What Happens When You Are In A Car Accident As A Rideshare Passenger?
Who is liable when a car accident happens involving a rideshare? Two of the most well-known rideshare services across the United States include Uber and Lyft. If you’re a passenger in a rideshare and an accident happens, then you need to know what might happen in the event you are injured.
The insurance issues and liability questions that passengers face are of mounting concern, given the growing popularity of rideshare services. Passenger use of them has more than doubled in the last five years alone.
If you are a rideshare passenger and get injured, then your injuries are probably going to be covered by someone’s insurance. The key question is who? Does the rideshare company cover it? Or is it up to the insurance policy of the at-fault driver?
The general rule of thumb is that the insurance of the at-fault driver is what kicks in first. That would be either your rideshare driver, if they’re at fault, or the civilian driver of another vehicle in a multivehicle collision.
If the rideshare driver is at fault, then typically their car insurance would apply first to your injuries, provided that one of two things is in place. First, they would have a commercial insurance policy in place, although most rideshare drivers don’t. Second, their personal car insurance policy has a special provision in the coverage that handles passengers during rideshares. Again, this is something of a rarity too.
Fortunately, Lyft and Uber both have third-party liability insurance coverage. This provides as much as $1 million for each accident to cover property damage and personal injuries. These policies do not kick in until after the insurance of the rideshare driver is exhausted, assuming that drive has an applicable policy, which both companies require. The liability policy of both companies covers you as a passenger whenever your rideshare driver was the one at fault.
If another driver is at fault, then you would look to recover damages from that driver, via a personal injury lawsuit or a claim against their insurance. However, there are instances where they might not have insurance at all, or the insurance they have isn’t enough to totally compensate you for the losses you have endured.
In such cases, you might be able to profit from another kind of insurance coverage that rideshare companies have, which is UM/UIM coverage. Uninsured/underinsured insurance coverage should usually bring $1 million of coverage for each accident, but only if the at-fault driver is underinsured, uninsured, or just unknown.
Insurance liability can be hard to prove if you decide to sue Uber or Lyft directly. Ridesharing companies do not usually employ their drivers like conventional taxi companies usually do. In most cases, although this is subject to litigation in some states, rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors, which gives the rideshare company legal distance from the responsibility of an accident.
Even in the case of driver negligence, Uber and Lyft are both big companies with teams of seasoned lawyers ready to work against a direct lawsuit outside of their offered insurance coverage.
There’s no doubt that rideshare services result in accidents. Across the nation, vehicle fatalities were at all-time lows before Uber and Lyft started showing up in the lanes, with fatalities rising several percentage points since then.
When rideshare drivers are at-fault for accidents, it can be due to several things. For starters, they might just be exhausted and overworked. Many might not be used to driving for long stretches of time. Also, distracted driving is possible due to smartphone use and conversation with passengers. Some are even driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and others might be unfamiliar with new surroundings they drive in and out of.
Lakota R. Denton is an Asheville Personal Injury Attorney who can help you with any questions you might have related to personal injury law, personal injury settlements and everything else related to personal injury cases in North Carolina.
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