The rideshare industry is not as regulated as other forms of transportation, such as a taxi or city bus. Uber and Lyft are private companies that can control their standards for hiring and training drivers. That does not eliminate all driver responsibilities to others, however. In an Uber or Lyft accident, the rideshare driver may carry some degree of legal or financial responsibility depending on the circumstances.
Who Is Liable After an Uber or Lyft Accident?
Uber and Lyft vehicles get into auto accidents every year. Some of these crashes cause severe and fatal injuries to victims. Determining responsibility for these accidents takes understanding the rideshare company’s business model. Uber and Lyft do not take responsibility for their drivers or vehicles. Instead, they hire independent contractors and use their vehicles. This can affect liability after a collision.
In a typical employer-employee, relationship, the employer will be vicariously liable for the actions of the employee during work hours. With Uber and Lyft, this is not the case. The rideshare company may not be legally responsible for the behaviors of its drivers, even if the driver negligently caused an accident, since the drivers are independent contractors.
Yet the California courts may ignore the fact that rideshare drivers are not employees in negligence claims. This could make Uber or Lyft responsible when a negligent or reckless rideshare driver causes injuries. Still, both rideshare companies carry $1 million insurance policies to cover damages after an accident. Each company’s insurance policy may cover passenger damages in a collision, regardless of fault for the accident.
Company vs. Individual Liability
You may be able to hold Uber or Lyft responsible for your damages after a rideshare accident if you were a passenger and the driver was logged into the app at the time of the collision. Both companies maintain that their $1 million insurance policies will cover passenger medical bills as long as the driver was logged into the app. If a rideshare driver causes an accident while not signed into the app, however, victims will not be able to hold the company responsible. Instead, the individual driver may bear legal responsibility.
Determining who is accountable for your damages after a rideshare accident may take an investigation. An attorney may be necessary to find out whether the rideshare driver was using the app at the time of the collision. Uber and Lyft offer different levels of insurance coverage based on the part of the ride service: driving to pick up a passenger, transporting a passenger, and waiting for a ride request. Navigating complex insurance policies as an injured victim is easier with help from an attorney.
What to Do After an Uber/Lyft Accident
If you do not know whose insurance applies to your case after a rideshare accident, contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance. All drivers owe one main responsibility to other roadway users: to exercise a reasonable degree of care. Failure to exercise this degree of care, resulting in a preventable collision, is negligence. You may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against a rideshare driver, Uber/Lyft, or another party if that party caused your accident.
After an accident with an Uber or Lyft, go to the hospital right away. Keep track of your medical bills, police reports, and other crash-related documents. Take photos of any property damage and personal injuries. Report the crash to the police if necessary. Then, report the crash to the rideshare company, either by following the directions on the app or by calling customer support. Speak to a car accident attorney about your rights to determine who might be responsible for paying for your damages. The answer will vary depending on your role in the accident and many other factors.