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Do You Have to Wear a Seat Belt while Riding in an Uber or Lyft Car?

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Uber and Lyft are convenient peer-to-peer service that utilizes modern smartphone technology. They offer a transportation alternative to public transit like light rail, buses, trolleys, and taxi cabs. What's more, in most cities, hitching a ride in an Uber or Lyft car is less expensive than hailing a taxi cab. The ride sharing app keeps its costs low because it is not regulated by states and cities the same as taxi fleets. The ride share company is not required to have the same type of insurance, and, it does not pay for medallions for its vehicles (the official licensing of a vehicle to carry paying passengers).

There are however, similarities between taxis and peer-to-peer cars such as safety of passengers. Approximately 65 percent of taxi passengers buckle their seat belts which a stark contrast from passengers in private vehicles who buckle-up at a rate of about 87 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"). The reason is probably psychological because most public transit is not equipped with seat belts.

Uber and Lyft are convenient peer-to-peer service that utilizes modern smartphone technology. They offer a transportation alternative to public transit like light rail, buses, trolleys, and taxi cabs. What's more, in most cities, hitching a ride in an Uber or Lyft car is less expensive than hailing a taxi cab. The ride sharing app keeps its costs low because it is not regulated by states and cities the same as taxi fleets. The ride share company is not required to have the same type of insurance, and, it does not pay for medallions for its vehicles (the official licensing of a vehicle to carry paying passengers).

There are however, similarities between taxis and peer-to-peer cars such as safety of passengers. Approximately 65 percent of taxi passengers buckle their seat belts which a stark contrast from passengers in private vehicles who buckle-up at a rate of about 87 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"). The reason is probably psychological because most public transit is not equipped with seat belts.

Do You Have to Wear a Seat Belt while Riding in an Uber or Lyft Car?

According to Uber's company official website, passengers are urged to wear seat belts when riding in an Uber car. The question, though, is what happens if you are riding in one of these cars and are involved in a traffic collision? There are a number of legal principles to look at, but in general, it's always a good idea to be safe and take preventative measures of buckling your seat belt when riding in any moving vehicle. Think of it this way. If you were riding a speeding rollercoaster, you would make sure you were strapped in safely. A moving vehicle is not very different than a rollercoaster.

As an Uber or Lyft rider, it is your responsibility to abide by the seat belt laws in your state and most states require all occupants in a vehicle to wear a seatbelt. However, we recommend you always wear a seatbelt while riding in any vehicle. Drivers are always responsible for guests traveling with them or for anyone for whom a ride is requested. In the event of an accident, it is possible a passenger can hold one of the drivers liable. This isn't a certainty, but, doesn't mean that if you're injured while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you have no legal recourse.

Considerations about Passenger Injuries While Riding in an Uber or Lyft Car

The state of California has adopted the doctrine of comparative negligence which means assigning percentages of blame. For instance, if you are a passenger injured in a taxicab collision in the Golden State and can prove the driver's fault in the collision, you could recover damages. But it will depend on your contributing percentage of fault. In other words, if you are taxi cab passenger and do not buckle your seat belt, there can have a negative impact on your claim if there is a crash.

Another consideration in difference between taxi cabs and peer-to-peer vehicles is cab drivers can be employees of a company fleet whereas Uber and Lyft drivers are private drivers and independent contractors. So it's possible you could have a cause of action against the cab driver and the fleet corporation, but may not have the same standing against the ride-sharing peer-to-peer company.

Another consideration is taxi cab fleets, under California law, are considered to be "common carriers." This means taxi drivers and the fleet corporation both have a duty of care for their passengers. Since Uber or Lyft vehicles are not regulated by state or city laws, those same protections might not be available.

Last, but certainly not least, is the insurance companies which will be involved after an Uber or Lyft car accident. Those corporate entities will do what they can to stall and diminish their exposure to claims. In fact, Uber is under fire from state and city governments across the country because rideshare drivers are operating outside regulations. Insurance companies are joining in this battle because of the complications that fall under the State of California's "transportation network companies."

Being involved in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle can be complicated. If you have been involved in an accident while riding in either, you do have rights and need to speak to an experienced attorney about your case to learn what options might be available to you.

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