Rear-End Collisions in Rideshares in Washington: Establishing Liability in Common Accident Claims

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have become increasingly popular over the past decade, providing convenient and affordable transportation options for millions of people. However, the rise in rideshare vehicles on the roads also leads to an increased risk of accidents, including rear-end collisions. In Washington state specifically, rear-end crashes account for over 30% of all collisions annually.

For rideshare passengers injured in a rear-end collision, identifying who is at fault and liable for damages can be complicated. This article examines common rear-end accident claims involving rideshares in Washington and how liability is determined based on state laws and insurance policies.

Causes of Rideshare Rear-End Collisions

There are a few typical causes of rear-end crashes involving rideshare vehicles:

Distracted driving – The rideshare driver may be distracted by their mobile device and not paying attention to slowing or stopping traffic ahead. Distracted driving laws in Washington prohibit holding and using handheld devices while driving. Engaging with the rideshare app while driving can take the driver’s eyes and focus off the road.

Fatigued driving – Rideshare drivers often work long hours, increasing the chances of driver fatigue, leading to slower reaction times and impaired attention. Drowsy driving is a major cause of accidents. Working long shifts with limited breaks can quickly cause mental and physical fatigue.

Speeding – Rideshare drivers may speed to quickly get between rides or complete more rides in a shift. Excessive speed reduces the ability to brake in time to avoid a rear-end collision. Washington speed limits are set for safety reasons and violating them endangers all road users.

Slippery road conditions – Rain or snow-covered roads can cause longer stopping distances and make it easier for vehicles to skid into each other. Winter weather requires extra precautions like slower speeds and increased following distance.

Poor visibility – Night driving or bad weather can limit visibility and make it harder for drivers to see brake lights or traffic ahead. Rideshares operate 24/7, so driving at night is common and requires extra attention.

Aggressive driving – Rideshare drivers trying to meet rider demand may drive more aggressively by tailgating, making unsafe lane changes, running red lights, etc. Aggressive driving often leads to crashes.

Impaired driving – Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs slows reaction time and information processing needed to avoid accidents. Rideshare companies prohibit drug or alcohol use while driving.

Determining Liability in a Rideshare Rear-End Crash

If another driver strikes a rideshare vehicle from behind, liability will likely fall on the other (rear-ending) driver. However, determining who is at fault becomes more complicated if the rideshare vehicle rear-ends another car.

Under Washington law, rear drivers are presumed negligent in rear-end accidents. However, the rideshare driver may be able to rebut this presumption of liability if there are circumstances that made the accident unavoidable (e.g., the lead driver stopped suddenly without cause).

To determine liability, evidence from the scene, like skid marks, weather and traffic conditions, witness statements, and data from the rideshare vehicle, can be examined. Police reports, accident reconstruction, and other accident investigation methods help establish factors that contributed to causing the crash.

Rideshare Insurance Policies

Rideshare companies (and their drivers) carry specific insurance policies that apply during different phases of a ride:

  • Period 1 – When the driver is logged into the app but has not accepted a ride request. The rideshare company provides third-party liability coverage up to state minimum requirements in case the driver causes an accident.
  • Period 2 – When the driver has accepted a ride request, but there is no passenger yet. Rideshare insurance increases to higher coverage limits including collision and comprehensive coverage.
  • Period 3 – When there is a passenger in the vehicle until they exit at the destination. Insurance limits are the highest, often matching personal auto insurance limits.

The rideshare driver’s liability depends on what period the accident occurred in. Their personal auto policy may or may not apply depending on the rideshare company’s insurance. Understanding the coverages is important for determining who will pay for damages after a rideshare rear-end accident. An attorney can help analyze liability based on the insurance coverages, too.

Compensation for Your Rideshare Rear-End Crash Injuries

If you are injured as a rideshare passenger in a rear-end collision caused by another driver’s negligence, you can make an injury claim to recover compensatory damages. With a qualified attorney’s help, you can receive fair compensation for:

  • Medical expenses – All past and future costs of treatment and rehabilitation for your crash injuries.
  • Lost income – You can recover lost wages if you missed work because of the accident.
  • Loss of earning capacity – If your injuries impede your ability to work long-term.
  • Pain and suffering – Damages for physical pain and emotional distress suffered.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life – Compensation if your quality of life has been reduced by permanent disabilities.
  • Property damage – Repairs or replacement value of belongings damaged in the crash.

Thoroughly documenting your injuries, expenses, losses, and adverse impacts from the accident is key to receiving full and fair compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. An experienced Washington rideshare accident attorney can handle the evidence collection and demand process for maximum compensation for you.

Get Legal Help from a Washington Rideshare Accident Attorney

Rear-end crashes are an ever-present risk with the popularity of Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services on Washington roads. If you are injured as a rideshare passenger in a rear-end collision caused by negligence, speak to an attorney right away to understand your options and legal rights. An experienced Washington rideshare accident lawyer can help establish liability, negotiate with insurance companies, and pursue maximum compensation for your damages so you can focus on your recovery.

With 32 offices in 19 states, including Washington, Georgia, and Nebraska, we can represent you if you’ve been injured in a rideshare rear-end collision accident. Call today for a free consultation and case evaluation on (888) 477-0597.