More and more people are opting to use Uber, Lyft, or other ridesharing services to get around town and while on vacation. These services allow riders to arrange their ride through the use of an app on their cellphones. While they can be a cheaper means of transportation than taxis—which is one reason they have become popular—people who use them may not understand the complexities of these services. The drivers are not driving a company car. They are independent contractors who drive their own vehicles. This makes determining who is liable for compensating the victim of an accident caused by an Uber or Lyft driver more complicated.
Liable Parties in a Rideshare Auto Accident
In Virginia, rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber are required to provide their drivers with one million dollars in insurance coverage in the event of an accident. This could be used to compensate victims of automobile wrecks caused by the ridesharing driver. However, whether the ridesharing company faces liability depends on what the driver was doing at the time of the crash. These rules could determine whether the ridesharing company or just the driver is responsible:
- Driver not driving for company. When a driver is not available to pick up a rider, he would turn off his driver mode. If he caused a car accident during this time, the ridesharing company would most likely not face liability. The injured victim would need to file his claim with the driver’s personal auto insurance company.
- Driver is in service but not driving a passenger. If a driver is waiting for a ride request to pick up passengers when he caused a wreck, Uber and Lyft have contingent liability insurance coverage that would pay compensation owed above the amount of liability coverage under the driver’s personal insurance policy. However, this coverage is much less than if the driver was actually driving the passenger at the time of the wreck. For example, Lyft’s contingent liability coverage is $50,000 per injured victim and $100,000 maximum coverage per accident. Other ridesharing companies may have different contingent liability coverages.
- Driver is transporting a passenger. When a driver causes a crash while carrying a passenger for a ridesharing service, the ridesharing company’s liability insurance coverage should be available to compensate the victim for his injuries. In the case of Uber and Lyft, victims could make a claim under their $1 million liability policies. In addition, if another negligent driver caused the crash and had no or insufficient coverage to compensate an injured rideshare passenger, the victim may be able to file a claim under Uber’s or Lyft’s uninsured or underinsured insurance coverages.
If you were hurt in a rideshare wreck, an experienced car accident attorney can help you determine who is liable for compensating you. Fill out our online form to schedule your consultation to learn how Tavss Fletcher can help you.