What to do if You’re Injured in a Rideshare Accident
Millions of women and men from coast-to-coast use rideshare services like Uber and Lyft each and every year. Consequently, a considerable number of passengers in rideshare vehicles are injured in accidents annually. Indeed, some preliminary research suggests that the presence of Uber and Lyft rideshare vehicles on U.S. roadways has increased automobile accidents in the country by between 2 to 3 percent.
There are some unique facts and factors associated with being a passenger in an accident caused by your Uber or Lyft driver. These include some specific issues associated with making a claim for compensation for injuries, damages, and losses you’ve suffered as a result of an accident caused by an Uber or Lyft driver.
Passenger Onboard: Automobile Insurance Coverage in the Era of Rideshare
Uber and Lyft require drivers using their apps to be in full compliance with the laws of whatever state in which they drive. Thus, in theory, any Uber or Lyft driver personally will maintain at least the minimum amount of automobile insurance coverage required by state law.
Both Uber and Lyft maintain $1 million in liability coverage and $1 million in uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage for any driver approved to use their apps. This coverage is available in an incident in which an Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident with a passenger in the vehicle. (Situations in which an Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident in which no passenger is in the rideshare vehicles are addressed in a moment.)
When a rideshare passenger is injured because of an accident caused by an Uber of Lyft driver, that individual may be in a position to pursue a claim against both the rideshare company’s insurance policy and the automobile insurance policy personally maintained by the driver.
Uber or Lyft En Route to Pick Up Passenger
If you’re not a passenger in an Uber or Lyft but end up involved in an accident caused by one of these rideshare drivers, Uber or Lyft insurance coverage may come into play, depending on the circumstances of surrounding the incident. If the rideshare driver has accepted a passenger via the Uber or Lyft app, the rideshare company’s insurance policy will come into play. In other words, you will be in a position to submit a claim to the Uber or Lyft insurance company.
If there is no passenger in a rideshare vehicle, and if the driver has not accepted a trip requested by a passenger, odds are that a person involved in an accident with a person who is a rideshare driver will not be able to make a claim via the Uber or Lyft automobile insurance policy. Only the driver’s personal policy will be available.
Suing Uber or Lyft Directly
If a rideshare passenger or other individual injured by a rideshare driver is not able to reach an acceptable settlement, that person may be left with the need to file a lawsuit. An area of contention is whether or not a rideshare passenger can sue Uber or Lyft directly.
Both of these companies typically respond to lawsuits with the defense that the driver is a fully independent contractor and Uber or Lyft merely created a digital platform for these drivers to use to further their own businesses. For a number of reasons, California enacted a law in 2019 that significantly narrows the ability of Uber and Lyft to claim its drivers are independent contractors. In fact, under the new law, rideshare drivers appear to be placed in the position of employees.
Thus, under this paradigm, if an accident occurs, Uber or Lyft look like they are not in positions in which they can be sued directly in California. No other state has enacted a law of this nature as of this time. Moreover, the California law will be subject to legal challenges.
Legal Presentation Following a Rideshare Accident
The bottom line, obtaining appropriate compensation following a rideshare accident can be a complicated, complex, challenging endeavor – some might suggest even herculean. If you find yourself in this type of situation, you are wise to promptly consult with a rideshare accident lawyer from The Doan Law Firm. You can schedule a consultation and case evaluation by calling (800) 349-0000, any time of the day or night, any day of the year. A nationwide law practice, there is never a charge for an initial appointment with a rideshare accident lawyer. In addition, the firm never charges an attorney fee unless you win a favorable settlement or judgment in your case.