Uber and Lyft are the most popular rideshare companies that people use to travel around the Denver area. By downloading and installing an Uber or Lyft app onto a smartphone, passengers can schedule a ride to the airport, a restaurant, work, or other places around town. With Uber and Lyft, even the person everyone relies on as a “designated driver” can now enjoy the nightlife without having to worry about safely driving others home.
The process of getting a ride from an Uber or Lyft driver is quite simple. But, getting involved in a rideshare accident has the potential to become a complicated ordeal. Why? Primarily because Uber and Lyft drivers are not company employees but independent contractors who drive their own vehicles. Generally, employers are not responsible for the actions of independent contractors.
So, what happens when an injury accident occurs involving an Uber or Lyft vehicle? Whose insurance company pays for the medical bills and other expenses of the injured driver, passenger, or pedestrian? Let’s take a closer look at insurance coverage for Uber and Lyft.
Understanding Insurance Coverage in an Uber or Lyft Ridesharing Accident
Uber and Lyft each carry $1 million in commercial insurance to cover drivers and passengers in the event of an accident. But, whether Uber or Lyft will pay after an accident depends on several factors, such as:
Whether the driver’s rideshare app was on at the time of the accident
Who is at fault for the crash
Whether the driver’s personal car insurance is sufficient enough or not to cover damages from the accident
Insurance coverage from rideshare companies wasn’t clear until a tragedy happened in 2013 when an Uber driver in San Francisco struck and killed a 6-year-old girl as she was crossing in a crosswalk. The girl’s family held the Uber driver and Uber responsible for the child’s death.
Uber, however, denied liability by claiming that the driver did not have a passenger and was not en route to pick up a passenger at the time of the accident. After the crash, Uber expanded its insurance policy to cover the gap that occurs when a driver is logged into the Uber system and is available for a ride but does not have a passenger.
Uber—as well as Lyft—now provides insurance coverage if an accident happens when the driver is:
Available and waiting for a passenger to schedule a ride
On the way to pick up a passenger
During a trip with a passenger
A driver’s personal auto insurance covers an accident if the driver is not logged into the rideshare system and the driver’s app is off. While Uber and Lyft may have narrowed the insurance gap, it’s important that passengers obtain the information necessary to build a solid claim for compensation.
What Passengers Should Do in a Rideshare Accident
Uber and Lyft passengers should treat a rideshare accident just as they do an accident involving their own personal vehicle:
1. Check to see if anyone was injured. A passenger can dial 9-1-1 if the drivers and other passengers are not physically able to—or do not want to—call.
2. Take photos or videos of the accident scene. Visuals provide proof of injuries, damages to vehicles, and road conditions.
3. Get the contact information for the Uber or Lyft driver, the other driver involved, and witnesses, if possible.
4. Wait for the police to arrive. The responding officer will take statements from the drivers, passengers, and possible witnesses. Having a police report is useful when filing an insurance claim.
5. Seek medical attention immediately. Passengers who cannot immediately go to the emergency room should wait no longer than three days after the accident to get checked out. If a passenger later files an injury claim, an insurance company may contend that the injury was not serious because the passenger did not immediately seek medical attention.
Even when a rideshare passenger has information to submit for insurance claim purposes, there are no guarantees that the insurers for Uber, Lyft or the driver will pay out the claim.
Insurance Companies Wrangle Over Fault
Insurance companies will investigate an Uber or Lyft accident just as they would a crash involving non-rideshare vehicles. Without a doubt, an insurer will delay a payout until it determines fault. So, if the rideshare driver and the other driver deny fault for causing the accident, a passenger may not receive compensation anytime soon.
Why? For one, Uber and Lyft will not hesitate to protect themselves from liability. So, that leaves drivers and insurers passing blame. In the meantime, passengers will not get compensated for their losses. Rather than going back-and-forth with insurance companies, passengers should consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to represent their best interests.
Making Sure Your Rights Are Protected
After reviewing the facts of the accident, a personal injury attorney can help passengers determine the value of their claim and recover a fair amount for their losses. What’s more, a lawyer may discover that Uber or Lyft’s insurance applies if:
The cost for the passenger’s injuries and other damages exceed the rideshare driver’s insurance policy limit
The driver who caused the accident does not have insurance
Besides that, a lawyer can negotiate a fair settlement because an insurer typically offers low initial settlements. Unfortunately, once a settlement is accepted, the injured party cannot ask for more compensation should problems arise in the future.
If you were injured or your loved one suffered an injury in an Uber or Lyft accident, contact a personal injury attorney at Springer & Steinberg in Denver. We are dedicated to helping our clients recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, and other losses resulting from a rideshare accident.
Contact Springer & Steinberg at (303) 861-2800 to schedule your no-fee, no obligation consultation.