What if I’m Injured in a Rideshare Accident?
Move over, taxis – these days, rideshare apps are the transportation method of choice for those of us who need to hitch a ride. According to a 2018 survey, 36% of US adults and 51% of Americans age 18 to 29 have used ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft at least once. While rideshare services have received plenty of understandable criticism, one important issue often fails to get media attention – what will happen if you’re injured in an accident involving a rideshare driver? Contact the Don Turner Legal Team if you have been injured in a rideshare accident and see how an experienced personal injury attorney can help you.
The First Steps to Take After a Rideshare Accident
You should handle a rideshare accident much like you would handle an accident in your own private vehicle. Call 911 to report the accident, and tell the operator your name, your location, and how many vehicles seem to be involved. If possible, use your phone to take photographs of the crash scene and any damaged vehicles. You will also want to get the name and information of your Uber or Lyft rideshare driver as well as the names, contact information, and insurance information of anyone else involved or injured in the accident. You will also want to collect the contact information for any witnesses to the accident or injury. All of this information will prove to be instrumental in your lawyer or attorney’s handling of your rideshare accident injury.
Limit yourself to the facts of the rideshare accident when speaking with police – do not speculate about what happened to cause the accident or who might have been at fault. Make sure to seek medical attention after your accident, even if you do not believe you’ve been seriously injured. Many injuries can take weeks to show themselves and the rideshare auto insurance companies could use your failure to promptly seek medical attention for any injuries from the accident against you. In this instance, if injuries are later found you could be suffering any damages out of your own pocket!
What Makes Rideshare Accidents Different?
In order for a personal injury attorney to prove someone is at fault for an auto accident, you need to prove that the person involved breached their duty of care to drive carefully and obey traffic laws and that you were injured and suffered damages as a result of that breach. For an injury lawyer to determine fault in a rideshare accident is very similar in that regard. However, something makes rideshare accidents a little different from normal auto accidents – the role that the company’s (such as Uber and Lyft) insurance plays when you seek compensation.
Usually, when you’re involved in or injured in a car accident, the at-fault driver has a personal auto insurance policy that you can file a claim with, allowing you to be compensated for any injuries and damages you may have suffered. However, most rideshare drivers do not have a commercial insurance policy that could cover any injuries you suffer if you are injured while they are acting as a for-profit driver. Additionally, their personal insurance policy will likely have a “business use exception”, which will not cover any injuries or damages that occur while they are using their car as a company vehicle for Lyft or Uber.
The good news is that Uber and Lyft both carry third-party auto liability insurance, which can pay up to $1,000,000 for damages and/or injuries per accident. As a rideshare passenger, you are protected under these insurance policies, which go into effect once the driver has exhausted their own coverage. That is, of course, if their insurance policy applies to accidents that occur while they are acting as a rideshare driver.
The bad news is that the amount of coverage you will receive for your damages or injury(s) is entirely dependent on the rideshare driver’s circumstances at the time of the accident. If they were not logged into the Lyft or Uber app at the time of the accident, no company coverage will be provided, and their auto insurance may or may not cover your injuries. If they are logged in but have not received a ride request, Uber and Lyft will provide liability coverage of up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 total liability per auto accident.
Uber and Lyft’s liability coverage increases to up to $1,000,000 once the driver has accepted a ride and is traveling to the pick-up location. This maximum limit also applies when a customer is in their vehicle, in addition to limited coverage for any damage to the driver’s car and uninsured motorist coverage.
Can I Sue Uber or Lyft for an Accident Resulting in Injury or Damages?
While suing the rideshare company for injury(s) or damages directly is another option available to you in theory, in practice, it’s a very murky place from a legal perspective. Uber and Lyft have fought hard for their rideshare drivers to be considered independent contractors that are not employed by the rideshare companies. This is an important distinction for insurance purposes, as while a company can be held liable for the actions of its employees, it cannot be held liable for the actions of its independent contractors. This makes it more difficult to argue that the rideshare company has any share of the blame for a rideshare accident resulting in damages and/or injury.
Accidents involving rideshare vehicles can be complex due to Uber and Lyft’s company policies, making personal injury claims more difficult to navigate. That’s why you want a skilled personal injury attorney on your side. If you have been injured in an accident involving a rideshare driver, whether as a passenger, a pedestrian, or the driver of another vehicle, now is not the time to go it alone. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today for a free consultation and let our team of experience lawyers help you get the compensation you deserve.