While ride sharing services are trusted to get passengers around safely, accidents do happen regularly and the people who work for these services are certainly not perfect drivers.
A lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court details an accident involving an Uber driver that led to the deaths of three people.
Multiple people die in accident where Uber driver was high on marijuana
The incident began when the ride sharing driver was exiting Interstate 95 southbound on a ramp in the Boca Raton area. A drunk driver travelling in the wrong direction came up the ramp and struck the other vehicle head-on. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner confirmed that the driver who was heading the wrong way had a blood alcohol concentration of about 0.27 at the time of the accident. This is more than triple the legal limit of 0.08 in Florida.
The lawsuit filed by the parents of the passenger in the drunk driver’s car is attaching both Uber as a business entity and the estate of the driver who was working for them at the time. One of the main concerns of the victim’s family is that the Uber driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident. Even though it seems like the other drunk driver was at fault, the 57 year old female who was driving for the ride sharing service had about 4 nanograms of THC in her blood at the time of the crash, which is a large enough amount for intoxication. The drunk driver of the second car involved was a restaurant manager who was romantically involved with his passenger. All three people involved in the crash are now deceased.
The Florida Highway Patrol mentioned that the lights along the exit ramp were not working properly at the time of the accident, which may have been a contributing factor. Uber declined to issue any kind of statement specific to this accident, but they did refer to their policy of conducting background checks of all drivers. They stated that a DUI conviction, violent crimes, and certain other traffic offenses will bar a driver from employment.
General rules regarding automobile accidents
Usually, the victim of a careless driver will file a negligence lawsuit against the driver who they believe is at fault. Negligence is the legal term for when a person or business breaches their duty of care and causes injuries or property damage. However, fault is not always simple to determine and some states have more nuanced laws that allow damages to be divided between each party involved when they all contribute to causing an accident.
Damages are related to the actual harm suffered by the victim. This can include things like medical bills, lost wages, damage to their vehicle, and non-economic troubles caused by emotional pain and suffering. Your lawyer may ask for documentation from medical records, additional examinations by a doctor, and proof of income to use as evidence in a lawsuit.
Who will be at fault for this kind of accident?
Even though it seems like a driver who was clearly drunk must have caused the accident, this does not necessarily bar a civil negligence lawsuit in the state of Florida.
There is a doctrine called comparative negligence, used by Florida and several other states, that allows fault to be divided between all parties involved in an accident to equal one hundred percent. Even a driver who is only slightly at fault may still be sued, but they will only have to pay out damages proportional to their level of fault rather than being responsible for the entire accident. If this sounds confusing, a personal injury lawyer can explain this concept further and estimate how damages may be divided in your accident.
Suing a ride sharing service
In any kind of accident involving Lyft, Uber, or other ride-sharing companies, it is important to realize they these businesses usually have large insurance policies to cover accidents and damage caused by their drivers. As a strategic matter, it may be more important to attach them to a lawsuit than any individual driver, as they will have a better ability to pay out and satisfy judgments against them.
Uber was involved in the accident in the news story above. They specifically have a policy that is designed to protect passengers in vehicles driven by their employees. The can cover up to a million dollars worth of damages with this policy if they are found to be liable and the passenger was injured.
Talk to a lawyer who specializes in ride sharing accidents in West Palm Beach
To learn more about the possibility of a lawsuit against a ride sharing service, contact Smith and Vanture. They can advise you about the specifics of Florida’s negligence laws and any other factors that may be relevant to your case.