Ridesharing applications like Uber and Lyft have surged in popularity in recent years for a variety of reasons. Some people use ridesharing as a way to have a fun night out with friends while not having to worry about drinking and driving, while others use them to avoid the pain of airport parking and for other travel-related needs. Whatever the reason, the increased use of Uber and Lyft has led to a corresponding increase in rideshare car accidents, begging the somewhat complex question of who is responsible for an Uber car accident?
Uber drivers are not always driving their vehicles while on the clock for work purposes, and their status – whether on a ride, driving to a ride, or driving between rides – matters greatly in determining their liability for an Uber car accident. The company has over 160,000 active drivers. If you are injured while riding in an Uber or in an accident with an Uber vehicle, a variety of different parties, and thus multiple insurance policies, can potentially be responsible. Since the rideshare driver was operating the vehicle at the time of the accident, they are generally the first to be held liable. Unfortunately, however, their individual insurance coverage may be insufficient to compensate victims for injuries suffered. While Uber and Lyft try to avoid liability for their drivers’ accidents by classifying them as independent contractors and not employees, the courts have not been inclined to shield the companies from responsibility.
Uber Driver Car Accident Insurance
Uber requires all of its drivers to carry state-mandated minimum personal insurance coverage and provides a one-million-dollar insurance policy to cover drivers and passengers injured in car wrecks. Many private insurance companies refuse to cover accidents that occur while ridesharing. In this case, injured parties are left to rely solely on the one-million-dollar commercial policy available from Uber; however, it comes with stipulations. The insurance coverage only becomes available when a driver has the Uber app on while driving.
If the rideshare app is off and inactive, even if the accident is Uber’s fault, only their own personal coverage will be available to injured victims. If the app is on and the driver is working but their vehicle is empty because they have not accepted a ride and they hurt someone, their personal insurance coverage is available and a small portion of contingent coverage from Uber may be available, but only up to $50,000 per injured person and $100,000 total per accident. If the Uber app is on, the driver is working, and is on the way to pick up a passenger (has accepted a trip) or already has a passenger in their car and the Uber driver causes a car accident, only then will the full amount of the contingency policy kick in and be available to those they hurt.
What To Do After an Uber Accident
Since a rideshare accident is obviously more complicated than a regular passenger vehicle collision, the steps you take after a collision are more important than ever. Before speaking with a representative from any insurance company, you should speak to an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney for guidance and counsel. Immediately following an Uber car accident, you should also take the following steps:
- Ensure you and everyone else involved in the accident are stable and safe
- Contact emergency services for assistance, including police and healthcare professionals
- Gather evidence if you are able, including contact information for eyewitnesses, photos and/or videos of the accident scene including the vehicles involved, and photos and/or videos of your injuries
- Get checked out as soon as possible by a medical doctor
- Obtain a copy of the police report or get the incident number so you can obtain it later
- Contact a personal injury lawyer for free advice about your claim
Houston Uber Car Accident Lawyers
If Uber pays out large amounts in rideshare accident claims, that reduces their bottom line. So, it doesn’t make any sense for them to make that process easy. Like most large companies, they’ll do what they can to avoid paying. The Houston car accident attorneys of Krist Law Firm are prepared to help you if you have been hurt in a rideshare accident involving a Lyft or Uber driver.
Whether you were a passenger in the vehicle or if a rideshare driver collided with you as a motorist, passenger, or bystander, we will help you pursue the financial compensation you need to recover. We understand the complex laws surrounding rideshare accidents and the duties of the companies that employ these drivers. When you have been hurt in a Houston car accident, you want a law firm with a proven track record of success. Our nationally recognized, award-winning trial lawyers are ready to put our experience and skills to work for you, so contact us today.