September 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 262

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Uber and Lyft Drivers Hurt in Rideshare Accidents

When what was supposed to be just another ride assignment instead turns into a devastating collision, rideshare drivers have a lot on the line. Whether driving for Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare company is your livelihood or just a side hustle, spending more time on the road raises your chances of getting hurt in a traffic accident.

More and more rideshare drivers are discovering that getting compensation after an accident is a lot harder than they expected. While you may think that the rideshare company will automatically cover your medical bills and lost wages, that’s not always the case. And just because you’re not to blame for the collision doesn’t mean your claim will be straightforward.

The good news is that, with an experienced rideshare accident lawyer on your side, you can start rebuilding your life.

Who Is Liable for a Rideshare Driver’s Injuries From an Uber or Lyft Accident?

If you believe you weren’t at fault for the collision that occurred while driving for a rideshare company, you’re not alone. A lot of rideshare accidents are caused by the other motorists an Uber or Lyft driver encounters on the road.

Unfortunately, getting the payout you deserve for a crash that wasn’t your fault can be a lot more challenging than you would think. If you go into your rideshare accident injury claim thinking that your case is a slam dunk, you may be in for a shock.

Start by making sure you understand your legal rights. Like other drivers, rideshare drivers who sustain injuries as a result of a motor vehicle crash can seek compensation from the motorist who caused the accident. You do this through a personal injury claim, typically paid by the insurance company of the defendant.

What You Have to Prove in a Rideshare Accident Injury Claim

The only way to win your personal injury claim is by proving—with evidence—the following elements:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care—in this case, to drive with appropriate caution and to follow traffic safety laws while operating their vehicle.

  • The other driver breached this duty of care by taking whatever negligent action led to the accident (speeding, tailgating, driving distracted or while under the influence, etc.).

  • The defendant’s breach of the duty of care owed to you is what caused your injuries and other legally recognized damages, such as lost wages if you were out of work.

You will need evidence to prove negligence on the part of the other driver. An attorney experienced in rideshare accident matters can help.

Insurance Coverage for Rideshare Accidents

A rideshare collision often involves a complicated mix of insurance companies that provide different amounts of coverage at different times. This can make it tough for drivers to figure out what coverage applies to their situation, especially when they’re also coping with serious injuries.

The key players who might be involved in your rideshare accident injury claim include:

  • Your own insurance company, especially if the crash occurs in a no-fault state or if the at-fault driver is uninsured

  • The auto insurance company that provide policies covering Uber or Lyft drivers

  • The auto insurance company of the other motorist(s)

  • Any other party that may share liability, such as the employer of that at-fault driver if they were on the job at the time of the collision or a manufacturing company that created a defective product in your or the other driver’s vehicle (and that party’s insurance carrier)

Uber and Lyft both categorize their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. This means that you won’t be eligible to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, despite being working at the time of the collision. Instead, you would pursue a third-party personal injury claim.

Pursuing a Claim Against Your Own Insurance Company

If you live in a no-fault state, your own insurance company will cover your medical benefits up to your personal injury protection (PIP) policy limits. This is the case regardless of who is at fault, although you can seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company for damages that include your medical bills if you pursue a personal injury claim.

The other time when you might seek compensation from your own insurance company is if you need to use your uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This might happen if you have damages like lost wages and pain and suffering but the person who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages.

Seeking Compensation From Uber or Lyft’s Insurance Policies

Uber and Lyft both provide insurance to rideshare drivers and passengers using their apps, but the specifics of those policies vary depending on state law. These policies only kick in at certain points in the process of accepting and completing a ride request. Generally, here’s what you can expect:

  • From the time you turn on your rideshare app to begin work to the time you are actually matched with a passenger, you have limited coverage through the rideshare company’s auto insurance policy.

  • After you are matched with a passenger and for the duration of the ride, you are covered by an auto insurance policy that includes at least $1 million of third-party liability coverage (which may be split between victims, including the driver and their passengers). After you drop off your passenger, your coverage reverts back to the limited coverage that applies while you are waiting for your next passenger.

