Who Is Legally Liable in a Rideshare Accident in Texas?
The legal landscape surrounding ridesharing accidents in Texas is complex and confusing. But one thing is clear: anyone injured in an accident as a passenger in a rideshare car in Texas will likely assume that he or she can sue both the driver and the ride-sharing company (such as Lyft, Uber, or another). This is because the little-known fact is that rideshare companies claim that the drivers are not their employees and therefore cannot be sued for negligence. And in Texas, the law says that the driver is not considered an employee of the company.
In effect, the rideshare company will argue that the driver was not its "employee," but rather an independent contractor. If the company wins this argument, then it will not be liable for the driver's negligence. And in Texas courts, the company will often prevail over the plaintiff.Who Is the Claim against?
Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are becoming increasingly popular. However, it is important to remember that the drivers themselves are contractors rather than employees, meaning that while you might see them driving around town, they are technically self-employed individuals. This means that if there is a crash caused by negligence, the person responsible is the driver, not the rideshare company. If you're injured in such a situation, you could make a claim against both parties.
The first thing to do is file a report with the police department involved. You'll want to collect information about the incident including what happened, how it occurred, and whether anyone else was injured. Next, contact your personal injury attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, that help you determine whether a claim can be filed against the driver and/or the rideshare company.Arbitration or Lawsuit? It Depends
When someone uses a rideshare app to request a ride, there are usually several steps involved. First, the rider requests a ride through the app and agrees to pay the fare. Then, the passenger enters into a contract with the rideshare company. Finally, the passenger gets into the car and travels to the destination.
In many cases, riders do not know what they are agreeing to when they sign up for a rideshare app. For example, some apps allow passengers to enter into arbitration agreements without knowing about it. Riders might not realize that they are forfeiting their right to sue the rideshare company or the driver for injuries sustained while traveling.
But does that mean they aren't bound by the arbitration clause? Not necessarily.What if Another Driver Is at Fault?
If you are injured in a crash while riding in a rideshare car, it’s important to know what happens next. In many cases, the ride-hailing app itself will pay for medical expenses. But how do you handle the case where another party is responsible for the accident?
There are three possible scenarios:
- A rideshare driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- An intoxicated passenger is seated in the front seat; or
- Someone else is negligent, such as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
In each scenario, the person who is injured is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and/or the rideshare company. However, it’s critical to understand that the liability lies with the driver of the car, not the driver of the rideshare app. This means that if the crash is not the driver’s fault, he or she is not liable for injuries sustained in the collision.
The same goes for passengers who are intoxicated. Even though the driver is liable for injuries suffered by his or her guests, the passenger cannot hold the driver legally responsible for damages unless the passenger proves that the driver knew or should have known about the intoxication and failed to take action to prevent the harm.
To help drivers and passengers navigate the legal system, we recommend taking advantage of a free consultation offered by our office. We offer one-on-one consultations with experienced attorneys to discuss whether you have grounds for a civil suit, and to answer questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit.What Should You Do if Injured in a Crash Involving a Rideshare Vehicle or any Other Vehicle?
The short answer is this: immediately call a personal injury attorney who regularly handles these types of cases.
Immediately contacting a lawyer who routinely deals with such cases can make all the difference between receiving compensation for your injuries and having nothing. If you don’t act quickly, it could be too late.
In addition to being able to recover damages for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and even loss of consortium, victims of negligent drivers often receive additional compensation for legal fees incurred during the case. This is because there are many different ways in which negligence can lead to harm. For example, a driver could fail to yield the right of way, causing a crash; he could cause a car accident while texting behind the wheel; he could run a red light and hit another car; he could cross over into another lane without signaling, or he could cut off another motorist.