On August 26th, 2023, three Uber passengers were killed, and one passenger and the driver were seriously injured in a T-bone collision in South Los Angeles. The crash occurred at 5:25 AM near Westmont.
According to reports, the Uber vehicle was not moving, waiting to turn left at the intersection when another car traveling at “noticeably high speed” flew through the intersection and slammed directly into the Uber. The impact caused the vehicle to spin out of control and eject one passenger. The ejected passenger and two others in the wreckage were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver and fourth passenger survived but may have lifelong injuries.
The other vehicle’s driver was identified as a suspect in a murder investigation and was out of jail on probation at the time of the crash. He now faces three charges of gross vehicular manslaughter in addition to his original charges.
While criminal charges are important, they do little to address the losses suffered by those who lost their loved ones. Two of the deceased victims were sisters, and the third was their close friend. In a single moment, one crash has devastated a community and placed the heavy burden of funeral costs and lost support on their families.
That’s what insurance is supposed to accomplish. However, insurance claims involving Uber and other rideshare companies are notoriously complicated. So are wrongful death claims. Below, we discuss how liability works during rideshare wrongful death and personal injury claims and how to begin a case if you’ve lost a loved one in a rideshare accident.
Liability in Uber and Lyft Rideshare Accidents
Rideshare insurance coverage is still relatively new. Ridesharing as an industry has only been around since 2009 when Uber was founded; it took years for insurers, companies, and legislation to address the liability concerns involved.
Today, rideshare companies are not usually found liable for any harm passengers suffer during a ride. The driver who caused a given accident is typically considered responsible, so any damages are supposed to be covered by their car insurance. This is true whether an accident is caused by the rideshare driver or someone else.
However, many insurance companies refuse to provide personal coverage while a rideshare driver is working. To fill the gap in California, both Lyft and Uber provide drivers with broad insurance policies covering up to $1 million for third-party liability claims and uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury claims.
So, what does this mean for rideshare passengers? If they are injured or killed in an accident, the driver’s company-provided insurance can cover claims of up to one million dollars, regardless of who was at fault. If the other driver caused the accident, such as in the Los Angeles crash, that policy covers claims first, and then the Uber policy covers any damages that exceed its limits.
Comparing Personal Injury vs. Wrongful Death Car Accident Claims
Why? It’s because as devastating as a car accident injury may be, the injured person can still file insurance claims on their own behalf. They can testify about what they’ve lost, the medical care they will need in the future, and who was at fault for the accident. While no car accident claim is easy, these factors make achieving just compensation simpler.
In contrast, wrongful death claims are often more complex. While it may seem obvious that causing someone’s death is more serious than injuring them, California’s civil liability laws are not intended to be punitive. Instead, they are designed to compensate people for their losses.
Someone who is deceased cannot file a lawsuit on their own behalf and may no longer be compensated. As such, state courts focus on the losses the decedent’s loved ones suffered. Only a deceased person’s heirs have the right to file a claim. Additionally, they must prove that they have suffered a substantial loss due to the death. These complications often make wrongful death claims more complex, especially if the deceased did not have a spouse or children they supported financially.
How to Begin a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Rideshare Company
While wrongful death claims may be more complex than personal injury cases, they are still worth pursuing. If you have lost a loved one in a rideshare accident, here’s how to begin your claim:
- Consult an experienced wrongful death attorney: It’s important to work with a skilled lawyer to confirm whether you’re eligible to file and complete the rest of the claim accurately.
- Notify the rideshare company and insurance providers of the accident: Make sure these companies are aware of the accident so they can begin their investigations as soon as possible.
- Identify the potentially liable parties: This typically includes the drivers of all vehicles involved in the accident and their insurers. It may also include other parties, such as the car manufacturer or municipality.
- Get copies of important documents: Your lawyer will help you get copies of the police report about the accident as well as death certificates, medical records, and other relevant information.
- Collect evidence of your losses: You’ll need receipts for expenses like funeral costs, unpaid medical bills, and the income the deceased can no longer earn.
- File your claim: Once you’ve collected the appropriate documentation and notified all parties, your attorney will help you file an official claim.
At Fiore Achermann, we understand the pain of losing a loved one unexpectedly. We are dedicated to helping our clients seek justice for their lost family members. If you need to file a claim against a rideshare company for a loved one’s wrongful death, we can help. Contact our California wrongful death law firm to learn more about how we can help you.