Traffic accidents happen every day, often when you least expect them -- such as when you're catching a Uber to the airport or taking a Lyft ride home. Many people don't think about what happens in terms of liability after a rideshare accident but it's important to understand that ridesharing introduces unique complications in an injury claim.
Here is a timeline explaining liability in a rideshare accident, including how you can recover compensation if you are injured in a rideshare accident in Texas.
What to Do After a Rideshare Accident
Uber and Lyft both have protocols in place after an accident, although Uber's system is more thorough. After a Lyft accident, you can contact the company's 24-hour emergency number to speak with a representative. Keep in mind the representative is a Lyft employee, not your attorney. Your conversation will be recorded and they will be loyal to their employer, not you.
Uber offers an online RapidSOS application to report an accident. You can use this application to call 911 -- if it works. The app will also record the location of the accident, details of your trip, a description of your Uber vehicle, your name, and phone number, your pick up and drop off locations, and the name of your driver. This information will be transmitted to Uber.
Who is Liable?
Liability can be tricky in rideshare accidents. Uber and Lyft both carry liability insurance, but this coverage only takes effect if the rideshare driver or another driver is at-fault and do not have enough bodily injury coverage. The amount of coverage will also depend on whether the ride is in progress or if the driver is only logged into the app but has not been connected with a rider. If the Uber driver has enough coverage, you will likely be dealing with their insurance company.
To assign insurance liability, your personal injury attorney will need to know the details of your accident. Depending on how the accident happened, you may be able to recover compensation from one or more of the following:
- Your Uber driver
- Another at-fault driver
- Uber or Lyft
As a general rule, you will likely seek compensation first from the at-fault driver, whether it's an Uber driver or another motorist. Your attorney may recommend pursuing a claim with Uber or Lyft if the accident was a hit-and-run, the driver was uninsured, or there was insufficient coverage to pay for your claim. Here are common scenarios and liability concerns that can raise in a rideshare accident.
Rideshare Driver At Fault
When the rideshare driver is at fault for your accident, your injury lawyer will help you pursue a claim directly against the rideshare driver and their insurance company. Still, there are several cases in which you will still need to turn to Uber or Lyft's insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries:
- The rideshare driver does not have enough coverage
- The rideshare driver does not have insurance
- The rideshare driver's insurance policy does not cover them. This can happen if they do not have rideshare coverage.
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for Uber or Lyft drivers to maintain only the minimum liability coverage required in Texas. This may be sufficient to cover damages in a minor accident but minimum coverage will quickly run out if multiple people are hurt or injuries are more serious. In this case, you can still turn to Uber or Lyft's policy to compensate you.
Another common issue concerns rideshare coverage. The typical personal car insurance policy does not cover ridesharing or rides for hire. For the driver's personal policy to provide coverage, they must add rideshare coverage to their policy or get a rideshare friendly insurance policy. If they do not have rideshare coverage, you can turn to Uber or Lyft's coverage.
Another Driver At Fault
If you are involved in a rideshare accident as a passenger and another driver is at fault, you will likely need to pursue the other driver's insurance company with a claim. There are exceptions to this, however. If the other driver does not have insurance, does not have enough coverage to fully compensate you, or you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, you may still be able to recover compensation through Lyft or Uber's uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage. Both companies carry this insurance with up to $1 million in coverage but it will only take effect if the other at-fault driver:
- Does not have car insurance
- Does not have enough insurance to pay for your injuries
- Is unknown after a hit-and-run
Driver Status and Liability Claims
Uber and Lyft advertise $1 million liability coverage for drivers but the maximum coverage is only available in specific scenarios. Uber and Lyft only cover a rideshare driver during specific periods often called Periods 2 and 3 when the driver is waiting for a rider and logged into the app or either en route to pick up a rider or during a trip.
When the driver is not logged into the app, their personal car insurance should cover them. Period 1 begins when the driver logs into the app and is waiting for a ride request. During Period 1, coverage is much lower at $50,000 per person, $25,000 for property damage, and $100,000 for bodily injury per accident.
This period can seem like a gray area in terms of liability. Rideshare companies don't offer collision coverage to the driver during this time and their personal car insurance also likely won't offer coverage.
Period 2 begins when the driver is matched with a rider and en route to pick them up. Period 3 begins when the rider gets in the car and ends when the rider is dropped off. This is when the rideshare policy is in full effect and offers the greatest coverage. In the event of an accident, you can turn to both the rideshare driver's policy and the rideshare company's insurance.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Rideshare accidents are notoriously complex when it comes to liability and recovering compensation after an injury. Personal car insurance providers often refuse coverage while covered drivers are online on a rideshare app but rideshare company insurance providers may argue that a driver who wasn't transporting a rider wasn't earning and isn't covered by the commercial policy.
An experienced personal injury attorney in Texas can help you build your claim, determine which party is liable for your damages, and help you pursue the fair compensation you deserve.
Contact Stern Law Group today at (877) 661-9900 to schedule a free consultation.