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1) Who is responsible in an Uber or Lyft collision?
If the Uber or Lyft driver is at-fault for causing the collision, then it stands to reason that the driver is responsible for the collision. In some circumstances, Uber and Lyft may also be held responsible as well.
In Georgia, it is an unsettled question of law of whether Uber and Lyft are employers of their drivers. The way the facts develop in each case may allow responsibility to extend to Uber and Lyft.
2) Are Uber and Lyft taxi services?
Uber and Lyft do not qualify as taxi services in Georgia, so they are not required to follow the complex regulations and statutes designed for the taxi company industry.
Instead, Uber and Lyft are considered “rideshare service providers” that must register with the Department of Transportation under O.C.G.A. 40-1-193.
3) Can Uber or Lyft be sued for a car accident?
Uber and Lyft can be sued after a car accident, but they may not remain a party.
Uber and Lyft can be sued under several theories of negligence, but they routinely deny that they can be held vicarious liable under an employer-employee theory.
Each company invests significant time and money to fight anything that suggests they are more than a technology service, rather than a transportation service.
Injured Uber and Lyft passengers have a harder time combatting this narrative because to be a passenger, you must have agreed to Uber and Lyft’s Terms of Service. These expressly state that they are not employers.
Injured innocent bystanders, such as other driver and pedestrians, may be more successful.
4) Are Uber and Lyft drivers considered “employees?”
There’s no question that Uber and Lyft do not want their drivers to be considered employees. That’s because it can impose on the companies certain duties and responsibilities. It would also expose the companies to increased liability.
The question of whether Georgia driver for Uber and Lyft can be considered employees has not reached a consensus in the courts yet. It is a fact-driven question of law, so the circumstances of each case can establish an employer-employee relationship.
5) How do Uber and Lyft classify their drivers?
Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as independent contractors. They make this argument by claiming that:
they do not train their drivers,
they do not control their driver’s vehicles,
they do not maintain their vehicles,
they do not maintain a work schedule (and can’t order a driver to drive),
they do not control the routes,
they don’t provide workers compensation or other benefits,
they pay their drivers as independent contractors on a 1099.
6) How do you prove Uber or Lyft was negligent and contributed to you injuries?
Holding Uber or Lyft accountable can be tough, but it can be done if they contributed to your injuries.
This can usually be done by showing they were negligent in hiring, training, retaining, and/or supervising their drivers.
Alternatively, this can be done by showing they should have warned their passengers that a driver was unsafe or unfit to drive.
Factors that weigh in favor of Uber and Lyft’s accountability can include:
They often fail to complete a thorough background check;
They often fail to complete a thorough driver history check;
They track driver’s geolocation data and driving habits via their mobile sensor data;
They control the driver’s routes via their GPS and navigation software;
They hold their driver’s out to be employees through their append through vehicle signs (i.e. Lyft Amp);
They expect drivers to follow their various policies;
They handle passenger complaints regarding drivers;
They handle all transactions of money between drivers and passengers;
They target advertisements through their platforms;
They offer transportation promotions that the drivers are expected to fulfill;
Lyft provides local hubs for vehicle maintenance, training, and support;
Drivers can only operate exclusively through Uber and Lyft’s apps and platforms;
They do not allow drivers to view or see a prospective rider’s final destination until the driver accepts the ride request; and
Other circumstances each case may show.
These issues will almost always be decided by a judge responding to a motion for summary judgment.
7) How do Uber and Lyft screen their drivers?
Theoretically, Uber and Lyft screen their drivers for a safe driving record and serious criminal charges, but this screening is often done through a third-party service provider. Meaning, it’s imperfect and not always thorough.
8) How can Uber and Lyft be held responsible for the negligence of its drivers?
Uber and Lyft can be held responsible if it can be shown that the drivers qualified as an “employee” of the respective company.
Alternatively, if the driver was unqualified to be a driver or posed a foreseeable risk of causing injury, Uber and Lyft should not connect passengers to the driver and may be held responsible.
9) What is a rideshare network service?
Georgia defines a rideshare network service as any person or entity that uses a digital or internet network (i.e. telephone apps) to connect passengers to drivers for transportation.
This definition is used for purposes of certifying rideshare network service providers, such as Uber and Lyft, in the state of Georgia.
10) What statutes may apply to hold Uber or Lyft responsible for a collision?
Some Georgia statutes that may apply to a given case to prove responsibility include
O.C.G.A. 51-1-12 (Ratification of Torts);
O.C.G.A. 10-6-52 (Ratification of Agents);
O.C.G.A. 51-2-4 (Liability for Employees);
O.C.G.A. 51-2-5 (Liability for Negligence of Contractor);
Alternatively, Uber and Lyft can be held responsible under traditional theories of negligence, including failure to warn passengers of an unsafe driver, entrusting unsafe drivers to transport passengers, failing to monitor driver complaints and driving patterns, and similar concepts.
11) Are Uber and Lyft required to provide insurance coverage for its drivers?
12) Do Uber and Lyft provide insurance for drivers that are not logged in to the app?
Uber and Lyft are not required to provide any insurance coverage for drivers that are not logged in to the app at the time of the collision.
For instance, a driver may be “off the clock” and headed home even though their vehicle still displays the Uber or Lyft logo. Uber and Lyft’s insurance would not apply to any collisions that occur during these periods.
13) Do Uber and Lyft provider insurance drivers that have not accepted a ride request?
Uber and Lyft are only required to provide limited insurance coverage for drivers who are logged in to their respective apps but have not accepted a ride request yet.
Currently, this insurance is $50,000 per person injured and $100,000 per collision. They are also required to provide $50,000 in property damage coverage.
Predictably, much of a driver’s time is spent waiting on nearby ride requests.
14) Do Uber and Lyft provide insurance for drivers that in route to pick up a passenger?
Uber and Lyft are required to provide insurance coverage for drivers that are in route to pick up a passenger.
For both companies, the insurance coverage provided is $1 million. This requirement is for both liability coverage as well as uninsured/underinsured coverage.
This coverage also extends while the driver is transporting the passenger to their location.
15) What are statutes and regulations may apply to rideshare drivers and companies like Uber and Lyft?
Some statutes and regulations that may apply to your Uber and Lyft case may include:
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 570-38-6-.10 (Records Required);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 570-38-6-.11 (Digital ID For Drivers);
Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 570-38-6-.12 (Display of Emblems by Ride Share Drivers);
O.C.G.A. § 40-1-193 (Ride Share Network Services);
O.C.G.A. § 33-1-24 (Transportation Network Companies).