Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have become increasingly popular over recent years. By opting for a rideshare, motorists reduce their carbon footprint and save money on gas and parking. If there’s any doubt about the massive growth of the industry, consider that in 2018, 36% of Americans said they had used a ride-hailing service, compared to just 15% in 2015. In some cities, ridesharing accounts for as much as 14% of vehicle miles traveled.
But where do you stand if your Uber or Lyft driver is in a car accident while you’re in the back seat? Can you claim compensation for your injuries? We explain who can be liable for a rideshare accident and what you should do if you’re in one.
Who Can Be Liable for a Rideshare Accident?
A car accident can happen in any number of ways, and several parties could be liable.
- The rideshare driver
- Another driver
- The rideshare company
- A third party
The exact nature of your accident can help you determine who might be liable. Consider the following three scenarios:
- You request a ride using your Uber app, and the driver picks you up. En route to your destination, your driver runs a red light and T-bones a car coming through an intersection.
- You’re in the backseat of a Lyft vehicle and approaching a stop light. The driver begins to brake and slow down when the car behind suddenly rear-ends you. An investigation later finds that the driver of the vehicle behind was texting and didn’t see your driver braking.
- You are picked up by your rideshare driver when they begin shouting at another driver on the road. This escalates into the rideshare driver trying to force the other car off the road, resulting in a crash. It later transpires the rideshare driver has a history of violent behavior.
In each of these scenarios, a different party is responsible for the rideshare accident. In the first, the rideshare driver is clearly at fault. In the second, the driver who rear-ended the vehicle you were in is at fault. In the final scenario, while the rideshare driver is liable for their conduct, the rideshare company could also be responsible for failing to screen the driver. Had they done so, the driver would not have been allowed to pick up fares.
Which party is responsible for your accident will influence your options for recovering compensation.
What Compensation Can You Claim after a Rideshare Accident?
Texas is a fault state, which means if you’re in a car accident — including a rideshare accident — that wasn’t your fault, you can recover the costs you’ve incurred from the insurance company of the person or party responsible.
This can include:
- Past and future medical expenses for hospitalization, medication, surgery, rehabilitation, and any other treatment for injuries
- Past and future lost wages from being unable to work due to your injuries
- Additional compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and mental anguish.
For this reason, all drivers in Texas must have liability insurance, with a minimum coverage requirement of $30,000 for each injured person, $60,000 for injuries per incident, and $25,000 for property damage.
This extends to Uber or Lyft drivers too, but there is a caveat.
Recovering Compensation for a Rideshare Accident When the Rideshare Driver Is Responsible
Many personal car insurance policies do not provide coverage when a driver is using their vehicle for business purposes, which can make it difficult to recover damages when you’re in a rideshare accident.
On top of this, rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors in Texas — not employers of the rideshare company they’re driving for. So does this mean you can’t recover compensation from Uber or Lyft if the rideshare driver is responsible for your accident?
Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies provide liability coverage of up to $1 million for their drivers, but certain criteria need to be met for this to apply.
Ridesharing companies determine how much — if any — insurance coverage applies based on which “period” the driver is in.
These periods are as follows:
Period 0: When a driver isn’t logged into the Uber or Lyft app, the rideshare company will not provide coverage for any accidents that occur, although the driver’s personal insurance policy might apply.
Period 1: When the driver is logged into the app but hasn’t accepted a fare (or is between fares), the rideshare company will provide coverage of up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 total per accident if the car crash is the driver’s fault.
Period 2: When the driver has accepted a fare but has not yet picked up a customer, coverage increases to $1 million.
Period 3: When the driver has picked up the customer, the $1 million coverage applies.
If you’re injured in an accident while on the way to your destination in an Uber or Lyft, period three will most likely apply, which means you may be able to recover damages from the $1 million liability insurance provided by the rideshare company.
However, it’s vital to note that additional guidelines affect whether you qualify for protection:
- The driver must have accepted the ride request via the app and picked you up.
- You must be in motion during the time of the accident.
- You must still be en route to your destination — the protection will end the moment you reach your destination, even if you remain seated in the vehicle.
If you’re in a rideshare accident caused by the driver who picked you up, it’s vital to get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our San Antonio and McAllen accident lawyers can determine whether you can recover your damages from the rideshare company or the driver’s personal car insurance provider.
Recovering Compensation for a Rideshare Accident When Another Party Is Responsible
If another party is responsible for your accident, such as another driver, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries and expenses.
Sometimes, a third party can be responsible for your car accident. For example, if another driver crashes into you because their brakes fail, the manufacturer may be liable because the auto defect caused the collision.
If both you and the rideshare driver are injured in the crash, you both may be able to recover compensation from the at-fault party.
What to Do If You’re in a Rideshare Accident
Regardless of how your accident happened or who is responsible, there are several steps you should take immediately after a rideshare accident.
Call the Police
Your first step after an accident should be to call the police. You should remain at the scene until police arrive, at which point the attending officer will investigate the crash and compile their findings into a report. The crash report can be a vital piece of evidence for your claim, as it documents your injuries and outlines how the crash happened and the contributing factors (such as speeding, road rage, or driving while distracted).
Law enforcement will also issue citations if required. This can be useful for claiming compensation from the rideshare company, especially if the driver was acting recklessly or has a record.
Take Pictures and Gather Evidence
If you’re not badly injured and it’s safe to get out of the vehicle, you should also begin documenting the scene yourself. If possible, take photographs of the scene, the vehicles involved, and your injuries. These can be helpful to your attorney and can help prove the extent of damage, especially if the liable party tries to dispute it later on.
Seek Medical Attention
You should also go to the doctor or the hospital to attend to your injuries. You should seek medical treatment even if you feel fine and don’t have any visible injuries, as you may have hidden injuries that don’t begin to appear until your adrenaline wears off. In some cases, you might not start to see symptoms until hours or days later. Your car accident lawyer can request copies of your medical records to prove your injuries occurred due to the accident so you can recover the compensation you deserve.
Report the Accident to the Rideshare Company and Insurance Companies
You should then report the accident to your insurance company, the driver’s car insurance company, and the rideshare company. Even if the Uber or Lyft driver offers to report the accident, you should report it separately to ensure all parties have your version of events. This becomes even more crucial if the rideshare driver is at fault, as they likely won’t admit it.
Call an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Car accident claims — especially those involving rideshare accidents — are complex and require significant evidence to prove. Our experienced McAllen and San Antonio personal injury lawyers can investigate your rideshare accident, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies to make sure you get a fair settlement that compensates you for your expenses, pain, and the long-term impact of your injuries.
If you’re in a rideshare accident that wasn’t your fault, you deserve compensation for your injuries and losses. Our 5-star rated car accident lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio can file an Uber or Lyft accident claim on your behalf while you focus on your recovery.
To see if you have a claim and find out how much compensation you could be entitled to, book a free, no-obligation consultation with our personal injury lawyers by calling 855 LAW-NINJA or completing our secure online form.