We’ve seen ridesharing become a mainstream moneymaking opportunity in America, but now car-sharing is turning into a popular counterpart. The idea that you can rent your own car to others and reap financial benefits is a unique business concept—but it’s also fraught with numerous legal hurdles.
One of the biggest problems is the possibility of an accident occurring while someone rents your car. When you turn your car over to people you don’t know, the chances are always present that they could total your car in an accident—or worse, they could severely injure someone else.
How do you deal with the legal aspects if you decide to become involved with car-sharing? More to the point, who is ultimately responsible when these accidents occur?
How Car-Sharing Became a New Line of Business
While not the first, General Motors is one corporation that recently started a car-sharing service. Its program, still in beta testing, allows GM car owners to rent their cars to anyone else for temporary use. Described as an “Airbnb for cars,” General Motors calls its service Peer Cars. Only car models from 2015 or newer are eligible to use in the program. GM also provides its own insurance, and makes sure the vehicles are supposedly in good working condition.
Even so, think about the potential for mistakes. What would happen if GM mechanics overlooked something before you rented your vehicle? What if a negligent driver happens to cause a serious accident?
What if you’re on the receiving end of that accident—who is liable, the driver, the car owner, or GM?
The Potential for Accidents is Growing as Car Sharing Increases
Recently, car sharing has begun to spread to other parts of the country. A San Francisco company called RelayRides recently started to provide a nationwide car-sharing program. Before long, we’ll likely see car sharing become as ubiquitous as ridesharing.
Unfortunately, we also already see far too many accidents involving services like Uber and Lyft.
Inc. recently reported on the potential for car sharing accidents and how they may increase dramatically during the coming years. They note ridesharing accidents tripled within the last few years, leading to complex legal issues for both drivers and passengers.
Will we really see car accidents increase once more people begin to rent their cars? While it’s difficult to provide a clear answer, the complex liability issues for users of car share services involved in accidents is certain.
What to Do When a Car Accident Occurs
Would you know what to do if you found out your car driver had an accident?
The first thing those involved should do is call 911 to get medical assistance and dispatch law enforcement. The driver should also, if possible, make sure both vehicles are out of the way of other traffic, and use flares, cones, or hazard lights to warn oncoming motorists of the accident scene.
Next—assuming injuries don’t prevent it—the people involved should try to compile as much information as possible about the driver who caused the accident. You may need to insurance and contact information for both the driver who rented the car as well as the owner of the car.
Don’t hesitate to call a personal injury attorney immediately if you think you suffered any form of physical injury. An attorney can help compile information, speak with law enforcement and medical providers, and begin assembling evidence in the event you need to file a personal injury claim.
Deciding Whether to Pursue a Claim
Should you pursue a claim against a car-sharing company, a car owner, a car driver, or some combination of the three? It may take some time to answer these questions and resolve your case.
To help you gain compensation from the liable party or parties, your legal team should work hard to compile all of your accident claim costs. This could include medical costs, vehicle repair, lost income, and anything else that has or may cause you financial difficulties.
Your personal injury team can do this for you, so you can rest easy and focus on recovery from injuries. Once your case is underway, having an experienced legal team on your side is a valuable resource for ensuring the successful outcome of your case.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Never attempt to deal with insurance companies on your own—insurers have a vested interest in minimizing or avoiding paying out for claims. Let your personal injury legal team handle all communication with insurers.
When it comes to insurance, the no-fault laws here in Florida demand all ridesharing drivers acquire their own insurance. The trouble is, personal injury protection insurance (PIP) may fall short, as these companies often don’t cover drivers transporting passengers for income. Those injured while using ridesharing services often discover this the hard way.
Like Uber and Lyft, car sharing services may provide secondary insurance. In cases where you’re renting your own car through services like those offered by GM, the company provides this supplemental protection. Still, don’t expect them to willingly pay out to the claimant for damages.
Most insurance companies try to get the injured person to sign a waiver that settles a case quickly. This frequently means far less compensation than a person deserves, making it vital to speak with an attorney before negotiating with or accepting an offer from insurance companies.
Who Is Really to Blame?
Companies like Uber and Lyft frequently try to deflect liability for accidents, trying to make the driver ultimately responsible.
Car sharing companies may work a little differently. Car owners wishing to rent their cars can set their own prices and schedules, giving them plenty of autonomy. Beyond this, owners or service providers are often responsible for defects or maintenance issues. As a result, renting your own car through these services could result in potential liability for accidents.
This is why gathering evidence is so important in the event of a car sharing accident. Your legal team should work diligently to gather the evidence, determine fault, and plan the best course of action for arguing a claim. Evidence might point to another driver at fault for the crash, or maybe the company behind the service is negligent due to improperly maintaining the car.
Call Uber Car Accident Law If a Car Sharing Driver Hurt You
The laws involving car sharing are complicated and still evolving—so if you’re injured in a car sharing accident, don’t try to fight it without an experienced legal team behind you. Instead, contact Uber Car Accident Law online immediately, or call (305) 964-8806.