Canadian Underwriter

Why ridesharing makes motor vehicle accident claims more complex

June 21, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Inspecting the accident scene early and downloading black box data are among the tactics insurance lawyers use to defend ride share tort claims, lawyers suggested to A.M. Best Company Inc.

“Rideshare cases often involve multiple parties and different causes of action,” said Patrick DeLong, an insurance defence lawyer with Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. “There can be multiple claimants or plaintiffs in the same case those plaintiffs and claimants can be drivers or occupants of other vehicles involved in accidents with rideshare vehicles. Plaintiffs or claimants can also be rideshare drivers or rideshare passengers.”

“The sharing economy is a relatively recent development but it has grown exponentially in a short period of time,” said Thomas Brown, another lawyer with Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin.

“Rideshare claims are increasing. Rideshare claims are complicated. There a number of nuances to handling them,” said Brown. DeLong and Brown co-chair law firm Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin’s rideshare liability practice group.

During a recent A.M. Best podcast, DeLong was asked about the difference between a regular motor vehicle accident lawsuit and one involving ride-sharing. Defendants in such cases can be rideshare platform owners, independent drivers of rideshare vehicles, owners of rideshare vehicles or insurers,” he answered.

Some rideshare cases involve media exposure, said DeLong. “There are brand protection considerations in defending rideshare cases.”

Defence lawyers may also need to defend the trade secrets of the rideshare platform itself, suggested DeLong.

A number of defences may be available in a lawsuit arising from a motor vehicle accident involving ridesharing vehicles, said Brown. For example, the argument might be that there was no negligence on the part of the driver. This is why quick investigations are needed.

“Evidence disappears. Inspecting and preserving the scene and the vehicles involved in an accident is important. Witness statements have to be taken early on because witnesses’ recollections can change and sometimes experts are needed to be retained early on,” said Brown.

Those investigations could include statements from parties, data downloaded from the vehicle black boxes or accident reconstruction.

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