Untangling the Rideshare Driver/Company Relationship
Travelers, city dwellers, and millennials without cars have found a new way to get around: rideshares, made possible by companies like Uber and Lyft. While these apps have given entrepreneurial drivers the ability to supplement their paychecks, concerns regarding the company’s impact—on traffic, taxi driver unions, and the hardworking drivers who provide the rides—have risen.
Rideshare drivers might also be endangering the rest of us. A study conducted by the University of Chicago found a 3% increase in fatal accidents since Uber and Lyft began their rollouts in various locations across the US. It makes sense: With more drivers on the road, whether they’re transporting passengers or circling for fares, the chance of an accident increases. Whether you Uber, Lyft, or drive yourself, you may find yourself entangled in a complex insurance situation after an accident.
Uber and Lyft Require Commercial Insurance Coverage
Because using a rideshare app turns a normal car into a commercial vehicle, standard insurance won’t cover any accidents that happen while a driver is working. Whether you’re a passenger in an Uber or you were hit by one, the driver’s insurance will decline coverage for any injuries or property damage caused while on the clock.
Both Uber and Lyft offer commercial insurance to drivers, which begins when they open the app. The coverage, which varies depending on whether the driver is actively transporting a passenger or just looking for one, exceeds mandatory minimums in every state and will come into play when personal insurance doesn’t.
Uber or Lyft’s Insurers
If your rideshare driver causes an accident, you’ll want to file a claim with Uber or Lyft directly. As with any similar scenario, make sure you get the contact information of all parties involved and any witnesses before leaving the scene of the accident. When you’re involved as a passenger, you’ll also need to include your own driver’s information. The app should show a record of your ride, but it might be a good idea to take a screenshot in case of data loss or server outages. Then, we recommend contacting a qualified car accident attorney experienced in handling Uber and Lyft insurance cases.
The At-Fault Party
Though most personal insurance doesn’t cover any commercial activity, if the at-fault party isn’t a rideshare driver, this clause has no effect. In this case, you, your driver, and any other passengers would all file against the at-fault party’s insurance. Uber and Lyft also offer uninsured motorist coverage, which kicks in when the at-fault party cannot be identified or has insufficient coverage.
In the unlikely event that the other driver is also working for Uber or Lyft at the time of the accident, your insurance claim should be made to the company. You will not be able to get proof of involvement from your own rideshare app, but be sure to document the incident thoroughly so you have plenty of evidence. Even if the at-fault driver fails to report the accident, Uber or Lyft can use your records to find them.
The Uber or Lyft Driver
Because Uber and Lyft want to make it clear that their drivers are independent contractors, not employees, their insurance does not cover every rideshare accident. If your driver’s recklessness directly caused the accident, the company may decline to cover it. Things may get messy with the driver’s personal insurance—as many carrier contracts explicitly forbid using a covered vehicle for work purposes. In the best-case scenario, the driver will have the additional rideshare coverage offered by some insurers, but you shouldn’t count on it. You’ll likely deal with a difficult insurance negotiation, or possibly even a personal injury lawsuit, before the issue is settled.
At The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm, We’ve Got You Covered.
Whether going through Uber or Lyft insurance or working with a private party’s adjuster, rideshare accidents can complicate liability. If insurers try to deny your claim and assign responsibility to another party, an experienced rideshare accident attorney can provide the advocacy you need. Reach out now for help with your Uber or Lyft insurance case.
Contact The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm online or call (217) 394-5885 for your free consultation today.