Riverside Law Office
11801 Pierce Street, Suite 200
Riverside CA 92505
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Companies like Uber and Lyft have made life a lot easier for millions of people. It reduces the problem of drunk driving and offers a way for people who don’t drive to get around. It’s cheaper and more convenient than a taxi. It’s also offered job opportunities to thousands of people across the country. However, car accidents are still a very real possibility when using a ridesharing service. Injuries caused by car accidents are often serious and expensive. As a ride share passenger, your case is unique. You are obviously not at fault, yet you may still end up dealing with personal injuries, medical bills and lost wages. What are your legal rights and options in this scenario? The insurance claims process could involve your own car insurance, the driver’s personal insurance policy, Uber or Lyft’s insurance, and/or a third-party insurer.
You may need to consult with a Riverside car accident attorney about your claim depending on the specifics of the accident, the parties involved, and the response from the insurer when you file a claim. The good news is that, as a ride share passenger, the odds are very high that someone else’s insurance company will cover your damages since you were not an at-fault party in the crash. Since you were actively riding as a passenger, it means the app was on and Uber or Lyft will provide insurance coverage for your damages.
The only time you might encounter issues or complexities with your insurance claim is if the ride share company tries to deny your claim for some reason, offer you less than your damages are worth, or if you have the ability to file a claim against more than one party.
When you are injured in an accident in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, some common complications may arise when you go to file an injury claim. Since these companies (mainly Uber and Lyft) do not consider their drivers to be employees, but independent contractors, they often use this designation to claim that they are not responsible for the reckless or negligent actions of the driver. The insurance companies often use this “contractor” designation to deny responsibility for your injury and refuse to pay your claim.
Also, when you utilize a ridesharing service, you are not hiring a professional driver with specialized training, you are usually getting in a car with an average person who may have just started to pick up some extra money. And since drivers are allowed to make their own hours and work as much as they want, the driver who picks you up may be tired, and their ability to properly operate the vehicle may be impaired.
Additional factors to consider are distractions behind the wheel and the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. Drivers for Uber and Lyft are required to use the services’ mobile apps to pick up fares and navigate to their destination. These apps may pose a significant distraction for the driver, and they may be involved in an accident if they do not pay attention to the road.
The boom in ride-hailing and similar services certainly represents a wave of change in the way that people and goods move through our cities. In many ways these rideshare services like Uber, Lyft, Alto, and others can make roads safer. Deterring drunk drivers, cutting back on heavy congestion and traffic, and efficiently using our road and vehicle resources are all benefits that users gain. But in some ways, these providers make things more dangerous.
Common causes of accidents in ridesharing or delivery drives have much in common with any automobile accident. However, the elevated usage of technology during the drives does escalate this risk of accident. Drivers need to stay available on the phone monitoring their current ride and arranging their next pickups. Additionally, drivers are frequently dependent on GPS directions to guide their exact route and location details, further dividing their attention away from the road. Additionally, drivers are not trained by Uber and Lyft, and many work long, irregular hours, all factors that contribute to greater likelihood of accident.
Some examples of cause for accident include:
Speeding – Especially unsafe on unfamiliar roads to drivers or in heavy pedestrian traffic areas
Driver Negligence – Paying attention to their phone instead of the road
Driver Error – Failure to stay in lane, maintain control of vehicle, or communicate to other drivers
Inebriated Driving – Avoiding drunk, drowsy or distracted drivers
Nighttime Visibility – Busy venues and bright lights paired with the challenges of night driving
Vehicle Malfunction – Faulty parts, failure to maintain
Road Environment – Weather Conditions, roadway debris
Road Congestion – High traffic and chaotic areas where there is most incentive for ride-hailing
The first step is to see whether everyone is okay after the accident. Your safety is important. You shouldn’t get out of the vehicle in the middle of a busy road. In case of injuries to anyone in the vehicle, call paramedics even if the injuries seem to be minor. Never disregard an injury just because it looks minor – it can be more serious than it appears. Having proof of injuries will also lay the proper foundation for your future personal injury claim. Any of these outcomes can result in tragic injury or even death.
Uber or Lyft Accident Liability
Unfortunately, it is oftentimes tougher to determine liability in ridesharing accidents. Uber and Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors, which is great for people who want to act as their own boss, but not great for those who are injured in these types of accidents. The breakdown of Uber and Lyft’s liability coverage is as follows:
Auto accidents are complicated. Smartphone apps now add a whole new layer into the mix. When an Uber or Lyft driver’s app is activated from his/her smartphone, one million dollars of insurance coverage should be available to compensate for damages and injuries. However, when that same driver’s app is not activated, he/she may be considered a regular, non-commercial driver.
Unless the driver’s insurance company has been informed in advance (and an updated policy is in place), most auto policies exclude coverage when the insured vehicle is used for a commercial venture – like driving for a rideshare company.
Uber’s insurance coverage changes depending on whether the Uber driver has a passenger in the car or is in-between customers. If an Uber driver causes an accident while there is a passenger in the car or while on the way to pick up a customer, Uber’s insurance policy will cover:
However, if the accident happens while the Uber driver has the app open and is waiting to match with a rider, the insurance policy coverage changes. In this case, Uber’s insurance policy will cover:
This coverage only applies if the driver’s own insurance is insufficient to cover all of your damages.
Lyft’s insurance coverage is almost the same as Uber’s coverage. If there is a customer in the car or if the driver is on the way to pick up a customer, Lyft’s insurance covers:
When the Lyft driver is between customers, that insurance coverage changes. If the driver is on duty but does not have a request for a pick up, Lyft’s insurance covers:
What Should You Do After a Rideshare Accident?
Whether you are a Lyft passenger or driver, you can take certain steps to protect your ability to collect compensation after a car accident. These steps do not differ much from any other auto accident:
After a ride share accident, it is essential to make sure the event is documented. For serious injuries especially, call 911 and immediately request emergency assistance to the scene. Document information about the drivers, vehicles, passengers, witnesses, and any others involved to the greatest extent you can, or in cooperation with Police direction. This information after all motor vehicle accidents is essential to ensuring justice is served and victims receive just compensation for their losses.
It is also good idea to be represented by an accident attorney after any car accident. If you or a loved one has suffered injury in an Uber or Lyft accident and have questions about seeking legal action, call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.