the scene of the crash, building a strong case that proves true fault and liability, and overcoming the contributory negligence defense.

We offer free consultations and will not charge you anything until you receive a settlement payment or a favorable verdict. We take care of all the communications and negotiations with the rideshare companies and the insurance companies involved to make sure that your best interests are upheld and that you are not mistreated in any way.