Who Is Liable for a Car Accident While Riding in an Uber or Lyft?

Ridesharing App

Over the past several years, the transportation industry has seen one of its most drastic changes with ridesharing apps such as Uber or Lyft. And they have been positive changes; just a few clicks on your smartphone brings a driver and their vehicle to you, essentially taking you to wherever you need to go. But because they fall in between personal and commercial driving, the question of who is liable should a ridesharing vehicle get into a car accident is an important one that needs to be addressed.

Getting into an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver can be a complex situation. Whether you were driving your own vehicle and the ridesharing driver caused the accident, or you were a passenger in the Uber or Lyft, you likely would have many questions concerning your rights as well as who is liable. Here are a few important things to know should these situations ever occur:

  • Drivers for Uber or Lyft are required to have their own personal car insurance, specifically for when they are not using their ridesharing apps.
  • You may file a claim against Uber or Lyft if you were a passenger and the rideshare driver intentionally caused you harm.
  • Uber and Lyft do have insurance policies for their drivers that provide additional coverage while they are using the app.

Ridesharing Accidents When Riding

If you were riding in an Uber or Lyft as a passenger and you were injured in an accident, the same general insurance and liability rules would mostly apply, just like if you were in a passenger in any other vehicle. In most cases, the insurance of the ridesharing company will cover your injuries. Many states are now requiring ridesharing companies to have commercial liability insurance to cover accidents, and their insurance would apply in this case.

Although ridesharing drivers are still deemed as independent contractors other than ridesharing employees, the role has been somewhat changed over the years. In more recent incidents, Uber or Lyft will cover the accidents of their drivers if they are using the app and have a passenger, and will compensate them for their losses accordingly, just as any employer would for their employee.

If you are injured as a passenger in a rideshare accident, there are still a few things you must do to help with your personal injury claim, such as the following:

  • Try to find out what driver is responsible for causing the accident. You may be able to find this information out in the police report.
  • Get the names of the owners of the vehicles involved as well as the names of the drivers, as they might be different than the actual owner of the car.
  • Get the names of the insurance companies of the drivers.
  • Contact the ridesharing company that you were using as a passenger.
  • Contact your own car insurance carrier and your health care insurance provider.

To get coverage for your injuries, either through the driver’s personal insurance or through Uber or Lyft’s coverage, you must show that your driver was at least partially at fault for the accident. To receive full compensation, it is best to just file claims with any person or insurance company who may be responsible and let the insurance companies negotiate.

Ridesharing Accidents When Driving Another Car

Determining liability may be a bit more complex if you were driving a car or you were a pedestrian and a ridesharing driver hit you. This is because it may be difficult to determine if the driver is considered an employee or an independent contractor at the time of the accident. This is mostly done by figuring out if the rideshare driver was using the app to pick up a passenger or already had a passenger; if this was the case, they most likely will be considered an employee. If they were not using the app, they may be seen as any other driver, and their personal insurance policy would provide coverage. This is, of course, if the rideshare driver caused the accident.

If Uber or Lyft does not cover the driver under their policy, you would have to treat the accident as a normal car accident; you must gather evidence of your injuries and the accident to support your claim.

Rideshare App Insurance Coverage

Ridesharing companies require their drivers to carry their own car insurance but do offer additional insurance for drivers when they are active on their apps. Rideshare coverage is broken down in three different phases:

  • App is on. This means that the driver is taking ride requests but has not accepted a ride, nor are they on route to pick a passenger up. Rideshare companies normally provide some liability coverage in the event of an accident.
  • App is on with passengers. This means that the driver’s ridesharing app is on; they are traveling to pick up a passenger or are carrying passengers. Rideshare companies provide liability coverage up to $1,000,000, uninsured motorist insurance (UMI) for bodily injury, as well as comprehensive and collision coverage.
  • App is off. This means the rideshare driver is not taking requests and the app is off. In this scenario, their personal car insurance would provide coverage.

What to Do after a Rideshare Accident?

As with any car accident, there are some things you want to take care of immediately. A car accident can be quite jarring, so it is important to remember these steps:

  • Make sure everyone involved is okay and check if anyone needs medical attention. Call 911 right away and have the police come to the scene. Be sure the officers file a police report, which could help you determine liability.
  • Get the names of the other driver, their contact information, as well as their insurance information. If there were any witnesses, get their contact information also.
  • Gather evidence of the accident; obtain pictures of vehicle damage and your injuries, as well as the accident scene. You could also try to locate security camera footage or doorbell cameras in the area that may have documented the accident.

If your accident involved an Uber or Lyft driver, try to determine if the driver was using their app at the time, if they were going to pick up a passenger or were carrying a passenger. You could obtain this information either by asking the driver or through the police report. This could help determine whether your injury claim would go through the driver’s personal insurance or the insurance carrier of the rideshare company.

Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients Injured by Uber or Lyft Drivers

A car accident with a rideshare driver can get complicated when determining who is liable, especially if you are injured. The Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King can help. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure full and fair compensation. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.