When you are driving your own car and end up in a car accident, it’s not always easy to know who is responsible — you or the other driver. When you are taking a rideshare vehicle, it becomes even more confusing. With an average of 6 million car accidents happening every year, rideshare accidents are bound to happen. Hopefully, you won’t be involved in one. But if you are, it’s important to be prepared. Whether you are driving a rideshare car or riding in one, it’s important that you know who holds responsibility should an accident occur. Continue reading and we will walk you through everything you need to know about rideshare auto accidents.
Rideshare Auto Accidents Are Unique
In a private auto accident, there are usually only two parties involved. But in a rideshare accident, there is also the rideshare driver as well as the rideshare company. When a person drives for a rideshare company, that person needs to have their own personal coverage for their vehicle. The driver also needs special insurance if they are using their car for commercial purposes, such as ridesharing. And in most cases the ridesharing company provides insurance coverage as well. However, the rideshare driver is not a direct employee of the rideshare company. Uber and Lyft see their drivers as independent contractors. The rideshare companies simply provide a platform that the drivers use to work from.
If You Get Hit by a Rideshare Driver
If you end up in an accident with a rideshare driver, you would still have to prove the two things that you have to do in any accident.
First, you must show that the other driver was liable. Second, you need to prove what the damages are.
If the Uber or Lyft driver was the negligent party, then you would go after them. Normally, they would refer the claim to their insurance.
The problem is that some rideshare drivers only have insurance for personal use driving. When the insurance company finds out that the accident happened during commercial use, the insurance company may deny coverage for the claim.
Fortunately, Lyft and Uber now offer liability insurance to their drivers. This insurance comes into play even if the rideshare driver’s insurance carrier denies the claim. The driver must first submit the claim to their personal insurance carrier before they can activate Uber or Lyft’s insurance. This is especially helpful as researchers are learning that ridesharing is not necessarily making the streets safer.
Lyft/Uber Insurance Policies
Uber and Lyft have very similar insurance policies for their drivers, and the policy coverage depends on when the accident actually occurs.
Period 0 is when the driver isn’t logged into the Lyft/Uber app.
In this case, Lyft/Uber will not provide any coverage.
Period 1 is when the driver is logged into the app but they haven’t yet accepted a ride request.
In this circumstance, Lyft/Uber will provide liability coverage when their driver is at fault.
However, this is usually limited to $25,000 in property damage, $50,000 per person injury, and $100,000 total injury liability per accident.
In Period 2, the rideshare driver is on the way to pick up a passenger. The liability coverage here usually increases to $1 million.
Finally, in Period 3, when the passenger is in the car, the liability coverage is usually $1 million, with limited coverage for damage to the rideshare driver’s car, as well as potentially uninsured motorists’ coverage if the accident is the fault of the other driver (not the rideshare driver).
What to Do After a Rideshare Auto Accident
After you get into a rideshare accident, you will want to get the names, insurance info, and contact details of everyone involved. You also want to take as many pictures of the vehicles and the accident scene as you can. If you’ve sustained any injuries, take photos of those, too. You’ll want as much fresh evidence as possible before you leave the area.
If there are any witnesses nearby who saw the accident, be sure to speak with them and get their contact information as well. Next, you’ll want to call the police. Although you will want to speak to your insurance company and call the rideshare company, you can wait until you have contacted an attorney before doing so. Your attorney can assist with these calls and ensure that you have counsel if you end up needing to provide a recorded statement.
Although these rideshare businesses are well-established, they are still relatively new. Many legal problems can arise with these companies and many are still being worked out in the courts.
Because of this, it would be wise to retain the services of a personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you deal with the insurance and rideshare companies and help you seek the maximum recovery for your damages.
The Importance of Understanding Liability
Whether you are a rideshare driver, a private driver on the road, or just a rider using an app to get to a location, you can feel a little better when the unexpected strikes.
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