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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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 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:
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.