Ridesharing is a relatively new option for paid car travel. According to the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of American adults have used a ridesharing app to get to a location. However, since ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft implement a different business model than a taxi service, you may wonder how to legally handle your injuries and damages if you’re involved in an accident with a rideshare driver.
What Is Ridesharing?
When you choose to rideshare, you use a smartphone app to hire an often privately owned vehicle to pick you up and drop you off at a designated location. This app arranges the ride by matching independently contracted drivers with riders. This type of travel gained popularity in San Francisco, and now ridesharing has spread worldwide. Below are two of the most well-known and most-used ridesharing apps and how they work:
- Uber. You can use the Uber app to set your pick-up and drop-off locations, view pictures and ratings of available drivers and their vehicles, choose your ride, travel, pay, and then rate your driver—all with a few taps on your phone screen. Additionally, you can apply to drive for Uber to take home extra earnings.
- Lyft. Similar to Uber, Lyft employs a smartphone app to let people find and guarantee a ride from a rated and pictured driver. Offering four different levels of vehicle, Lyft touts a simple “Request, Ride, Pay” model through the app.
People use ridesharing apps for the same reasons others use taxis, including needing a ride after drinking too much or needing a ride home from the airport. However, ridesharing apps offer the opportunity to guarantee a ride (instead of trying to hail one from the sidewalk) in a well-rated car with a well-rated driver.
How Ridesharing Insures Accidents
Both Uber and Lyft use commercial insurance, much like taxi companies. The maximum liability coverage for each is $1 million, which is much higher than minimum requirements even in major cities of the U.S. such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Although this may sound like enough coverage, what really matters is how an accident occurred.
If Your Driver Was Not at Fault
If you’re a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, and another driver causes an accident, for both Uber and Lyft, available insurance coverage includes:
- The other driver’s insurance and liability limits
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage up to $1 million
- Personal injury policy
If Your Driver Was at Fault
If your selected driver makes a mistake while on duty on the road and causes an accident, available insurance coverages for both Uber and Lyft have a liability limit of $1 million.
If You Were Hit by a Rideshare Driver
If you were operating your own car, motorcycle, or bicycle—or perhaps just walking—and an on-duty Uber or Lyft driver hits your vehicle, the $1 million liability coverage will apply. However, if a rideshare driver injures you in an accident while off duty, he must rely on his personal liability coverages with his own insurance company. Since rideshare drivers are independent contractors, they are totally separate from the company when driving on their own time.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Rideshare Accident
As with any accident, it’s important to gather important information to assist with the claim that will most likely follow. In the event you’re in an accident involving an Uber or a Lyft driver, it’s important you follow through with:
- Obtaining the rideshare driver’s name, insurance information, and license plate
- Obtaining the same from any other drivers involved
- Taking photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and property damage
- Requesting the contact information of any witnesses to the crash
- Reporting the crash to law enforcement
- Reporting the crash to either Uber’s or Lyft’s customer service lines
- Seeking immediate medical attention for injuries
- Calling an attorney to handle your case
Get Trusted Legal Help from Our Personal Injury Attorneys
If you’ve been injured in a rideshare car accident, the car accident attorneys of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi is available to walk you through your case and answer questions. We proudly serve Fairfax and all of Northern Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Please contact us by starting a live online chat on our website.