Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Same Injuries, Different Legal Cases

People most are familiar with car accidents, they are fairly common. Accidents involving buses, planes, cabs, trains, Uber or other ride-sharing services are less common and are referred to as “common carrier” accidents. These cases present some unique challenges when compared to accidents involving only personal vehicles.  

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a common carrier vehicle, it is important to understand these differences. You should first seek medical treatment, but you should also seek experienced legal counsel to help you understand your rights and the potential implications of how to proceed.  

The Role of Insurance

It is first important to understand the role insurance plays in an accident, whether between private parties or involving a commercial transportation service. When there is an accident that results in legal action, the injured party is making a monetary claim against the at-fault party. The at-fault party typically has insurance who will defend its driver and pay the injured party’s damages. These damages could include not only the cost of your medical treatment, but also pay for any property damage to your vehicle, lost wages, or other losses.  

Private Vehicle vs. Common Carrier

When the at-fault driver was driving his private vehicle, the process of making a claim is difficult but fairly straightforward. Basically, you would make a claim against or sue the other driver. Cases involving common carriers have the following differences:

  • You may have a claim against the driver of the vehicle, against the company who owns the vehicles and operates the service, or both.
  • While common carriers do owe a higher duty to their passengers than other parties, you must prove that they breached that duty.
  • Common carriers may be liable for failing to follow industry standards, in addition to state, local, and federal regulations and/or traffic laws.

These differences are important, and failing to understand them can compromise your legal rights.  

Employee vs. Independent Contractor

In most cases involving a common carrier, the driver is an employee of the company that owns the vehicle. For Uber and Lyft, as well as some taxi companies, the driver is classified as an independent contractor. This is a way for the company to limit and avoid liability in instances where the accident may have been caused by the driver’s negligence. That said, the company should have a policy that covers the driver, and the driver is supposed to carry his own insurance as well. Unfortunately, the claim process can get very complicated if the driver doesn’t have insurance or his insurance company denies liability.  

Contact a Georgia Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured, you need to focus on recovering from your injuries, but you also need to think about your financial future. Medical treatment can be expensive, and you may be out of work or otherwise limited in your day-to-day life. You may be entitled to compensation. The law firm of Slappey & Sadd has been helping Georgia accident victims since 1992, and our lawyers are here to help. Call us at 404-255-6677 today or send us an email via our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.  

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