Rideshare Accidents

Rideshare Accidents

You are driving along when suddenly you get hit by a Lyft, or Uber driver.  Or, maybe you are a passenger in a Lyft or Uber when your driver gets into an accident.  You are injured.  Or, your property is damaged.  What do you do next?  It is not always easy to understand how rideshare driving affects your personal injury or accident. 

How do Lyft and Uber work?

Uber and Lyft are everywhere.  They are similar to taxi services in that they provide rides for people.  But, unlike taxi services, they do not own, operate, or control the cars.  Also, they do not “hire” the drivers, strictly speaking.  In fact, in California these drivers are independent contractors, thanks to Prop 22.  Now, unlike cabs, Uber and Lyft customers cannot just “hail” a driver on the side of the road.  They must use their smartphone app to arrange for a pickup.  

Who pays if you are hurt by a Lyft or Uber driver? 

In every car accident case, the person bringing the claim must prove:

  1. They were damaged; and
  2. The other side was at fault for the damage. 

When you are in a regular car accident, you can start by filing a third party claim against the driver’s car insurance carrier for damages.  But, when the other driver is driving for money, things get a little more complicated.  The driver’s personal car insurance policy probably will not cover the accident unless the driver has a commercial policy, or the driver purchased a “ride-sharing endorsement”.  Odds are against the driver having purchased either of those.  And, since the driver is not driving for personal use, and his or her insurance contract probably says they he or she will only be covered for personal use, the insurance carrier will likely deny the claim if the accident occurred while the rideshare driver was transporting a passenger. 

Fortunately, Uber and Lyft have responded (because government made them), by offering liability insurance to their drivers, which kicks in when the driver’s carrier denies the claim.  Lyft and Uber require that drivers submit their claim to their insurance companies first, because if they can keep themselves off the hook, they are going to.  But, assuming a Lyft or Uber driver is at fault for your injuries, it is possible to hold Lyft or Uber financially responsible. 

What type of insurance do Lyft/Uber carry for their drivers?

Both Uber and Lyft provide insurance for their drivers.  The insurance coverage is pretty similar for both.  The insurance coverage differs based on when the accident occurs. 

  • Period 0 is when the driver is not logged into Lyft or Uber.  If the accident occurs during Period 0, then Uber and Lyft provide no coverage.   
  • Period 1 is when the driver is logged on to the app, but has not accepted a ride yet.  At the time this is being written, Uber/Lyft provide up to $50,000 per person injured in an accident, and $100,000 total injury liability per accident, and $25,000 for property damage liability when the driver is in Period 1. 
  • Period 2 is when the driver has accepted a trip and is on his/her way to pick up the passenger.  Liability coverage increases to $1 million in Period 2.
  • Period 3 is when the rider is in the car, ending at drop-off.  Liability coverage increases to $1 million, plus limited coverage for damage to the driver’s car, and uninsured motorist’ coverage.   

What do I do if I have been in a Lyft/Uber accident?

First, make sure you are safe.  Once you make sure you are safe, get the names, contact information, and insurance details of everyone involved, and ask any witnesses for their contact information.  Next, take as many pictures of the accident scene as you can.  Take pictures of the cars, and the scene.  Take pictures of the damage.  Take pictures from further away.  Take pictures from close.  Take pictures from different angles.  If you can, narrate a little video of your experience, walking through the scene, or what you remember.  Make sure these photos won’t get lost easily.  If you take them on your phone, email them to yourself, or at the very least, back them up to the cloud.  You should also call the police.  They will investigate.  Help them investigate.  Make sure they have their facts straight.  Next, request a copy of the police report. 

If you have been seriously injured, or there is significant property damage, you should probably talk to a lawyer, who is experienced in handling personal injury matters.  We offer a free, confidential, case evaluation.  The case evaluation goes straight to top personal injury attorney, John McCarthy’s inbox.  Attorney McCarthy, reviews and responds to every inquiry within 24-48 hours.  If we think we are in a position to help, we will reach out to schedule a free consultation.  If we decide to take on your case, we will probably represent you on a contingency fee basis, meaning we will only get paid a percentage of whatever we collect for you.  If we do not think we are in a position to help, we will provide you with resources to help you understand the law, find an attorney, and even DIY.  There are strict deadlines within which you must file any lawsuit for personal injuries.  The exact deadlines vary from case to case.  But, most come up quick.  So, you should reach out as soon as possible.  What do you have to lose?


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