Ride-sharing services are as common today as taxis. If you’re ever in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, it is most likely that you will not be able to sue the ride-sharing company outright. Drivers are technically independent contractors, not employees, meaning the company can deny liability for crashes involving their drivers (and have done so in the past, most notoriously when a driver hit and killed a six-year-old in San Francisco in 2014.
But there is still recourse. Your options in case of an accident involving injuries, as with all personal injury cases, depending on the laws in the state in which the crash occurs. Typically, here are the options that you have involving these types of accidents.
If You’re a Passenger
- Call 911, and then take pictures of the wreck
- Write down names, email addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses
- Write down the name of the driver if it’s not already in your phone
- Take screenshots of your Uber ride and receipt on your phone
- Hire a lawyer if you’re injured or incurred any kind of medical bills
If the accident occurs during the course of your trip and your ride-sharing driver is at fault, you are covered under a $1 million liability policy that both Uber and Lyft have through James River Insurance. If you need to file a lawsuit, you would sue the at-fault driver (not Uber or Lyft directly) and serve copies of the lawsuit documents on that driver, as well as on the insurance company. Chances are the driver will not be able to pay your medical bills, which is why the companies offer these policies.
Your lawyer should immediately send preservation of evidence letters (also called spoliation letters) to Uber/Lyft and the driver, to ensure they preserve all the data related to your ride. Depending on state law, the ride-sharing company could be sued if it fails to preserve that data.
If another driver is at fault (not your ride-sharing driver), then the other driver’s personal insurance policy comes into play first. Assuming they don’t have enough to cover potentially serious medical bills, Uber and Lyft both have $1 million under-insured motorist policies (also called Uninsured Motorist policies, or “UM”) that could apply.
If You’re Not a Passenger
Things are a bit more complicated if you are not a passenger in the car, or the driver is off-duty. If the Uber or Lyft driver is not on duty and using the car for personal purposes, you can’t necessarily make a claim under Uber’s $1 million policy, you’d make it on the driver’s personal policy. This is also true if the driver is on duty but does not have a passenger at the time of the accident. But if they do have a passenger and injure a bystander, then Uber’s insurance will cover the accident.
One wrinkle: Some states, like California and Washington, have ruled that the ride-sharing companies’ policies apply even if the driver does not have a passenger in the car. Essentially, their insurance covers drivers as soon as they log into the app and are waiting for a fare, up until they log off. But again, it depends on the state.
In order to maximize your recovery, an experienced personal injury attorney will explore all available options for you. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a crash that involved an Uber or Lyft driver, it is very important to seek legal representation so you know your rights under the full extent of Florida laws. Attorney Steve Hoskins has a complete Auto Accident and Personal Injury team of lawyers, investigators, and paralegals ready to defend your rights. You can schedule a free appointment now to discuss your case and there are no fees or costs unless we win a settlement for you.
For a complimentary consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney, Social Security Disability Attorney, Workers’ Compensation Attorney, or Bankruptcy Attorney in Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, or Okeechobee, click here or call toll-free 866-460-1990.