Uber/Lyft Lawsuits On the Raise, Be Prepared
With rideshare services like Uber and Lyft becoming increasingly popular, it’s only natural that eventually you may be in an accident if you rely on Uber or Lyft for transportation, or if you’re a driver for these services yourself. It is important to understand what insurance will cover while a passenger in a rideshare, as well as what insurance will cover when you are driving for a rideshare service. It is also advisable to retain a ridesharing accident lawyer like West Coast Trial Lawyers if there were any injuries involved to best protect yourself and ensure your injuries are taken care of if you were hurt, or to make sure the other party isn’t trying to exaggerate their injuries for a big payout.
Driving for a Rideshare:
When driving for a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft, these companies generally have their own insurance that covers all of their drivers. This insurance only covers their driver when on the clock, meaning they are on their way to pick up a ride or in transit with a passenger on board. This also covers when you’re online with Uber or Lyft waiting for a ride request. This insurance covers you even if you are at fault for the accident, or partially at fault in areas where comparative negligence law applies, and covers both liability for medical bill as well as for property damage. While limits vary from state to state, at a minimum this base insurance will cover the following:
-$50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident for bodily injury
-$25,000 per accident for property damage
If you are not at fault for the accident, you can make a claim through the other party’s insurance for your damages. Also, it is important to note that if you have your own personal insurance on the vehicle, your insurance may be considered excess if the terms of your insurance policy don’t exclude coverage in situations where your vehicle is being used as a rideshare. If you have your own personal insurance on the vehicle, consult your agent for more information on what your insurance may be able to do for you as well. Even if you are not covered, they may be able to offer sound advice on how to proceed after an accident.
When you are on your way to pick up a ride or in transit with someone in the vehicle, your coverage is slightly different from when you are waiting for a ride request to come through. When on a ride assignment, you have the following coverages available for applicable accidents:
-Third Party Liability Coverage
This coverage is what covers any damages to the other party you may be liable for. This includes property damage, as well bodily injury caused to your riders, pedestrians, or any other individuals involved. These coverage limits vary from state to state, but are generally at least $1,000,000 worth of overall coverage.
-Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage
This coverage is what covers you if you are in an accident where the other driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover the bodily injury damages caused in an accident they are liable for. This coverage can also be applied to hit and run accidents where the at fault party fled the scene and cannot be identified, or there is not enough evidence to prove their involvement if they are identified but claim to be uninvolved in the accident.
-Contingent Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
While this may vary from company to company, if you keep collision and comprehensive coverage current on your personal vehicle, some rideshare companies like Uber will provide their own collision and comprehensive coverage to your vehicle, with a $1,000 deductible which you are responsible for paying before any additional coverage may be applied.
Again, these coverages only apply when on the clock for a rideshare, so you would be covered under your own insurance when the vehicle is being used for personal use.
If You Are a Passenger in a Rideshare:
If you are a passenger in a rideshare, things can get a little more complicated. Most personal insurance policies have an exclusion for vehicles being used as rideshares or for business purposes, so the Uber or Lyft driver’s personal insurance will likely get you nowhere fast in terms of getting your bills paid for. Luckily, the Third Party Liability coverage mentioned above will cover your damages up to $1,000,000, but this will kick in once the driver’s personal insurance is exhausted if it’s even applicable.
That’s great if the rideshare driver is at fault, but what happens if the other driver is responsible? That is where things get a little trickier. In this case, you would have to file a claim through the other driver’s insurance, which can take some time tracking down if you don’t have all the necessary information. When you’re in an accident, the first thing you want to do is get the insurance information of all parties involved, or at least make sure a police report is being written and get the accident report number so you can request a copy of the report right online. The police report will have the policy and insurance information of all vehicles involved, including vehicle and driver information. This will make tracking down the other party’s insurance a lot easier. If it’s a hit and run or the other person is uninsured, that is where the Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage will kick in. In this case you’ll file through the rideshare insurance using that coverage, which applies up to $250,000 of coverage at minimum in most cases.
Then there’s the unfortunate case of whether or not this insurance will be enough to cover your medical bills in full. Depending on the severity of your accident and where your injuries are, medical bills and treatment can be both extensive, and expensive. In the event you are injured in an auto accident involving a rideshare, even if it is something that might seem small at first like mild stiffness or neck and back pain, you should look to retain either an Uber accident lawyer, Lyft accident lawyer, or ridesharing accident lawyer depending on the company the rideshare was working for.
Going through the company insurance is likely the best option for you to take if you were injured as a passenger. Almost any Uber accident lawyer or Lyft accident lawyer will recommend this option unless you are able to go after the driver directly, or if the other party was at fault. The lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers are experienced at this and will help guide you towards the right direction. This is because Uber and Lyft drivers are considered to be third party contractors rather than employees. Companies are generally liable for the actions of their employees, but this liability DOES NOT apply to independent contractors. This slight distinction makes it very difficult to pursue Uber and Lyft directly for damages, and while you may be able to prove some liability, you’d get more coverage out of going through the insurance rather than taking them to court. It is still wise to retain an attorney though as there are other curveballs that might come up through the process of determining liability, figuring out which coverage applies to your damages, as well as identifying all of the involved parties. The early stages of the claim process can be the most time consuming, especially with multiple vehicles and multiple accounts of the accident which may or may not all conflict with one another. Having a lawyer to help will not only mean less legwork for you in sorting out who to file a claim with and what to do next, but also will help put some pressure on the insurance companies involved to try to speed the process along.