Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services have exploded in popularity in recent years. In many cities, taxi companies have taken a major hit as more and more people opt for the simplicity of ordering a car from an app instead of tracking down a cab. The driver rating systems on these apps can help us make sure we’re with trustworthy drivers, but sometimes ride-share accidents still happen.
If you’ve recently been injured in an accident involving an Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare vehicle, you may be wondering about your legal options. Determining who is liable depends on the circumstances of your crash.
Uber & Lyft Insurance Policies
If you’re riding as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft and the driver gets into an accident that was their fault, you’ll be covered under the company’s liability policy – which sets damages at a maximum of $1 million. This means that all damages related to your accident and injuries would be covered, up to a maximum of $1 million.
In situations where a passenger needs to file a lawsuit for additional financial compensation, the lawsuit would be directly filed against the driver. Rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors, which means you can’t sue the company in the same way you could if they were considered employees. Holding companies liable for the actions of independent contractors is generally much more difficult than holding them liable for the actions of their employees.
Legal Options for Injured Rideshare Passengers
Responding after an accident as a rideshare passenger is similar to how you should respond to any other car accident. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Call 911
- Take photos of the scene
- Talk to witnesses and gather their names, email addresses, and phone numbers
- Record the driver’s name
- Take screenshots of the rideshare app and receipt on your phone
- Consider calling a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured
- Seek medical attention, even if you don’t think you need it. Some injuries don’t appear right away.
As mentioned above, if the accident was your driver’s fault, you’ll be covered under the company’s insurance policy. Additional damages, if necessary, can be recovered by filing a lawsuit against the driver directly.
If another motorist was responsible for causing the accident, you would likely recover damages from that motorist’s insurance plan. If that motorist was uninsured, both Uber and Lyft also have $1 million underinsured motorist policies that may apply to your case.
In rare cases of extreme negligence, you may be able to sue the company directly. For example, a rideshare company failing to do a proper background check and hiring a driver with a history of drunk driving who later causes an accident while intoxicated may be considered negligent.
Non-Passenger Rideshare Accident Liability
Determining liability becomes slightly more complicated if you were the driver of another vehicle and got into an accident with a rideshare vehicle.
If the rideshare driver had a passenger at the time of the accident, damages would likely be covered under the company’s $1 million insurance policy.
In cases where the driver was off-duty or on-duty but without a passenger, the situation would likely be handled like any other car accident. If the other driver was at fault, you’d make a claim with their insurance company and seek any necessary additional damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Pedestrian Struck by Rideshare Vehicle
The same rules for non-passenger rideshare accident liability generally apply to pedestrians who are struck by rideshare vehicles. The company’s insurance policy will likely cover your damages up to $1 million if the driver was on-duty with a passenger. If the driver was off-duty or without a passenger, then you’d likely be dealing with that driver’s personal insurance company.
Regardless of your situation, it’s best to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer soon after being involved in a rideshare accident. The legality of these cases can be complicated, so it’s important to have legal guidance from someone with experience with these types of cases. This is the best way to ensure you recover the full financial compensation you deserve.
Laurence Banville. Esq is the managing partner and face of Banville Law, a personal injury law firm in New York City where his team of accident, personal injury, and defective product lawyers advocate for the rights of injury victims.Originally from Ireland, Banville moved to the United States of America where he worked at law firms, refining his litigation and brief writing crafts. He is also the recipient of the Irish Legal 100 and the Top 40 Under 40 awards.