Just as with all forms of travel, there is a risk of injury involved with using an Uber or Lyft service. Getting into an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft can be confusing, and you are probably unsure of your rights in the situation. If you have any injuries, is your Uber or Lyft driver responsible for your medical bills? Or is the other driver responsible? What about the rideshare company? An accident like this is not nearly as cut-and-dry as a regular car crash.
Uber Insurance Coverage for Passengers
In fact, Uber and Lyft each have their own insurance policies to protect drivers and their passengers in the event of an accident. The level of coverage varies depending on the circumstances; for example, a driver is still covered if they are accepting trips but not currently with a passenger, but there is a greater amount of coverage if the driver is on a trip.
The amount of coverage the rideshare company provides depends on whether or not the driver was “working” at the time of the accident, and if so, in what capacity. See examples of the following scenarios:
· The driver is not logged into the Lyft or Uber app. If the driver is not logged in when the accident occurs, he or she is not technically employed by Uber or Lyft at that time, which is why the rideshare company is not obligated to provide coverage.
· The driver was logged in, but had not yet accepted the ride request. Before a driver accepts a ride request, he or she can only receive minimal liability coverage if a crash occurs. Although each company’s policy may vary, this coverage is usually around $100,000, and covers injury liability for all parties involved in one accident, plus an additional $25,000 to cover property damage.
· If the driver was logged in and accepted a ride request. Once a ride request is accepted and the driver is driving towards the passenger’s location, the rideshare company’s coverage immediately increases. In some policies, the coverage jumps to $1 million but may vary.
· If the driver was logged in and was fulfilling a ride request. When the rideshare driver has passengers in the vehicle and is in the process of driving them to their chosen destination, the liability limit is also set at an average of $1 million. Additionally, the policy may also cover damage to the rideshare driver’s car and coverage for uninsured motorist accidents.
Although Uber and Lyft are independent companies, the adopt very similar policies when it comes to determining if drivers qualify for insurance coverage and, when they do, how much. The rates listed above generally apply to both rideshare companies, though they may vary depending on other factors at play.
What if I’m Driving and Get into an Accident with an Uber or Lyft?
An accident involving a rideshare vehicle is a little more complicated if you are not the Uber/Lyft driver or rider, but you are still involved in the crash. These accidents are subject to the same questions of fault that arise following any car accident, but the inclusion of a third-party company makes the answer slightly murky. It can be even more complex when you consider that the other car still belongs to the owner, so it is not the same as getting into an accident with, say, a company vehicle like a delivery truck.
Several studies indicate that the increased popularity of rideshare applications has led to an upswing in traffic-related accidents. See the statistics below:
· Ridesharing has led to a 2-3% increase in traffic-related fatalities between 2011 and 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis (NHTSA) Reporting System.
· An estimated 1,000 people die in rideshare accidents each year, according to the data collected by the NHTSA.
Uber and Lyft’s insurance policies do not cover non-employees and non-customers, so this is a case where personal insurance policies would come into play. Rideshare drivers are technically considered to be independent contractors, so Uber and Lyft have little responsibility outside of the insurance they provide for accidents involving their drivers. Although the supposed involvement of rideshare companies presents a seemingly legal “gray area,” most accidents involving an Uber or Lyft proceed similarly to any car accident and require the support of individual insurance.
Regardless of your role in the crash and the level of support provided by the involved rideshare company, it is always critical to seek the assistance of a lawyer after a car accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can offer the support you need during this difficult time. Navigating the aftermath of a car accident is a confusing, emotionally trying, and financially exhausting experience — call us today for a free consultation.