Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing services have become increasingly common in most major cities. Passengers arrange for rides by interacting with an app on their smartphones, and the drivers are independent contractors who use their personal vehicles to transport paying customers between locations. When drivers are actively working, the services refer to them as being on the app. When they are not on the app, drivers typically use their vehicles for their personal transportation needs. This relatively new business model has created numerous issues for city and state governments, but it has also created some major headaches for insurance companies as well as attorneys who handle personal injury cases.
How Does Insurance Work When the Negligent Party Drives for Uber or Lyft?
In some ways, being in an accident with a Lyft or an Uber driver is not unlike being in an accident with any other driver. Your compensation depends on your property damages and the severity of your injuries. For example, you will not be awarded $40,000 to purchase a new car if a reputable body shop can repair yours for $1,000, and you likely would not receive a substantial award for a broken fingernail or other minor injury that resulted in no lost wages or significant medical bills. As with all car accidents, it will also be necessary to prove who was to blame for the accident and the degree to which each driver contributed to the accident. One driver may be assigned 100% of the blame for the collision, or a portion of the blame may be assigned to each driver involved in the accident.
If your car is in an accident with someone who drives for a ride-hailing service, the driver ‘s insurance company is the obvious first choice. However, if the driver was on the app, his or her personal insurance policy may not provide coverage. Most personal policies specify that the vehicle will be operated only for personal use, so the carrier may deny the claim if the accident occurs while the driver is using it to earn money. Some drivers purchase endorsements or commercial policies, though, so you should not be too quick to assume that you will need to seek compensation from another source.
Both Lyft and Uber provide their drivers with liability coverage to supplement the policies carried by the individual drivers. However, if the driver is not on the app, there is no supplemental coverage provided by the ride-hailing service. If a driver on the app has not accepted a request for a ride, the supplemental policy has a limit of $50,000 per person or $100,000 for two or more people injured in the same accident. The limits increase to $1 million if the driver is traveling to pick up a passenger or has a rider in his or her car. Before Lyft or Uber will pay, however, the driver must first file a claim with his or her insurance company.
What Should You Do After an Accident?
Most of the steps you should take after an accident involving a Lyft or an Uber driver are the same ones you should take after any car accident, and all of these steps depend on your mobility or cognizance. If the extent of your injuries makes it difficult or impossible to perform any of the following actions, you can seek help from a passenger in your vehicle, people who witnessed the accident, or drivers who merely stopped to see if they could assist.
1. Report the accident to the police. A police report can be a vital piece of evidence, especially if the other driver is associated with Lyft or Uber.
2. Get the other driver’s name, insurance details, and contact information. Record the license plate number of the other vehicle.
3. Collect the names and phone numbers or other contact information from any eyewitnesses to the accident. Be sure to collect information from the passengers in the other vehicle if there were any passengers. However, because Uber and Lyft drivers also use their vehicles for personal reasons, do not assume that these passengers automatically prove that the driver was on the app at the time of the accident.
4. Take pictures of the vehicles and the accident scene from as many angles as possible. Include any features that might be relevant, including center lane markings, stop signs, traffic lights, and yield signs.
5. Never make any statements at the scene that admit or imply that you were responsible for the accident. Although you must provide the police officer investigating the scene with truthful answers, you should never volunteer any information.
6. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Whether you visit an emergency room or your physician’s office, the fact that you sought immediate attention can bolster your claim. Furthermore, physicians can often identify potentially serious injuries that may not have manifested symptoms that you would recognize as indicative of an injury you sustained in the accident.
7. Contact a reputable attorney with experience handling car accidents. Due to the relative newness of ride-hailing services, the courts are still working out the issues of assigning liability to the appropriate parties. An experienced attorney will be current on any changes in the legal system or the insurance industry.
At Lloyd Baker Powerhouse Injury Attorneys, we have chosen to focus our practice on matters pertaining to personal injury law. We understand that you are going through a trying time, and we are willing to use our extensive experience to assist you. We offer free case consultations, and we do not get paid our fee until you get paid through a settlement or judgment for you. If your accident happened in Arizona, you can call us in Phoenix at 602-265-5555; if your accident happened in Nevada, you can call us in Las Vegas at 702-444-2222. We also have a chat feature and a contact form on our website that you can use.