Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services are becoming increasingly popular. Instead of renting a car in a new city or navigating public transportation, many people just pull out their phones and summon a ride with a tap. Not only is it often cheaper than a traditional cab ride, but it's just as convenient, if not more so.
But what happens when a ridesharing car is in an accident? Who's responsible for the resulting damage? The answer is more complicated than you might think.
The Special Status Of Ridesharing Drivers
If an Uber driver causes an accident, it's reasonable to assume that the company should be responsible. After all, the driver is operating their car in a professional capacity, right? Shouldn't that be covered under a generous corporate insurance policy?
Yes and no. Ridesharing drivers aren't classified as full-time employees of their respective companies-they're independent contractors. Because of that, their professional status changes minute by minute, depending on what they're doing.
This may seem like trivial information, but it matters a great deal as far as insurance is concerned. Uber, Lyft and other companies have different amounts of insurance coverage depending on the exact status of a driver at the time of an accident. For Uber, these insurance limits are:
- $50,000/$100,000 for injuries and $25,000 for property damage when the driver is using the Uber app, but does not have a passenger.
- $1,000,000 for both injuries and property damage when the driver is transporting a passenger or on their way to pick up a passenger.
- $0 when the driver is not using the Uber app and is completely offline. The driver's personal insurance policy applies instead.
Different companies have slightly different insurance policies, but the substance is the same. When a ridesharing driver is transporting a passenger, one set of rules applies. When they aren't, a different set applies.
What Does This Mean For Accident Victims?
For people who have been in an accident involving a ridesharing driver, gathering data from the company is of paramount importance. If there's any gray area at all, the companies will do everything in their power to minimize their liability. Obtaining data to the contrary is the key to pushing back against these claims.
In addition, ridesharing companies could have additional liability if they should have reasonably known that one of their drivers posed an unusual risk. We've all heard stories of terrible drivers, and these companies have a responsibility to hire people that are safe. If they can't provide safe transportation, they need to own the results. A good attorney can unearth a driver's background and use this information to bolster your claim in court.