As part of its mission to provide safety information to insurance companies and auto makers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) routinely conducts studies on how to reduce the risks of accidents and potential for serious injuries. A recent study should be of particular concern to any motorist or passenger, especially for those who use ridesharing services in Miami: The dangers of riding in the back seat of a vehicle, a common practice for Uber and Lyft passengers, are serious. IIHS researchers expressed serious concerns about multiple crash-related factors, after analyzing the details of almost 120 collisions that caused death to back seat passengers.
The increased risk for back seat occupants is alarming, but the truth is that you have rights after an Uber or Lyft crash no matter where you were sitting. It is important to speak with a Miami rideshare accidents attorney about the legal concepts, but you may also benefit from some information about the threat to back seat riders.
Seat Belt Usage and Rideshare Services
It is a well-known fact that buckling up saves lives, and Florida laws require all front seat occupants to wear a seat belt. Still, there is no law that mandates seat belt usage by adults in the back seat. Many riders using Uber or Lyft do not wear a restraint for this reason, as well as the fact that their trips may be short.
In addition, when the use of ridesharing services is focused on shopping or errands, some riders will bring along children. Not only is it illegal for those under 18 years old to be unrestrained, but younger passengers must also be in an approved car seat. Without proper restraints, back seat riders can be seriously injured in the event of a crash.
Increased Risks for Back Seat Passenger Injuries
It makes sense that the heightened threat of injuries may be partly due to back seat riders not buckling up. However, the IIHS study pointed out a shocking shortcoming that can only be blamed on automakers: Many back seat safety restraints actually cause more severe injuries, especially to the chest where the strap crosses the torso.
In general, manufacturers dedicate significant resources to protecting front seat passengers when designing around safety features – and not as much effort to those behind them. Seat belts in the front of a vehicle will tighten around the occupant, but they release some tension through force limiters. Belts and shoulder straps in the back may not incorporate this technology. IIHS noted that more sophisticated restraint systems are necessary for those in the back seat, many of whom are Uber or Lyft riders.
Contact a Miami Rideshare Accidents Lawyer to Discuss Your Rights
Our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA handles all types of auto crash cases, but we have a specific focus on the unique, emerging liability issues involved with Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services. For more information on how we can assist with the legal process, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. We can set up a free consultation to review your case and advise you on your remedies.