The popularity of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft has led (inevitably) to a significant increase in the number of traffic accidents involving rideshare customers. If you're injured in a crash as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle (whether the accident was the fault of the rideshare driver or someone else), having the right attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of any personal injury claim you decide to file.
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). That's a big reason why having a seasoned lawyer on your side is critical. But what should you look for in a lawyer, and what do you need to know about the attorney-client relationship in cases like these?
Online resources like AllLaw are a great way to put together an initial list of candidates you might want to get in touch with when you're looking for an attorney to handle your Uber/Lyft passenger injury lawsuit. Asking for a referral to an attorney from someone you trust can be a good way to find legal help, but the reality is that many people don’t have a big word-of-mouth network when it comes to lawyers.
Remember, you're not just looking for someone who has experience handling lawsuits like yours; you're also looking for someone you can trust and whom you feel comfortable working with. State bar associations usually have websites that allow you to look up lawyers and learn information like whether they've been subject to any discipline. (Learn more about finding the right lawyer for a personal injury case.)
Whether you talk to a lawyer in person or over the phone about your potential Uber/Lyft passenger injury lawsuit, here are some topics you might want to touch on.
Remember to consider any special needs you might have, and any practicalities. For example, could you benefit from an attorney who speaks a language other than English? If you'll need to visit the lawyer from time to time, is the lawyer's office relatively nearby and close to public transportation, if that's how you travel? (Check out more questions to ask a potential personal injury attorney.)
Chances are a lawyer will handle your rideshare passenger injury lawsuit on a "contingency fee" basis. This means if you reach an out-of-court settlement, or your lawsuit goes all the way to trial and you receive a judgment in your favor, your lawyer will be paid a percentage of what you receive—usually around one-third of the total. If you don't receive anything from the other side, your lawyer doesn't get paid.
It's important to read the fine print of any attorney-client contract before you sign it, and to understand whether you would be on the hook for expenses or "costs" associated with your case if you don't end up with a trial win or settlement.
Even if you think you have a good case, be prepared for a lawyer to turn down the opportunity to represent you. Many lawyers do not take cases if they fall below a certain potential recovery amount, or if a key element of the case is less than clear. Maybe you were involved in a traffic accident while riding in a rideshare vehicle, but you haven't been diagnosed with an actual injury, or you have no records of medical treatment with any health care providers after the accident, so there's not a clear picture of your harm. Be prepared to keep looking for help with your case, or to look again as your situation changes.