The person or party at fault for your rideshare accident is not liable for your pre-existing condition, but that does not mean they avoid liability if their actions caused significant aggravation of the condition. If you are considering filing a rideshare accident claim, you may be wondering about the relationship between pre-existing medical conditions and rideshare accidents. Many injured victims fail to seek legal recovery because of a belief that their pre-existing condition bars them from compensation. This is not true, and the legal team at Glugeth & Pierguidi, P.C. can help you understand your legal rights and how to receive the meaningful compensation you deserve.
Pre-Existing Conditions: The Eggshell Rule
A previous injury may indeed make you more susceptible than usual to injury during a rideshare accident. It is unreasonable to expect everyone in a vehicle accident to be perfectly healthy before the collision. And it’s important for you to know that pre-existing conditions such as healed bone fractures or back issues that become re-injured or exacerbated by the accident are not barred from recovery.
In New Jersey, a common law legal doctrine known as the Eggshell Skull Rule is applied to allow victims with pre-existing conditions to file car accident claims against negligent people or parties. The Eggshell Skull Doctrine states that the defendant is liable for any injuries made worse by the plaintiff’s pre-existing health state—even if an average plaintiff would not have suffered in the same way. It is important to note that this doctrine only applies to pre-existing conditions that are significantly impacted by the rideshare accident, so you must be able to prove a correlation between the worsening of the injury and the accident.
Can I File a Rideshare Accident Claim?
Nearly any time you sustain a serious injury from a vehicle accident caused by the negligent action or inaction of another person or party, you have the legal right to file a claim. This includes pre-existing injuries that are exacerbated by the accident.
Filing a Rideshare Accident Claim
New Jersey is a no-fault state, meaning that your insurance will help pay a portion of the accident expenses regardless of who was at fault. All New Jersey drivers are required to carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP), but that may not always cover the expenses associated with your injury. It is important to go through the proper process to ensure you have the best chance of obtaining fair compensation.
In some cases, the negligent driver may try to offer a lump sum for your injuries and vehicle damage without reporting it to their insurance or the rideshare company. This could be problematic if you later determine that the damage was more extensive than you originally believed.
Filing a Police Report
Failing to report a serious accident to your insurance, regardless of fault, could be grounds for your insurer to deny coverage. It is also a good idea to make sure a police report is filed so you can use the information to show what caused the accident and who was at fault. Remember that you should never agree to an insurance settlement that is less than what you deserve.
New Jersey Rideshare Insurance Laws
There are over 1.7 million rideshare drivers in the U.S., most of which are Uber and Lyft drivers. Rideshare companies have been gaining in popularity over the past decade. It has become evident that this form of transportation is going to be a significant part of how people travel now and into the future. Therefore, in 2017, New Jersey lawmakers enacted a law that requires all rideshare drivers to have a Rideshare Endorsement as part of their insurance policy. Rideshare drivers must carry $1.5 million in liability coverage and $1.5 million in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If the driver does not have PIP or the Rideshare Endorsement, the rideshare company does have its own insurance. It is important to understand who was actually liable for the accident to determine whose insurance should apply.
Determining Who Is Liable in a New Jersey Rideshare Accident
It is important to understand who caused the accident. If you were a passenger in a rideshare vehicle that got hit by another car, or if a rideshare vehicle hit you, that is the general starting point for liability. The other biggest determining factor for liability is the engaged status of the driver when the accident occurred. It is important to understand whether you can hold the rideshare company liable because they have much larger insurance policy limits than most drivers.
- Offline Driver. An offline driver is in their vehicle but not using the rideshare app. In this case, the rideshare company would not be liable at all.
- Available Driver. A driver in their vehicle with the rideshare app on, waiting for a passenger to accept a ride, is an available driver. If an accident exceeds the driver’s policy limits, the rideshare company could be liable.
- En Route. A driver on their way to pick up a passenger is actually working for the company, and the rideshare company’s insurance may apply.
- On a Trip. When the driver is actively taking the passenger to their destination, the full amount of the company’s insurance policy is available.
It is a good idea to take screenshots of your trip and any other interactions with the Uber or Lyft app at the time of the accident in order to document the exact times and the route you were on at the time.
Attorneys for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions and Rideshare Accidents
The rideshare accident attorneys at Glugeth & Pierguidi, P.C. have been serving personal injury victims in New Jersey for over three decades. We have obtained multi-million dollar results to help our clients recover from serious injuries, whether those injuries were new or aggravated pre-existing injuries.
Rideshare accident claims can be more complicated than standard vehicle accidents because of the parties involved. Fortunately, our experienced team understands what it takes to prove liability and obtain maximum compensation against insurance companies who try to offer unfair settlements. Contact us to schedule your case consultation.