Victims who get hurt by someone else's conduct deserve to be compensated. Expecting victims to pay for the costs of their own losses when they did not cause them would be like rubbing salt in the wound.
While insurance exists to cover those costs, there are times when filing a personal injury lawsuit is the only way for a victim to get the compensation they deserve. These situations where a victim has to fight for compensation occur all too frequently when ridesharing is involved, largely because of the insurance complications that arise from this novel mode of transportation.
The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at The Brod Law Firm explain.
Your Compensatory Damages after a Ridesharing Incident
The primary goal of Pennsylvania's personal injury law is to make the victim whole once again – or at least as close as possible. Unfortunately, the law cannot turn back time. Without such a superpower, Pennsylvania's personal injury law has to settle with providing the victim financial compensation – paid for by the wrongdoer or the negligent person who caused the victim's injuries – that covers all of the victim's losses.
These are compensatory damages. They reflect the total loss that the victim has endured because of someone else's conduct, stated in a dollar amount.
Compensatory damages go far beyond just your medical expenses. Instead, they include:
- Past medical expenses associated with your injuries
- Reasonably foreseeable medical expenses in the future
- Wages lost while you recover
- Other professional setbacks that you suffered during your recovery, like lost business opportunities
- Any reduced ability to earn an income in the future that stems from your injuries
- Property damage from the incident, like the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle that was damaged or destroyed
- Compensation for the loss of your use of your damaged or destroyed property
- Costs of modifying your home, if it needs to be altered to accommodate your injuries
- Compensation for your physical pain
- Compensation for your mental suffering, anguish, and loss of life's enjoyments
- Compensation for your family's loss of consortium and companionship that your injuries have caused.
For example, imagine a touted college baseball player who has just been drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies. He hails an Uber and then suffers serious injuries to his throwing shoulder in a crash caused by his driver. His compensatory damages from the crash would include his past and future medical expenses, plus the projected income that his professional baseball career likely would have garnered, plus the physical pain and mental anguish he has gone through, as he watches his professional baseball career taken from him.
Insurance Can Provide Compensatory Damages in Ridesharing Accidents
In a typical car accident between normal drivers, the car insurance companies that get implicated would pay the compensatory damages of the crash based on who was at fault.
In ridesharing situations, insurance coverage becomes hazy. Whether the ridesharing driver was “on the clock” or not can drastically alter how much – and even whether – there is an insurance company to cover the incident.
Insurance During a Rideshare Trip
When the ridesharing driver is transporting a passenger, then the ridesharing company's insurance coverage is supposed to cover any accidental injuries that happen. Both Uber and Lyft claim that this insurance coverage is extensive and can cover up to a million dollars of losses from a crash.
This is good news for the passenger in a ridesharing vehicle. They can benefit from this extensive coverage from the time they get in the car until the second they get out of it. Even better, ridesharing companies strive to show that they treat their customers right, so they have a business incentive to flex their muscles and cover all of a passenger's losses.
It can also be good news for innocent bystanders who get hit by a ridesharing driver while the driver is ferrying a passenger. In these cases, the ridesharing company's insurance policy is supposed to extend to these victims as well. However, ridesharing companies are far more likely to be as stingy as possible with the financial help they provide to people who were not their customers.
So, if a ridesharing driver hits a pedestrian when the driver veers down a side road to avoid traffic and reach a destination, the fact that there is a passenger in the vehicle would trigger the ridesharing company's insurance coverage. Even if both the passenger and the pedestrian are seriously hurt – the passenger requiring $20,000 in compensatory damages to be made whole while the pedestrian requires $450,000 – the extent of the ridesharing company's deep pockets should mean they both get covered. The pedestrian, though, might have to fight harder to ensure he or she gets what's deserved.
Ridesharing Insurance Coverage When There Is No Passenger
Insurance becomes murky when a ridesharing vehicle does not have a passenger inside but is still in “drive mode” and looking for a passenger to pick up. Different ridesharing companies handle this situation differently. Most provide far less than a million dollars in coverage, and many only provide coverage that triggers if the ridesharing driver's personal insurance fails to cover the damage caused by the crash.
Insurance Coverage When a Ridesharing Driver Assaults a Passenger
In cases where a ridesharing driver assaults, sexually assaults, or rapes a passenger, whatever car insurance policy could have been implicated will almost certainly vanish: insurers rarely cover intentional or criminal conduct. Victims of, for example, sexual assault can file a personal injury lawsuit or make an insurance claim, but they are likely to see their claim denied and their lawsuit pressed against a ridesharing driver who is “judgment proof” and unable to pay a verdict out of their own pocket.
Implicating the ridesharing company in these cases is essential.
Ridesharing Injuries and the Lawyers at The Brod Law Office
The personal injury lawyers at The Brod Law Office in Philadelphia strive to legally represent ridesharing victims both inside the courtroom and outside of it. Contact us online or call our law office at 855-BRODLAW for the legal help you need to get the compensatory damages you deserve.