If you've been injured in a traffic accident as a passenger in an Uber® or Lyft® vehicle, and you're thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit to get compensation for your losses, you're probably wondering about the value of your case. How do you put a dollar figure on harm resulting from accidents like these? What specific losses will be covered in a settlement or court award over car accident injuries suffered by a rideshare passenger?
As with any injury-related case, figuring out the value of a rideshare passenger's injury claim starts with an understanding of the scope of the injured person's "damages," which is a legal term that refers to compensation for losses suffered by that person (the plaintiff). Damages are paid by the defendant (or most often by the defendant's insurance company in lawsuits stemming from traffic accidents).
It's important to note that it's not always clear where ultimate financial responsibility will rest in these types of cases—with the liability or uninsured motorist insurance coverage that both Uber® and Lyft® carry and provide to their drivers, with the rideshare driver (whose personal car insurance policy likely won't cover an accident that occurs after a passenger has been picked up), or with the driver of the other vehicle (if that's where fault for the car accident lies). But whatever route your rideshare passenger injury case takes, and regardless of whether it settles out of court or you receive a judgment in your favor after a trial, the money you receive is considered damages. (Learn more about the basics of damages and compensation in a personal injury case.)
Let's look at some common categories of damages, and how each might affect the value of your Uber®/Lyft® passenger injury lawsuit.
As a plaintiff, if you win or settle your Uber®/Lyft® passenger injury case, your damages include compensation for:
Note that if the full nature and extent of your injuries isn't clear, it's probably not in your best interest to accept an injury settlement offer. Your attorney will almost certainly want to wait until both of you have a clear picture of this component of your damages, because once you accept an injury settlement, you can't go back and reopen your claim, even if you learn that your injuries are worse than you first thought.
If the injuries you suffered as a passenger in a rideshare vehicle have forced you to take time off from your job, or have otherwise affected your ability to earn a living, that kind of economic harm will also factor into your damages. Specifically, you are entitled to compensation for any income you've already lost—and for income you would have earned in the future but now won't—due to your injuries and any limitations resulting from them. In "legalese," an award based on future income is characterized as compensation for the injured person's "loss of earning capacity" or "diminished earning capacity."
While economic losses like medical bills and lost income are fairly easy to calculate, "pain and suffering" isn't so easy to quantify. But this category of damages plays a big part in determining how much you can expect to receive in an injury case, and can be a crucial component of an Uber®/Lyft® passenger injury lawsuit, especially when injuries resulting from the crash are significant. Pain and suffering is often broken down into two types:
(Learn more about pain and suffering in a personal injury case.)
When you file a lawsuit over injuries sustained in a rideshare vehicle accident, you're asking the defendant (usually through an insurance company) to compensate you for your damages, but you're also taking on the legal obligation to keep those damages to a reasonable minimum.
The law in most states expects injury claimants to minimize or "mitigate" the financial impact of the harm caused by the defendant's alleged wrongdoing. For example, if the Uber®/Lyft® driver (or the rideshare company through its insurer) can successfully argue that you failed to get necessary medical treatment within a reasonable time after the car accident, and that the delay caused your injuries to get worse, your damages award might be significantly reduced. This is one of many reasons why it's important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. Learn more about finding the right lawyer for you and your rideshare passenger injury case.