If you’ve been hurt in a crash involving an Uber or Lyft vehicle as a passenger, another driver, or a bystander, you might be feeling upset, anxious, and confused: Who pays for your injuries, the driver or the company? Does the driver technically work for Uber? How do the laws surrounding these services even work, anyway?
Most people don’t think about these questions until something goes terribly wrong, which is understandable. For an average rider, an Uber or Lyft trip is the warm-up or wind-down to an evening out with friends or loved ones, not a time to worry about serious injury.
Unfortunately, as ridesharing services become more and more popular and more Uber and Lyft vehicles share the road, related crashes and injuries are becoming more common too — and so are the many questions about what happens when a rider or another driver gets hurt and needs to file a lawsuit.
Can I Sue Uber or Lyft Directly After a Crash?
This is probably the first question that many people ask after an accident that involves an Uber or Lyft ride. After all, the company certainly has a lot more money available to pay for an injury than an individual driver, and the ridesharing company may have been partially responsible for the crash if they didn’t properly screen the driver in question.
Unfortunately, suing the ridesharing company itself after a crash usually isn’t an option. Drivers for Lyft, Uber, and other similar ridesharing companies are almost always classified as independent contractors rather than employees, which means the company generally isn’t liable for the negligent actions of their drivers.
This is no happy coincidence for the ridesharing companies — they’re well aware that classifying their drivers as independent contractors protects them from crash-related lawsuits (in addition to all sorts of labor laws), and they’ve fought hard in court to keep things that way.
Thankfully, though, this doesn’t mean that a lawsuit after an Uber or Lyft crash will come down to you versus the driver and his personal insurance policy. If you’ve been hurt in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you have options for compensation thanks to the insurance policies these companies carry for each vehicle.
Understanding Insurance Coverage for Uber and Lyft Crashes
All reputable ride-sharing companies require their drivers to have their own auto insurance coverage, and the more prominent companies — including Uber and Lyft — also have additional insurance policies in place to protect both the driver and passengers in case of a crash.
Uber and Lyft have insurance policies with similar structures, as you can see by looking at the image below.
Both companies maintain three “layers” of insurance coverage in case of a crash. (Although they claim to have a fourth layer of coverage, it’s really just the driver’s personal insurance policy.) Which layers of coverage apply depends on which phase of the ride your driver was in at the time of the crash:
- If the driver had their Uber/Lyft app off and wasn’t working at the time of the crash, they are covered only by their personal auto insurance policy.
- If the driver had their app on in driver mode but didn’t have an active ride at the time, they are covered by liability insurance up to:
- $50,000 per person for bodily injury
- $100,000 per accident total for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
- From the time the driver accepts a ride request until they drop that passenger off, they are covered by auto liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage up to $1 million per accident for injuries; for property damage, they’re covered by contingent collision and comprehensive coverage up to the cash value of the vehicle or the repair cost, whichever is less.
Based on the coverage available, if you’ve been hurt in a crash that involves an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you may be eligible to get compensation for your injuries according to the damages that exist in your case, which might include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
How Do I File a Lawsuit After an Uber or Lyft Crash?
As with any car accident, it is possible to file a personal injury claim related to an Uber or Lyft crash without the help of an experienced attorney, but you may end up feeling frustrated and even overwhelmed by the massive amount of work and organization that goes into filing one of these claims.
Besides keeping an intricate record of all your medical bills and expenses as well as all of the details related to your crash, you’ll need to deal with the insurance company, who will try to minimize your claim and pay you as little as possible. (That’s not unique to the insurance policies that Uber and Lyft carry — it’s true in any car accident-related lawsuit.) You’ll also have to handle all the procedural work that goes into filing a lawsuit, which involves lots of paperwork and keeping track of many different deadlines and timeframes.
None of this is meant to say that it’s impossible to get compensation after an Uber or Lyft crash without hiring a lawyer. However, the more complex your case is — for example, if it involves multiple injured parties who are all filing claims against the same insurance policy — the lower the chances you’ll be able to succeed without any help.
If you want to know that your case is in good hands as you focus on your physical and emotional recovery, you may want to speak with an experienced injury attorney about your case — especially if the injuries you suffered are serious.
Contact Perry Charnoff if You’ve Been Injured by an Uber or Lyft Vehicle in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington D.C.
If you have been seriously injured or even lost a loved one in a car accident involving an Uber or Lyft vehicle, please contact the experienced trial attorneys at Perry Charnoff PLLC. We’re here to make sure that your rights are protected and that your losses, pain, and suffering are addressed. We’ll fight aggressively in court if necessary to see that you get the compensation you deserve.
We offer free initial consultations, and our contingent fee policy guarantees that you won’t pay attorney fees unless we’re able to get compensation for you. Please call us today at (703) 291-6650 or fill out our easy online contact form to schedule your free consultation today.
Insurance: How you’re covered. (n.d.). Uber. Retrieved from https://www.uber.com/drive/insurance/
Insurance policy. (n.d.). Lyft. Retrieved from https://help.lyft.com/hc/en-us/articles/213584308-Insurance-Policy
McCormick, R. (2016, April 1). Uber settles lawsuits to keep drivers as independent contractors in California and Massachusetts. The Verge. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/21/11485424/uber-suit-california-Massachusetts-drivers-employee-contractor
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.