What Happens if My Uber or Lyft is in an Accident?

by Charles Harvey Allen on Jul. 22, 2019

Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Car Accident 

Summary: In this article, attorney Charles Allen discusses your possible legal options if you are involved in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft.

If you live in a big city like Atlanta, you frequently use ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Ridesharing services are cheaper and more convenient than taxis. You may wonder, however, whether ridesharing companies will cover your losses if you’re injured while riding as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle. 

When Uber and Lyft initially launched, they incredibly did not provide any liability insurance coverage to victims that were injured due to the negligence of Uber or Lyft drivers. The injured victim’s only recourse was to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. However, most consumer auto liability insurance policies contain a provision that excludes coverage for harms caused by drivers while they’re working in a commercial capacity, i.e. as a driver-for-hire. 

Even if the Uber or Lyft driver’s auto liability insurance policy didn’t contain a driver-for-hire exclusion, there was still little chance that a victim could recover fair compensation for his or her losses. Why? Because Georgia law only requires drivers to carry $25,000 liability insurance coverage per person and $50,000 liability insurance coverage per accident, no matter how many passengers are injured. 

Once the public learned that Uber and Lyft – billion dollar companies – did not provide any insurance coverage for the harms caused by their drivers, it demanded that Uber and Lyft act responsibly and purchase liability insurance coverage. Uber and Lyft ignored the public’s pleas until an Uber driver struck and killed a six-year-old girl in San Francisco. Even after that tragic incident, Uber still only agreed to purchase $100,000 of bodily injury coverage per incident. Now, after years of negative press coverage and lawsuits, Uber and Lyft have agreed to carry third party liability insurance coverage which pays up to $1 million for personal injuries and property damage caused by their drivers while they are carrying passengers. That’s still far less coverage than they ought to carry, but it’s better than nothing.

If you, or someone you love, has been seriously injured in an accident caused by an Uber or Lyft ride-sharing service driver, you should contact an Atlanta auto accident attorney. The attorneys at Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC have successfully resolved ridesharing car accident cases for decades-long before Uber and Lyft came on the scene. We are glad to help you achieve justice for your losses, as well.

 

Can I Sue an Uber or Lyft Driver Who Causes Harm If I’m Not a Passenger?


If you’re harmed by an Uber or Lyft driver’s carelessness, you can sue Uber or Lyft if the driver is carrying a customer, on its way to picking up a customer, or waiting to accept a new customer. The amount of insurance coverage that is available to you depends upon whether the driver was carrying a customer, or “on the clock,” but not carrying a customer. As discussed above, Uber and Lyft provide $1 million of liability insurance coverage if their driver injured you while the driver is carrying a customer. If the Uber or Lyft driver injures you while they are “on the clock,” but not carrying a customer, Uber and Lyft only provide $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per injured victim with a total of $100,000 bodily injury coverage per accident no matter how many victims are injured. 

 

You should also be aware that an Uber or Lyft driver is not necessarily “on the clock,” simply because they have an Uber or Lyft sticker or sign on their vehicle. If it turns out that the driver was not “on the clock,” Uber and Lyft won’t provide any coverage for your injuries. Your only recourse is to sue the at-fault driver, or your own insurance carrier, if you purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

 

Am I More Covered If I Ride in a Taxi?


No. Most traditional taxi services that serve metro Atlanta continue to only provide $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per car accident. Those taxi services apparently believe that they don’t have to play by the rules because they’re typically small operations that are not as wealthy or newsworthy as Uber and Lyft. 

 

Indeed, for decades, taxi companies have refused to cover any car accidents caused by their drivers by claiming that their drivers are “independent contractors.” When Uber and Lyft launched, they thought they could just follow the taxi companies’ model, but they soon learned that it’s difficult to escape responsibility for harming the public when you’re worth billions of dollars. 

 

An Accident Attorney Can Help


Even though Uber and Lyft carry significantly more liability insurance coverage than they once did, they will still vigorously deny responsibility when their drivers cause auto accidents. The most common excuse that they use to try and avoid liability is to claim that their driver was not “on the clock” at the time he or she caused the collision that harmed you. 

 

Uber and Lyft’s “off the clock” defense will easily crumble if there was a passenger in the rideshare vehicle at the time of the auto accident. But, it’s much more difficult for an injury victim to overcome that defense if the driver was waiting to accept a new customer, or en route to a new customer. In order to prove that a rideshare driver without a passenger was “on the clock,” you will likely need to sue Uber or Lyft and conduct electronic discovery to get ahold of the rideshare companies’ data, including, for instance, the driver’s weekly hours and earnings statements.  

Electronic discovery is time-consuming and expensive. Attorneys that advertise on TV, billboards, radio, and buses don’t have the time or the resources to conduct electronic discovery. Their goal is to settle your case as quickly as possible – even if that means settling your case for far less than its true value. If they can’t get your case quickly settled, they will abandon your case. 

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