This means that very different levels of insurance coverage could apply depending on whether you were waiting to be matched with a passenger or in the middle of completing a ride request. That’s true even if all other variables—like the injuries you suffered and the negligence that led to the crash—were the same. If you’re not currently accepting rides or using the rideshare app, Uber and Lyft’s insurance policies do not apply, even if you were driving for them earlier in the day.

Usually, you would be primarily pursuing a claim against the driver who caused the collision. The coverage provided by Uber or Lyft would typically take the form of UM/UIM coverage in this instance, standing in if the at-fault driver doesn’t have sufficient coverage to compensate you.

Suing the At-Fault Driver for a Rideshare Accident

When Uber and Lyft drivers are hurt in accidents that are someone else’s fault, that person is the one you would sue first. Regardless of whether or not you were acting as a rideshare driver at the time, this motorist is the one whose negligence caused the accident. That makes this party liable for the harm that resulted.

Car accident victims sue at-fault drivers every day, but that doesn’t mean getting the full amount of money you’re entitled to will be easy. Insurance companies aren’t eager to pay out claims. They want to avoid paying entirely or pay as little as possible, a goal that’s in direct opposition to you getting the money you need to get better and get your life back on track.

The Most Common Obstacles That Keep Rideshare Drivers From Getting Compensation for Injuries

Many car accident victims never get the money they really deserve. That includes rideshare drivers injured through someone else’s negligence.

The three challenges that most often prevent Uber and Lyft drivers from making a financial recovery include:

Figuring out which insurance company or companies you should file a claim with

Getting this step wrong can have huge consequences. You could be leaving a lot of money on the table by not including an insurer in your lawsuit.

In a more extreme, but plausible, scenario, you could walk away with nothing if you don’t find out until too late that you missed the insurance company with the most responsibility for your claim. The insurance company you name in your lawsuit could pass the blame onto another company, and if the deadline to file a lawsuit has already passed, you will have no further recourse.

The insurance company denying the claim

Claim denials can happen even in relatively uncomplicated car accident cases, especially if an insurance adjuster believes the company can get out of paying a claim on a technicality. However, it’s even more common for insurers to deny claims involving rideshare drivers.

An insurance company—the rideshare company’s or even your own—may claim that coverage does not apply based on whether or not you were accepting rides at the time of the crash and whether you had informed your insurance carrier that you were driving for Uber or Lyft.

Accepting a lowball settlement

Some obstacles end in an injured rideshare driver receiving some money, just not as much money as they deserve.

This can be a real problem, because the compensation you get from a car accident claim is supposed to help you afford the cost of all of the medical care you need now and in the future, as well as making up for any lost wages and the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. Not getting the full amount of compensation for your damages may mean you never make the physical and mental recovery you could have made, and it could leave your family struggling financially.

If an insurance adjuster offers you a settlement, especially early on in the claims process, there’s a good chance it’s a lowball settlement. That means it’s less than you really deserve. At the very least, you should have one of our experienced attorneys review your settlement offer—for free—to find out if it’s a reasonable offer or if you’re leaving money on the table.

Hiring an attorney can help you overcome each of these obstacles. At Console & Associates, we will draw on our decades of experience to identify and initiate claims with all potentially liable parties. With us on your side, you won’t have to worry about unfair claim denials or the pressure to accept a lowball settlement offer.

It costs nothing to speak to a legal professional about your case and nothing upfront to hire our dedicated attorneys on a no-win, no-fee basis. Find out if you have a claim with a free, no-risk consultation.

© 2021 by Console and Associates. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 18
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About this Author

Richard Console Personal Injury Attorney Console and Associates Law Firm
Attorney + Principal

Richard P. Console, Jr. is the founder of Console and Associates, P.C., based in Marlton, NJ. He opened his firm to serve one purpose: to help the victims of accidents and injuries at a time when they most need assistance. That guiding principle helped him create a personal injury law firm with a remarkable record of success. The firm handles personal injury claims of all kinds, including motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, and medical malpractice cases. In over 25 years of practicing personal injury law, the firm’s team of experienced attorneys has helped more than 6,000...

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