Who is liable if I am hurt when using Uber or Lyft?
Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber market their services as a safe and convenient way to get from Point A to Point B. Want to go out and have a few alcoholic beverages? Call an Uber driver so you do not have to worry about drunk driving. Need a ride from the airport? Lyft can get you where you need to go. Although these uses are helpful, they can come with risks. Just like any mode of transportation, accidents are possible, but the question of liability can be complex when using a rideshare.
It is important to follow through and determine liability, as car accidents can come with serious injuries. These injuries can require extensive medical care and rehabilitation as well as result in missed work. The combination of growing medical bills and lost wages can be financially crippling. It may seem like the victim should be able to hold the rideshare driver accountable for the cost of the accident. Although this seems logical, as noted above, the system is complex. It can help to ask three questions to get a better understanding of how it works.
Step 1: Who was at fault?
Like any car accident claim, the first step generally involves determining who was at fault. In personal injury cases like a car accident, the answer often requires establishing negligence. Negligence has four parts: duty, breach, causation, and damage. Every driver owes a duty of care while operating a vehicle, so when looking at a driver who may have caused an accident, the first part is generally established. Next, the passenger would need to show that the driver breached that duty or was not operating their vehicle with care and that this breach caused an accident and resulted in damages or injury.
The passenger may look to hold the rideshare driver liable, but other options may include the rideshare company itself as well as other drivers if the accident involved multiple vehicles.
Step 2: Was the driver acting as a rideshare provider?
Rideshare companies have strict rules about when they are liable versus when the driver is personally liable for an accident, which varies depending on the status of the rideshare app. Rideshare companies generally offer minimal coverage if the app is on but the driver is waiting for a request. The coverage increases once a request is made and the driver is headed to pick up the passenger.
Step 3: Did the driver have proper insurance?
The extent of coverage will depend on the driver and rideshare app’s policies. Personal insurance coverage often has provisions which exclude coverage if the driver is providing rideshare services. However, due to the growing availability of these services, many personal insurance policies now offer provisions to cover the driver if they offer these services. This means the driver’s personal coverage may apply. Drivers may also have an additional rideshare-specific policy.
Navigating which insurance policies may apply and whether to move forward with a civil suit to better ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled after being injured when using a rideshare service is no easy task. It is also important to note that the above is just part of the overall analysis when determining liability. An attorney experienced in this niche area of personal injury law can review your case and work to protect your right to legal remedies.