Ride-shares have become an increasingly popular method of transportation. They’re convenient and fairly affordable, especially if you opt to share your ride with another passenger. Most rides are uneventful, but car accidents during rideshares do happen and consequences can be impactful so it’s best to be prepared.
Whether it’s a fender bender or a more serious accident, Viivi M. Vanderslice, a personal injury lawyer at Bernard Law Group, emphasizes the importance of remaining at the scene and gathering as much information as possible. While the accident itself may have happened in the blink of an eye, the potential effects – physical, emotional, financial – could linger for years. Taking immediate action to report and document what you see is critical.
If none of the drivers involved call the police, Vanderslice recommends that you report the incident so authorities can come to the scene and objectively document what happened and gather statements from you, the drivers, and any witnesses who are willing to stick around to help out.
While you wait for authorities to arrive, use your phone to take photos of anything that could be helpful. Vanderslice says this includes pictures of the scene, the traffic conditions, and all vehicles involved. If you’re up for it, she also recommends asking any witnesses if they’re willing to provide their names and phone numbers so they can be contacted to provide statements if necessary. “Most witnesses have already left by the time the police arrive,” Vanderslice says. “They usually assess injury and don’t stick around.”
While you’re taking photos, make sure to get pictures of the license plates of every car involved. “Write down the rideshare driver’s info,” she advises. “If there’s information in their car, take a photo of it.” The more information you have about your driver, the better. Vanderslice currently has a case that involves a dispute over who was actually driving the rideshare vehicle. “It was a real problem when there was a criminal investigation involved and police could not identify who the driver was,” she says. “The company wasn’t responsive and photo lineups are hard.” In addition to always photographing the license plates, Vanderslice says to also take a photo of all involved drivers.
It’s also important to know your rights if you were injured in the accident. You may feel fine in the minutes and hours following the crash and then find yourself unable to get out of bed the next morning. “It’s always hard to know in a moment of high adrenaline if you’ve been injured,” Vanderslice explains. For this reason, she says it’s important to not sign any paperwork or reach an agreement with an insurance company until you’ve undergone a medical exam and know the extent of your injuries.
Speaking of medical treatment, you may be wondering how to handle the insurance aspect. If the rideshare driver is on the clock and at fault, the rideshare company’s insurance will ultimately be responsible. You should also check with your personal auto insurance to see if you have coverage to pay for your medical treatment upfront as not all rideshare companies offer this type of coverage (med pay or personal injury protection.)
Once again, Vanderslice emphasizes the importance of knowing the extent of your injuries before reaching a settlement with an insurance company. “It’s always really important to not settle your case until you have good information about your injuries,” Vanderslice says, noting that it’s common for people to think they’re fine and will be back on their feet within a few weeks only to find that their recovery period will be much longer. She recommends not discussing a settlement until you’ve been discharged from treatment and given a clean bill of health.
There are also a few things you definitely don’t want to do if you’ve been in an accident in a rideshare vehicle. For example, don’t sign any paperwork from an insurance company or the rideshare company without carefully reviewing it and talking to someone else about it (two sets of eyes are always better than one). We’re often understandably flustered right after an accident and eager to help resolve the matter, and this is exactly why it’s not the right time to sign any paperwork that could potentially cause problems for you in the future, particularly when it comes to resolving medical bills.
Be careful when giving recorded statements, and definitely avoid social media posts about the accident and any injuries you sustained. “People present an image on social media that has little to do with real life,” Vanderslice says. For example, posting a photo of yourself smiling in your hospital bed makes light of a serious incident and could easily be misconstrued.
Accidents are, by definition, unpredictable and when they do happen it can be a shock. If it does happen to you, the aftermath will be much smoother if you know exactly what to do and what to avoid.
Bernard Law Group has been helping victims in Seattle and surrounding areas for over 30 years. Thousands of people have trusted us to handle their personal injury cases and we have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients.