Rideshare services like Lyft or Uber are commonplace. Although these companies like to call themselves technology companies, the road rules still apply to their drivers the same as any business that puts cars on the roadway. Therefore, the rules still extend to rideshare services when involved in a car accident. However, there are certain things that you should know about the differences and complexities of a car accident involving a rideshare driver.
How Common are Rideshare Driver Accidents?
It is not uncommon for rideshare accidents to happen. In a University of Chicago study it was found that fatalities increased by between 2% to 3% when rideshare was introduced.
Studies have shown that traffic accidents and traffic deaths increase in areas where rideshare services began rolling out and where they became commonplace. Many critics contend that ridesharing decreases the use of public transportation and increases traffic congestion, all factors that tend to increase the number of traffic accidents.
Rideshare Accidents and Insurance
In some ways, insurance agencies treat rideshare accidents the same as any typical car accident.
One similarity in some States, such as Michigan, is the availability of no-fault insurance, also called personal injury protection (PIP). This insurance pays for a limited amount of your medical bills when you are in an accident, regardless of the accident or who was at fault. Even if you were at fault for the accident, you would get these benefits. You do not have to sue anyone to get these benefits. They are available immediately to help you pay for medical expenses or lost wages.
PIP will generally pay for $10,000 of medical expenses, lost wages, or both.
In most cases, the rideshare vehicle driver will have their PIP coverage, and their PIP will pay the amounts that the law requires the insurer to pay.
Of course, PIP doesn’t fully compensate you for all forms of damages you may suffer in an accident. For example, PIP won’t pay you for pain and suffering or future expected medical expenses. Therefore, you will need to tap into an additional source of insurance for most of the damages and injuries that you sustain.
In addition to PIP, the rideshare driver likely has liability insurance on their policy. Liability coverage is insurance that pays for injuries to anyone other than the driver that caused the accident. Liability insurance pays the victim if the insured does something to cause an accident. Liability coverage is subject to state minimums. In Illinois, that minimum amount is $25,000. This coverage could be more, depending on the liability limits that the driver has.
Where Does Insurance for Accidents Come From in a Rideshare Accident?
The problem that arises for ridesharing drivers is that many insurances that those drivers have personally do not cover accidents that happen for commercial (business) reasons. So, a rideshare driver’s personal insurance policy may likely deny covering the driver for an accident while driving for a rideshare service.
The good news for victims is that many of these rideshare companies must legally provide insurance to drivers through the company. However, the policies usually only pay for accidents in certain circumstances. Many of the situations relate to the driver’s status. For instance, the insurance may pay one amount when the driver is off duty or another amount if the driver is in an accident while on the way to pick you up, and yet another amount once you get in the car.
Most major rideshare companies offer up to $1 million in coverage for accidents when the driver is at fault for the accident. Including but not limited to accidents as a passenger inside that car, or you are someone outside the vehicle that the driver injures while they are transporting a passenger.
That insurance total is large, but it isn’t guaranteed. Many insurance companies might refuse to cover their drivers if the driver did not sign into certain apps that drivers must log into while on duty. But since most drivers want to be covered by the insurance policy (and be paid for their ride), they usually are signed in while they are on work duty.
Uber or Lyft drivers will not be signed into the app when they are not on duty. Think about when they are driving themselves home at night, or even if they are driving to pick up a passenger. There can be a dispute between the company’s insurance, and the driver’s insurance, as to who pays for the accident.
The Rideshare company’s insurance will contend they have no obligation to protect and insure the driver; your Schaumburg personal injury attorney will argue that its insurance should pay. When rideshare insurers deny coverage and say that they do not cover an accident, your attorney may work with the rideshare driver. You and the driver may have at least one similar interest: getting the driver’s insurance company to accept coverage for the accident and pay any damages to you.
The good news is that if the Lyft or Uber insurance does not pay, you and your attorney can possibly pursue an uninsured motorist claim or possibly pursue the driver’s personal liability policy to compensate you for your injuries or damages.
Who Can Sue and For What?
Rideshare drivers, and the companies they drive for, can be liable for damages to several different people in many other circumstances.
For example, an Uber or Lyft driver may injure a pedestrian, bicyclist, or someone in another car. Rideshare drivers may also be liable to passengers inside their vehicle if they get injured during the accident.
When a rideshare driver causes an accident, they can be liable to whoever they injure for damages such as:
- Compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering
- Compensation for the victim’s loss of enjoyment or quality of life
- Compensation for anxiety, PTSD, or other trauma
- Compensation for scarring, loss of limbs, or other disabilities caused by the accident
- Compensation for the victim’s out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills or lost wages, including incurred medical bills and loss of future earning capacity because of injuries caused in the accident
Like in a non-ridesharing accident, if someone were to pass away because of injuries sustained in the accident, the deceased’s estate or family could pursue a wrongful death case against the driver and the rideshare company.
Who Else is At Fault?
If you are in an accident while in a Lyft, Uber, or another rideshare service, your rideshare driver may not even be at fault. Sometimes, other drivers drive negligently and crash into your rideshare driver. As the passenger in the rideshare vehicle, you are entitled to sue the negligent driver. You do not lose any rights you would typically have just because you were in a Lyft and not driving your car.
It is not uncommon for rideshare drivers to be involved in accidents. That makes sense, given they drive so much throughout the day. They also may be more distracted, looking at phones, or driving quickly to get where they are going to carry more passengers and make more money. They may not alter their driving to account for bad weather conditions.
Rideshare drivers often drive around, waiting for customers or their next ride order. It is called “deadheading.” This somewhat aimless “driving to nowhere” activity is often long, tedious, and distracting, leading to carelessness behind the wheel. When drivers are involved in accidents while deadheading, many rideshare companies won’t report these accidents, thus leading to underreporting of Uber or Lyft accident statistics.
When you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, you should take special note of things the driver may be doing that may be careless or reckless—for example, excessive speed or playing on the driver’s cellphone. If you suspect the driver may be drunk or impaired, you should immediately ask to get out of the vehicle.
While a passenger, you should also look around you so that if other drivers are driving carelessly, or if another driver causes an accident, you see what the other driver did, and you can tell the police.
After a Rideshare Accident
If you are in an accident, make sure that you tell the police about any unsafe behaviors you observed the driver engaging in. Get medical help, and if you can, take photos of the accident, including damages to all vehicles involved in the accident, just as you would after any car accident.
Were you in a car accident while in a rideshare service, or did a rideshare driver cause it? Call our experienced Schaumburg car accident attorneys at Claim Your Justice to schedule a free consultation at 847-434-3555 today. You only have a limited time to file a personal injury claim. Do not delay in reaching out to have your case evaluated.