It is almost impossible to deny that ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have changed the way Americans get around. These companies make getting from one place to another more convenient and at a competitive price point.
Every day, millions of people use Uber or Lyft to get to their destination and, thankfully, most of them get there safely and without a problem. But what happens when an Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident, and you are either a passenger in the ride sharing vehicle or you are in a vehicle they hit?
Uber and Lyft are both very much aware that accidents happen. Both companies carry huge insurance policies, in order to pay out accident claims. Over the years, passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and many others have received accident settlement amounts that pay for all their medical care and other damages caused by an accident involving a negligent driver.
If Injured by a Negligent Uber or Lyft Driver, Can You Sue?
Put simply, of course you can, although getting your Uber or Lyft accident settlement won’t be as easy as simply reporting the accident and receiving a check. Like most large companies, they don’t want to pay out and their insurance carriers also will try not to pay what you may deserve.
Insurers also try to protect ridesharing companies, so according to them, there are three “periods” when it comes to ridesharing:
- Period 1 is when the driver is cruising around town with the Uber or Lyft app open, but they have not yet been matched with a rider.
- Period 2 is when Lyft or Uber has matched the driver with a rider and they are en route to pick them up
- Period 3 is when the rider is in the car. Period 3 ends when the rider is dropped off at their destination.
What Will Uber and Lyft’s Insurance Cover
Both Uber and Lyft carry similar $1 million insurance policies, and for both, the coverage levels depend on whether there is a passenger in the car. Collision and comprehension coverage are only available only to drivers who already have these coverages on their own policies and the driver’s injuries are only covered if the other driver is at fault.
Below is a summary of Lyft’s typical insurance coverage for a driver:
Period 1: Liability limits are low and comprehensive and collision coverage are not offered. Lyft’s liability coverage has limits of 50/100/25 ($50,000 per person bodily injury, up to $100,000 per incident, and $25,000 for property damage). This is contingent coverage, which means the driver must make a claim on their personal policy first. If the claim is denied, Lyft’s coverage will step up to the plate.
Periods 2 and 3: Liability coverage is plentiful, with the $1 million coverage, but collision and comprehensive is only contingent. Lyft also offers comprehensive and collision to its drivers during Periods 2 and 3, but the coverage is contingent, just as it is during Period 1. Lyft also carried a $1 million uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
Uber drivers’ liability is equally as complicated, since Uber drivers also carry their own personal insurance, which often exclude accidents that occur on the job. If the accident happens during Periods 1 or 2, the Uber driver’s personal auto insurance policy should apply, but they may try to deny coverage, in which case Uber’s insurance will take effect. Therefore, if you find yourself in an accident with an Uber driver, you may have more than one insurance adjuster attempting to deny coverage, which means more than one source for coverage.
Uber also provides its drivers with additional liability coverage of up to $50,000 for injury and $25,000 in property damage coverage, as part of their benefits. There is a catch, however, in that the Uber driver must request it, and it only applies if the driver’s personal insurance doesn’t cover all damages.
The Importance of Independent Contractor Status in Your Case
It’s important to remember that both Uber and Lyft claim their drivers are not employees. Because of this, if you are injured in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, whether as a passenger of the ridesharing service or the passenger of another vehicle they hit, you should make sure you hire an attorney immediately because they and their insurance adjusters will use that “independent contractor” status to avoid paying out anything.
Ridesharing companies have too often been successful at avoiding responsibility, even in cases in which their driver was drunk or distracted at the time of the accident. Uber and Lyft also require all drivers to sign an agreement in which they promise to take on all responsibility and defend their company when someone sues them after an accident.
When you have been in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, many of the at-fault parties will point fingers at each other and nearly everyone will try to avoid taking responsibility. That does not mean no one receives an Uber or Lyft accident settlement. Recently, a pedestrian who was hit and killed by an Uber driver received a settlement for an undisclosed amount just 10 days after the accident. Thanks to the assist of an attorney, that victim received a settlement less than two weeks after the accident.
What to Do When You’re in an Accident With an Uber or Lyft Driver
There are specific steps you can take to make it easier to hold Uber or Lyft responsible and to get the compensation you deserve under the law. Below are some recommendations on things you can do after an accident involving a ridesharing company.
- Seek immediate medical attention – Following an Uber or Lyft accident, you should immediately see a doctor and undergo a thorough medical evaluation. Remember, it can take a few days for injuries to present themselves. Even if a paramedic at the crash scene looked you over and thought you were fine it never hurts to get a thorough exam from a medical doctor. Never make the mistake of assuming your injuries aren’t serious enough to see a doctor. If you have pain and discomfort you should definitely get checked out.
- Never accept a quick settlement – One method insurance companies use to limit their payouts is by making quick settlement offers to accident victims, before they have a chance to see an attorney. If an adjuster is, that’s a bad sign. The problem is, when you accept that settlement, it becomes virtually impossible to recover any additional compensation. That means, if you accept money that doesn’t cover all your expenses and losses, you may be stuck with that decision.
- Stay off social media – If you have been injured in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, avoid the temptation to post any information about it. Social media can’t really help your case, but it can damage it, so stay away. The best practice is to not post anything, even if unrelated to the accident. Those posts are public, and insurance companies can and will use social media posts against you during your Uber or Lyft accident settlement. Even the simplest of posts can be used by the insurance company to contradict a claim you’re making in your accident.
- Call a lawyer as soon as possible – If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, get an experienced Uber or Lyft accident lawyer immediately.
Finding the Right Attorney is Key to Your Uber or Lyft Accident
You can try to fight a claim on your own by going through Uber or Lyft, or even the driver’s personal insurance company. However, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that everyone you will be up against will have billions of dollars, an army of lawyers and plenty of incentive to pay you as little as possible. Dealing with insurance companies can be brutal and feel demoralizing, and feel like there is no point to it. Getting an experienced Uber or Lyft accident attorney, like those at Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group, to fight for your rights under the law will bring you greater peace of mind than trying to do it all on your own. We know how to deal with insurance companies in a way that brings the best possible accident settlement for your case.
Don’t settle for the first lawyer you find. You need someone with the ability to take on billion-dollar corporations like Uber, Lyft and their billion-dollar insurance carriers and get the highest possible settlement. Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group has the experience you need. Victims of these accidents need a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney on their side to make them whole again. Contact Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group today for a free consultation.