How Do NYC Courts Handle Rideshare (Uber/Lyft) Accidents?
If you were involved in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft – or if you were hit by an Uber/Lyft driver – then there could be plenty of compensation you are owed for your injuries and other damages. Getting these damages is often confusing, and it is important to understand how NYC courts handle these cases.
First, know that NYC courts might not handle a lot of these cases. New York no-fault insurance laws keep a lot of cases from getting to court, and Uber/Lyft’s robust insurance policies might mean going to court is unnecessary. If the case does go to court, it will be handled much like any other car accident case, as you usually cannot bring the rideshare company into the suit without special circumstances.
If you were injured in an accident, reach out to the NYC Uber and Lyft accident attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm by calling (718) 841-0083.
Getting Your NYC Uber/Lyft Accident Case into Court
Before a court can handle your accident case at all, it needs to be able to go to court. Many car accident cases cannot go to court because of New York’s no-fault insurance scheme, which is designed to get people damages without needing a judge and jury. The trade-off is that lawsuits are barred except in serious cases. However, our Brookhaven Uber and Lyft accident attorneys can help analyze your case and help you understand whether the court can hear your case. There are also some general jurisdictional requirements and elements to meet for your case to get into court.
New York’s No-Fault Rules
Car accident victims cannot sue for a crash unless their injuries are serious enough. There is a “serious injury threshold” in New York that dictates when cases are over the line and become serious enough for a lawsuit.
Generally, any permanent injury will qualify, and you can always sue for the death of a fetus or a loved one’s death in a car accident. Additionally, you can sue for broken bones. Lastly, New York’s rules have a special 90/180 Day Rule that says that any injury that will incapacitate you for 90 of the next 180 days after the crash is also considered “serious.” Note that those 90 days do not need to be consecutive, as the road to recovery is not often a straight line.
Jurisdiction for NYC Courts
If your Uber/Lyft accident happened in NYC, you will usually file the case in NYC. However, each borough has its own county, which can make identifying which courthouse you should file your case in somewhat difficult. No one is expecting you to be an expert on NYC geography, and you can instead discuss the location of your crash with your lawyers so they can determine which court should hear your case.
If you get the wrong courthouse for whatever reason, they will usually dismiss your case, but you should be able to re-file in the correct courthouse.
There are also some special rules that sometimes allow you to file in federal court, such as if the defendant lives in another state (known as “diversity jurisdiction”). However, whether you do this or not comes down to legal tactics and is something your lawyer can help you decide on. Even when filed in federal court under this “diversity jurisdiction,” the court usually handles the case under New York State law.
Elements to Get Your Case into Court
Cases filed in court must make a prima facie case before they can progress to trial. This means that your initial filing must make out each element of the case. Courts will analyze this by presuming everything you say is true and seeing whether you meet each element. If you miss elements of your claim even if your facts are true, then there is no way you’d be able to win at trial, so the case gets dismissed.
In an Uber/Lyft accident case, there are four elements: the duty the defendant owed you, their breach of duty, that the breach caused the crash, and that the crash resulted in damages and injuries. Usually, the duty is based on traffic laws, a breach is based on a violation of those rules, and causation is proven through evidence and testimony. Your damages will also need to be proven with medical records and other evidence.
Should Courts or Insurance Handle Uber and Lyft Accident Claims in NYC?
If your case meets all of the elements and your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, then you could be entitled to file a lawsuit. When you meet the serious injury threshold, your lawsuit or insurance claim can include additional damages for pain and suffering damages, something you are otherwise blocked from receiving. But you might not need to go to court to get damages paid in full.
Uber and Lyft both have insurance policies that cover up to a million dollars if the crash occurred while their driver had a passenger or was on the way to pick up a rider. This insurance could be enough to cover you without needing to go to court. However, if the insurance company refuses to cooperate, a judge and jury can decide your case instead.
Can You Sue Uber and Lyft for Crashes in NYC?
Generally, your case will be against the driver who hit you and their insurance company only. If the rideshare driver caused your crash, you usually cannot sue the rideshare company because the driver is not an employee of that company. Rules that let you sue an employer for their driver’s actions do not typically apply to rideshare companies, but there are limited ways you can sue them, such as in cases of negligent hiring and retention.
Call Our Uber and Lyft Accident Lawyers in NYC Today
After a crash, call (718) 841-0083 for a free case evaluation with The Carrion Law Firm’s Melville Uber and Lyft accident attorneys.