Jennifer Reed was driving for Uber when she rear-ended another car while waiting to pick up a passenger. Uber insurance states that she should have been covered, but both her personal insurance and the company carrier denied her claim. If one of their own drivers can’t receive justice, other motorists may wonder if they can sue a rideshare company after an accident.
Rideshare Insurance Is Confusing
Companies who contract with individuals to drive for them carry insurance on the contractors’ cars, but the policy details can be very specific and confusing. As Jennifer learned, even if the agreement says a driver is protected, the company can refuse to pay the claim. Insurance companies hate paying out money and will fight hard to reduce or deny claims from anyone.
Uber and Lyft carry minimum insurance requirements for situations when the driver doesn’t have a passenger in the car. These are usually determined by limits in each state. However, there are only three main situations when this insurance is in effect:
Logged in to the App
Rideshare drivers are considered “on the clock” when they have logged into the app and are waiting for a request. Jennifer Reed was doing just this when she was in her accident. The minimum amounts are usually $50,000 for bodily injury per person, up to a total of $100,000 per accident. Property damage only covers up to $25,000, but even this was not allowed in Jennifer’s case.
Picking Up Passengers
When a rideshare driver is in the process of picking up a passenger, such as when Jennifer was traveling to meet her rider, Lyft and Uber both offer a minimum of $1 million in comprehensive liability insurance. The higher coverage in this situation is because the driver is actively working for the rideshare company, driving to pick up a rider when they would normally not necessarily be driving.
The same $1 million coverage applies when passengers are traveling to their destination. The coverage is for liability and comprehensive collision damages. This increase is because the company legally leases the car from the owner when transporting passengers. In effect, Uber or Lyft “own” the vehicle for the time that a paying rider is inside the car.
Understanding Liability in a Rideshare Car Accident
Determining liability is critical in understanding who should pay for damages and injuries. If a rideshare driver is at fault, the victim can file against the driver’s personal automotive insurance. If the driver met any of the requirements to trigger company insurance, then the claim can be placed with that carrier.
A third possibility is when another motorist collides with the Uber or Lyft vehicle and is responsible for the crash. Lead singer John Flansburgh of the band They Might Be Giants was recently injured when another driver t-boned into his rideshare vehicle, flipping it onto its side. In a situation like this, the other driver is at-fault and should pay the costs.
While insurance is the first option when a rideshare vehicle is involved, sometimes the coverage isn’t enough for the injuries suffered. In these cases, filing a personal injury lawsuit can help victims recover what they are owed. Significant hospital bills, property damage, and emotional suffering can lead to lost wages and financial burdens.
Filing a Claim After a Rideshare Accident
Whether for insurance or a lawsuit, victims must prove liability and support for all their damages. A skilled attorney will gather evidence to show negligence and how the injuries and expenses are a direct result of the defendant’s actions. A personal injury lawyer can help calculate the full list of past, present, and future losses, so their client receives a fair settlement or jury award.
States like Oklahoma have statutes of limitations, meaning cases must be filed within a certain period of time. Oklahoma requires a legal action to be submitted to the court within two years of the date of the accident. Waiting too long means the victim could lose their chance to secure reimbursement.
Rideshare claims can be difficult and complicated. Negotiating with insurance adjusters or litigating in court against a large company demands a thorough knowledge of the law. It’s not something victims should face without the help of an experienced lawyer who pushes back aggressively to ensure justice is served.
A Rideshare Claim Could Be Worth a Lot
While using an Uber or Lyft can be a better choice than driving home after a night at the bars, patrons also put themselves at risk since it’s hard to know if a driver is careful. Rideshare apps provide ratings, but there is still a chance a driver is having a bad night or just isn’t a good motorist. Another concern is if the car malfunctions or someone else hits the vehicle. A rideshare accident can be just as damaging as any other car crash.
This means victims can suffer severe injuries, such as whiplash, internal bleeding, broken bones, or head injuries. Some conditions may not appear immediately or could require lengthy treatment periods. If the rider takes a car service home from the airport, they may suffer personal property damage to their luggage, computer, and mobile devices in addition to bodily injuries.
Creating a complete list of damages means examining all the economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages are things such as medical bills, property repair or replacement costs, and lost wages. Non-economic losses include pain and suffering, disfigurement, PTSD, and other experiences that are just as impactful as physical injuries. All of these must be included when determining what the victim has suffered.
In circumstances where the injuries and damage are severe or even catastrophic, settlements can be worth millions of dollars. Claims must account for past expenses and plan for future surgeries, medications, or other care needed for the victim to make a full recovery. Regardless of how much a claim is worth, having the guidance of a qualified attorney can make the difference in how successfully a person can return to their life.
If you have been involved in a rideshare accident, schedule a free consultation today or call at 918-359-6600 to discuss the details of your case.