What happens in the aftermath of an Uber or Lyft car ending up in an accident that causes injuries to the passenger depends on many factors. Because Uber and Lyft are still relatively new, much of the legal process around this has had to develop quickly and could change as time goes on. It’s a much more complicated situation than a routine accident between two noncommercial drivers. In the latter, the two drivers and their auto insurance are the main entities involved in determining financial settlements. But when large companies such as Uber and Lyft are concerned, that adds another potential for responsibility. It can also add another entity seeking to avoid blame while pointing the finger elsewhere. If you’ve been injured while a passenger in an Uber or Lyft car, bring in an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

What Factors Are Involved in Accidents When Riding with Uber or Lyft?

Three primary factors make these cases more complicated than other car accidents. In a nutshell, these factors are intertwined and affect each other so that each situation is unique and benefits from having professional legal help to sort through. Here’s what you need to know about the basics.

Which Driver Was at Fault

This is a significant factor in determining who is responsible for damages and injuries from a car accident. If the driver that’s not the rideshare driver was at fault, their insurance company is expected to pay for the damages and injuries. Multiple things could happen if the rideshare driver is found to be at fault. Because they were engaged in commercial activity (driving to earn money), their personal insurance policy could deny responsibility on the grounds that that type of insurance is for personal use only, not commercial. Rideshare drivers are required to then have a separate insurance policy that covers them while engaged in ride-sharing activities. The driver can file with the rideshare driver’s insurance that specifically covers ridesharing activities, which they can also do if they’re not at fault, but the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance.

If the rideshare driver doesn’t have coverage specific for ridesharing when that driver causes an accident, then that driver would be treated as uninsured.

When the Accident Occurred

Timing is very important in determining liability in Uber and Lyft accidents. There are three separate time frames that affect who may end up responsible.

  1. The rideshare app is turned off. That means the rideshare driver, whether driving for Lyft or Uber, would have to contact their personal auto insurance agent to cover the injuries from the accident.
  2. The rideshare app is turned on, and the rideshare driver is waiting for someone to request the service. The rideshare driver’s commercial insurance will provide third-party liability protection based on applicable state law.
  3. The last time frame is when a passenger is riding in the rideshare. The rideshare driver’s commercial insurance could have more financial involvement, but that can depend on whether or not the accident was the fault of the rideshare driver. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance company is expected to cover the damages. But if that driver either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough, the rideshare driver’s insurance is likely to come into play.

Where the Accident Happened?

Which state the accident happens in can make a big difference as to how the damages and injuries are resolved, as every state has different insurance laws and regulations. In Washington state, a driver who had the rideshare app turned on and was waiting for a ride request could be covered by the rideshare driver’s commercial insurance for a minimum of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries, and $10,000 for property damage. However, many commercial policies that cover ridesharing drivers have third-party liability coverage up to $1 million.

What Should I Do if I’m in an Accident While Riding in an Uber or Lyft Car?

Call us at 509-638-1414 to request a free consultation as soon as possible. Don’t talk to the driver’s insurance company or lawyer or anyone representing Uber or Lyft. Their goal is to pay as little as possible in a settlement. You’ll want to bring in your own attorney right away, because an experienced attorney will know what tactics they’ll use to try and avoid having their client held responsible for the accident. Having a knowledgeable personal injury attorney representing you and your interests in these complex types of cases provides the opportunity for better outcomes for you.

When an accident occurs, assuming that at least one person is physically capable of moving freely, they should collect information from the other drivers or passengers and any witnesses, get the names, license plate data, and insurance information from each driver, and take photos and/or videos of the scene of the accident. Calling the police to file a formal report is necessary too. If possible get a screenshot of the rideshare driver’s web page in case it’s needed going forward.

It’s also essential that everyone involved in the accident is examined and treated by a medical doctor. Sometimes injuries don’t appear on the surface or even immediately after the accident. Some symptoms may not manifest for days.