Uber and Lyft, the two prominent rideshare services in America, have exploded into the mainstream of transportation options over the last few years, especially in many major cities. These services provide a measure of convenience, reasonable pricing and easy arranging through mobile-device apps, which make them in some cases a superior choice to taxicabs or public transportation.
While ridesharing has become more popular ad there have been more and more rideshares taking place, there are reports of more and more Uber and Lyft drivers getting involved in auto accidents.
An auto accident that involves an Uber or Lyft driver can be a bit more complicated than a regular car accident involving two personal vehicles. A rideshare service is a hybrid of a passenger car and a taxi that carries fares.
As rideshare accidents are becoming less unusual, they do seem to be occurring at a rate that exceeds taxicabs, perhaps partly due to different regulatory requirements.
Uber and Lyft Liability Insurance
If and when you are involved in an Uber or Lyft rideshare accident, the level of liability insurance that is at play is valuable information in case there needs to be a claim.
Each company has differing coverages, but their one common thread is that they require their drivers carry the minimum liability insurance required by the state in which they operate. The company policy is an umbrella liability policy, which means it kicks in only after the driver’s personal liability limit is exceeded for any claim, and there is an additional deductible payment above and beyond the driver’s personal coverage. The company policies are in force when the driver is using the app and is going toward or handling a ride. The coverage ends when that ride ends at the passenger is clear of the vehicle.
Rideshare Accident Liability
Both rideshare companies say their policies are to do a background and driving check for all their drivers. The catch is, though, that the driving record usually only applies over the last seven years of history.
What happens if there is an accident involving an active Uber or Lyft ride? Where does the liability fall?
As with most accidents, though, the important steps are to check for any injuries, call 911 if necessary, then contact local authorities to start the process of filing a report. While you may collect insurance and contact information of all involved drivers, only an official investigation by local authorities can untangle the liability issues. If you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, especially an Uber or Lyft contractor vehicle, liability limits could be determined by getting answers to these key investigative questions:
- Does the driver have the minimum required liability coverage?
- Was the driver using the proper rideshare app at the time of the accident?
- What is the driver’s actual driving record (even more than seven years past)?
Various state courts have developed some differing interpretations of the state ridesharing laws and regulations in terms of determining liability in vehicle accidents. A rideshare passenger can hold the driver responsible for any injuries, and the company could be liable as well if there was reason to believe that the company was negligent in properly screening the driver’s history or insurance coverage. In virtually all cases, the driver is the first line of liability along with any other drivers that were involved in the accident.
Know Your Rideshare Rights
Uber and Lyft drivers have a higher risk of liability as rideshare drivers than they might as their regular personal-vehicle drivers, and certainly more than most taxi drivers who are employed by a taxi company and thus are covered more directly by company insurance. Uber and Lyft drivers are considered freelance contractors, not employees of the rideshare company. The liability for an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver my cover cover the driver’s personal liability coverage, but also impact the umbrella coverage that the companies have on their drivers when they are “on the clock” using the app.
If you are injured as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft accident, you must get effective medical care and get advice from an experienced auto-accident attorney who knows the ridesharing laws in your area and can provide you with the best defense of your rights as a consumer of rideshare services.’
Guest Post Authored By a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer