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Michigan Rideshare Accident Attorney

Every month, millions of people rely on Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services for some or all of their transportation needs. These drivers are prone to the same mistakes, like speeding and fatigued driving, that other drivers make. Additionally, many ridesharing drivers over-rely on smartphone GPS navigation devices, and they do not always use hands-free devices. If you were hurt in a ridesharing crash, you may be entitled to substantial compensation.

The compassionate Michigan rideshare accident lawyers at Buchanan Firm understand the turmoil that an accident causes. As a passenger in such a vehicle, you have little or no control over the accident. Many victims feel the same way in the wake of a crash. Therefore, our accident lawyers give clients solid legal advice, so they can make good decisions and retake control of their lives.

First-Party Liability in Michigan Ridesharing Crashes

As mentioned, distracted driving accidents is a serious concern with ridesharing drivers. Legally, distracted driving could be any of the following:

  • Taking one’s hand off the wheel (manual distraction)
  • Taking one’s mind off driving (cognitive distraction)
  • Taking one’s eyes off the road (visual distraction)

Hand-held GPS navigation devices combine all three types of distraction. Hands-free devices are not much safer. They are visually and cognitively distracting, and they also give drivers a false sense of security.

Additionally, many ridesharing operators driver early in the morning or late at night. People are naturally fatigued at these times of day, no matter how much rest they had the previous night. Drowsy driving is about as dangerous as drunk driving. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level.

Generally, it is easier for a Michigan rideshare accident attorney to prove negligence in ridesharing cases. Since they are commercial operators, Uber and Lyft drivers have a higher duty of care in Michigan. These drivers are practically insurers of safe conduct.

Third-Party Liability

Vicarious liability usually applies in ridesharing crashes. Respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) usually applies to Uber drivers, truck drivers, taxi drivers, and other commercial operators. This legal theory has two basic prongs:

  • Employee: Even though ridesharing operators are independent contractors for tax purposes, they are “employees” for negligence purposes. The employer controls their actions in terms of things like riders picked up and driver payments.
  • Scope of Employment: Any act which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. That includes driving a vehicle with the Uber or Lyft logo, whether or not there is a passenger in the vehicle.

Third-party liability theories like this one are particularly important in serious injury collisions. Many times, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation. That’s especially true in ridesharing claims because many personal insurance policies do not cover commercial claims.

Insurance Company Defenses in Michigan

When passengers are injured, driving defenses, like comparative fault, do not apply. But many insurance companies use the assumption of the risk defense. They argue that passengers are responsible for their own injuries because they voluntarily assumed a known risk. But unless the victim saw the tortfeasor driving recklessly, the victim did not assume a known risk.

Michigan is one of the few states which recognizes the seat belt defense. If victims were not wearing seat belts, they may be responsible for their own injuries. But for the seat belt defense to apply, the insurance company must prove that the victim wasn’t properly restrained and that lack of restraint substantially caused injury. These things are difficult to prove in court.

Rely on an Experienced Rideshare Accident Lawyer

Rideshare crashes usually involve complex legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced rideshare accident lawyer in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We routinely handle matters in Kent County and nearby jurisdictions.