Uber and Lyft provide an innovative solution for transportation – rather than having to schedule a cab in advance or flag one down, an individual in need of a ride can simply open an app on their phone and within minutes connect with a driver willing to take them wherever they need to go.
Uber and Lyft are also different from traditional taxicab companies in that both Uber and Lyft require drivers to use their own personal vehicles, and insist that Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors, not employees. As such, how much liability the companies hold for their drivers’ actions has been disputed in the past, and how damages from accidents caused by Uber/Lyft drivers should be paid for has been a hot and contentious topic.
If you were in an Uber of Lyft Accident Seek Help Right Away
Today, the state of California has passed a number of laws aimed at helping to ensure that when an Uber or Lyft accident occurs, drivers and the people they are carrying or hit (such as pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers/passenger of another vehicle) are protected. If you are involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft vehicle in California, here’s a look into what you need to know about your recovery options, and whether or not you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation.
Ridesharing Accident Fault
The first thing that is important to understand following an accident involving a motor vehicle is that California follows a traditional fault, or tort liability system. This means that when an accident occurs, the at-fault party is responsible for paying for damages. It also means that in order to recover compensation, an injured party must prove that:
- A duty of care was owed to them by the at-fault party;
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care owed to them;
- The breach of duty of care was the direct cause of the accident; and
- The accident resulted in actual damages, such as medical expenses or suffering.
Because the state maintains a tort liability system which allows an injured party to file a claim or a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party, all drivers are required to carry liability insurance.
All of this information is applicable to accidents involving Uber and Lyft; insurance is required, and the at-fault party (or their insurance) is responsible for paying for damages sustained by the not-at-fault party.
Insurance Requirements for Rideshare Companies Like Uber & Lyft
The insurance requirements for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are different than they are for private drivers. While the minimum amounts of coverage for a non-rideshare driver are $15,000/$30,000 in bodily injury liability per person/per accident, and $5,000 for property damage, the insurance requirements for rideshare companies are:
- $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $100,000 per bodily injury liability coverage per accident; and
- $30,000 in property damage liability insurance.
These requirements are “period I” requirements. Period I is the period of time when an Uber or Lyft driver is logged onto the app, but has not yet picked up a passenger. During this time period, the state of California also requires that drivers maintain an additional $200,000 of excess liability coverage in the event of very severe accidents.
This insurance coverage mandate can be read about in more detail in “California Forces Uber and Its Rivals to Bolster Insurance,” published in Wired.
After an Uber or Lyft driver has accepted a ride request and is transporting passengers, coverage limits increase. To be exact, both Uber and Lyft provide their drivers with $1 million in liability insurance per incident, and $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident.
Your Options after a Crash Involving Uber or Lyft
Your options for recovering compensation after a crash involving Uber or Lyft vary significantly depending upon what you were doing at the time of the accident and whether or not you caused or contributed to the crash. Consider the following scenarios:
- Pedestrian hit by an Uber/Lyft vehicle. If you were acting as a pedestrian at the time of your accident involving an Uber or Lyft vehicle and you were not at fault for the accident, then you can file a claim under the company’s liability coverage. You can also file a lawsuit if a settlement cannot be reached.
- Another driver involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft. If you were acting as the driver of a separate vehicle at the time of your accident with an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you should file a claim with the vehicle’s insurance policy if you were not at fault. If you were at fault, you may need to turn to your own insurance’s collision or medical payments coverage (if you carry these coverage types). If you and the Uber/Lyft driver are both found to be at fault, you may share liability for the accident, and be forced to split the costs of damages.
- A passenger in an Uber/Lyft vehicle. In the event that you are a passenger in an Uber/Lyft vehicle at the time of accident involving the vehicle in which you were traveling and another car, you will file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance. Again, you may file a lawsuit if a fair settlement cannot be reached, and you need to bring your claim to court in order to recover compensation for your injuries.
You Need an Experienced Uber & Lyft Accident Lawyer on Your Side
Accidents with rideshare companies are complicated, and there are often many insurance companies, including the rideshare insurance, the rideshare driver’s insurance, the insurance of another driver, or/and your personal insurance involved in the claims process. Thankfully GJEL has succesffully gotten many strong recoveries for our clients who were involved in Uber and Lyft accidents.
To help you determine liability for your crash and file a claim against the appropriate party, negotiate for damages, or bring forth a lawsuit, you need an experienced attorney. At the law offices of GJEL Accident Attorneys, our talented California personal injury lawyers have the experience and knowledge your case deserves.
Contact us today for your free consultation and more information.