Uber/Lyft: What You Need To Know If You Are Injured In A Rideshare Crash
Companies such as Uber and Lyft introduced to the world what is now a growing trend throughout the United States; rideshare companies. Just like most new trends, new legal questions are sure to arise as well when it comes to the safety and protection of passengers.
If you aren’t familiar with rideshares, this convenient driver-for-hire service is provided through a smartphone application and is often cheaper than a traditional taxi. The rideshare process is quite simple, you request a ride on your phone, and within minutes you are on the road. Once you arrive at your destination, simply exit the vehicle and continue with your day while the app handles payment automatically.
There’s no doubt that rideshare companies are easy to use, but what many customers don’t consider is how these services operate when it comes to the protection their customers in the event of a car crash.
Rideshare Auto Accidents On The Rise
Rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, contract freelance drivers to transport customers in their personal vehicle. Injuries to consumers involving rideshare drivers are on the rise, and it may be due to inadequate background-checks for drivers.
Uber or Lyft drivers are screened before being allowed to operate. They are required to provide basic information including date of birth, Social Security number, and driver’s license number, a copy of driver’s license, insurance, vehicle registration and proof of a completed vehicle inspection. Unlike taxi companies, rideshare companies go through a third party provider to run a background check by running the potential driver’s name against the national sex offender database, against public records database, and against driver records.
Although the process may seem thorough, it is not 100 percent accurate. Some records are looked over while others are completely missed. Taxi drivers are not only required to go through these background checks, but they must also go through a fingerprint scanning process.
How Rideshare Companies Deny Your Injury Claims
Rideshare companies claim their drivers are not employees; they are independent contractors. The differentiation may be a reason for the company to deny your claim if you are injured in an accident while using a rideshare service. If an independent contractor causes a personal injury, the victim may not be able to sue the company because courts only hold companies responsible for the actions of their employees based on strict liability laws. Conclusively, this will lead to a smaller settlement for the victim.
When it comes to Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft, the question of liability is complicated. Various factors will determine who is liable in an Uber or Lyft collision. The main determining factor will depend on whether or not the driver is logged on to his rideshare company’s app. If they are logged in to the app, is the driver on standby for a ride request or actively giving a ride?
The Texas Insurance Code Chapter 1954 requires rideshare drivers to carry specific insurance policies that provide coverage regardless of their activity. Keep in mind policies may range from state to state.
Does Personal Insurance Cover The Crash?
The driver’s personal insurance company will be responsible for covering the driver if he or she is involved in a car crash while off the clock. On the other hand, if the driver was logged onto the rideshare app, it would need to be determined if the driver was in between rides or actively transporting a customer.
Was The Uber or Lyft Driver Between Rides or Transporting?
This is where it may get tricky. Although coverage is required, no requirement outlines who must cover the driver. Coverage on drivers using their personal vehicles for ridesharing purposes is many times excluded by many insurance companies. Since rideshare companies are not required to provide additional coverage, they are hesitant to begin doing so.
If the driver is logged into the app but does not have a ride request, Uber and Lyft provide liability coverage to those who were injured or had their property damaged in a crash caused by an Uber or Lyft driver. The liability coverage pays the following:
- Supplemental coverage up to $100,000 in injury liability per accident (the most Uber and Lyft will pay for all injuries resulting from a crash caused by an Uber or Lyft driver)
- $25,000 in property damage liability
It is important to note these policies only come into play if the driver’s personal insurance policy won’t fully cover your damages. The coverage provided by Uber and Lyft is limited to injury liability and property damage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UI/UIM) is not included. This means there may be a gap in coverage if the rideshare passenger is injured by another at-fault driver who is uninsured or underinsured.
Was The Uber or Lyft Driver Engaged In A Ride?
Uber or Lyft’s $1 million liability and UI/UIM policies only apply once the rideshare driver accepts a fare on a ridesharing app. If the rideshare driver was not at fault, you would need to file a claim against the driver’s insurance who caused the crash.
Was The Uber or Lyft Driver Logged Out?
Uber and Lyft insurance policies will only cover drivers when they are logged into their ridesharing apps. If you are involved in a crash with a rideshare driver who is not logged into their app, his or her personal insurance would be liable for your injuries.
Should I Handle My Uber Insurance Claim On My Own?
Ridesharing is still a relatively new concept, and regulations have yet to catch up, so it can get complicated when trying to determine liability. It is in your best interest to seek the legal guidance of a skilled attorney who will help you obtain necessary documents and evidence to prove fault. By filing a claim, you may be eligible to recover:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Other losses related to your injuries
Without a seasoned attorney who is familiar with the tactics insurance companies use, it will be almost impossible to get the insurance company to pay you the full value of your claim. The insurance company will try and trick you into giving a statement that will be detrimental to your case and will offer you a cheap settlement after they have stalled the process.
Don’t wait too long to file your claim. Not only will the insurance company benefit from you delaying to file a claim, there is also a statute of limitations in Texas of two years to file a lawsuit for a motor vehicle accident. This means that if you don’t file a claim within the two-year deadline, you are giving up your right to sue. Don’t give the insurance company more time to try to diminish the value of your case.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
If you have been injured in a car crash involving a rideshare driver, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain, suffering, and other losses related to your injury. Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we have a team of skilled attorneys, nurses and private investigators ready to help prove liability to get you maximum compensation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.
- Written by Adriana Torres