Liability in Ridesharing Accidents
Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have skyrocketed into popularity over the last few years. Boasting low prices, increased accessibility, and unrivaled efficiency on a national scale, ridesharing apps have even become a threat to traditional taxi cab businesses. By allowing amateur drivers to use their own personal vehicles for commercial use, these applications have provided thousands of job opportunities as well as a readily available transportation alternative for consumers.
Uber and Lyft’s disruption of the transportation industry has also resulted in a new legal gray area for car accidents involving ridesharing drivers and their vehicles. The massive influx of relatively inexperienced drivers using personal property on a commercial basis naturally spawns lots of apprehension and questions. If you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft car and the driver gets into an accident how are you protected? What if you’re a third party victim? Who’s insurance holds responsibility? If you are involved in an automobile accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, having a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is essential.
Before answering any of those questions, it’s important to address that drivers are not employees of the ridesharing companies. Drivers are considered “independent contractors”, which allows Uber and Lyft to not be directly responsible in the event of an accident. While Uber and Lyft each have insurance coverages for their independent contractors, they also require that drivers maintain their own car insurance. It’s also worth noting that most personal auto insurance providers will refuse to cover drivers using their vehicle for commercial uses--such as driving for ridesharing companies.
There are several key factors regarding the circumstances of the accident that can determine who is financially responsible. One of the most important details is the activity of the driver. If they are “on-duty” and get into an accident, but are neither transporting a passenger nor on their way to a passenger, then the responsibility falls to the driver’s personal insurance. If the driver has accepted a fare and is on their way to pick up a customer, or already have a customer in the vehicle, Uber or Lyft’s insurance policies will cover damages. However, if the accident was caused by reckless driving on the part of the rideshare driver, Uber and Lyft have the discretion to refuse claims as a result of recklessness. Additionally, that driver’s personal auto insurance may reject claims due to the vehicle being used for commercial purposes.
So the question remains, what if you get involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver? If you are a passenger, you are protected by one of the companies’ insurance policies, both in the fault of the rideshare driver or the fault of another driver. Because rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors, you cannot directly sue Uber or Lyft for damages received in an accident. If you are another third party such as a driver or pedestrian, and the rideshare driver was at fault, the companies’ liability policies will also protect you. Should the rideshare driver be off-duty, however, the accident would return to normalcy. When filing a claim, and the driver is at fault, you would file it with their insurance company as well as the company that supports Uber or Lyft’s insurance.
Determining who’s truly responsible in liability cases such as these can be tedious, complicated, and stressful. If you are in Gainesville and have been in a car accident or have suffered personal injuries in a similar situation, having a good lawyer is imperative. At Carrillo and Carrillo Attorneys at Law, we believe you shouldn’t have to suffer for someone else’s recklessness. We are dedicated to providing efficient and professional services to ensure your legal needs are met, from initial compensation to long-term medical bills. Next time you use an Uber or Lyft car, remember who’s liable!