Years ago, if you needed a ride but didn’t have a car, your only options were calling a taxi, borrowing a car, or asking a friend for a ride. But rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft changed everything. Today, nearly 40 percent of American adults use ridesharing services; many use them on a daily or weekly basis.
Ridesharing apps provide many people with a faster, cheaper transportation option. These services claim that they are safe. But what happens when the ride goes wrong? This post will tell you what you need to know if you are in an Uber accident or Lyft crash.
How Rideshare Services Work
The typical rideshare app allows drivers to earn money by driving other people around town. Drivers download the app. After passing a basic background check, drivers can begin picking up fares and earning money.
Apps like Uber and Lyft pay drivers based on the number of rides they give. Drivers are “on the clock” when they log into the app and accept rides.
Uber and Lyft call their drivers “independent contractors.” An independent contractor is a person who does one specific type of work for a company. This work is usually done in the contractor’s own home (or vehicle).
Who’s Responsible for an Uber Accident?
The easy answer here is that the person who caused the accident is responsible. But the answer is more complicated if “Who’s responsible?” means “Who will pay for my injuries?” This answer depends on what the Uber driver was doing at the time of the accident.
Let’s start with the easiest case: Insurance provided by Uber or Lyft will pay if an Uber driver causes an accident while logged into the app and actively driving a passenger. This means that after an Uber accident, you would file a claim against Uber or Lyft’s insurance policy. Most state laws require rideshare companies to carry large insurance policies for their drivers for just this reason.
Things get a little trickier when there isn’t a passenger onboard. If an Uber driver causes a crash while logged into the app and waiting for a ride request, the rideshare company’s policy usually applies. This means that you could file a claim with Uber or Lyft’s insurance. However, the coverage limits are usually much lower than those that apply when a passenger is in the car.
The final scenario is when an Uber driver who is not logged into the app causes an accident. (For example, the driver finishes a fare, logs out of the app, and decides to make a personal trip.) In this situation, any insurance payment must come from the driver’s personal policy. If you are injured by an Uber driver who is not logged in, your only choice would be to file a claim against the driver’s insurance. You could not file a claim against the Uber or Lyft policy.
Uber Accidents in Alabama: What Does the Law Say?
When rideshare services first came to Alabama, the law limited them to the state’s major cities. But a 2018 law allowed Uber and Lyft drivers to work throughout the state. The 2018 law also outlined the insurance rules for rideshare drivers.
If a driver is carrying a paying passenger, the rideshare company’s policy applies. Alabama requires the companies to carry policies that provide $1 million in liability coverage. In addition, the companies must provide $1 million in uninsured motorist coverage.
If a driver is logged into the app but doesn’t have a request, the rideshare company’s policy comes into play. In Alabama, the policy must provide: 1) $100,000 for injuries; 2) $25,000 for property damage; and 3) $50,000 per person for medical bills. However, this is a secondary policy. This means that you have to file a claim against the driver’s personal policy before the Uber or Lyft policy kicks in.
If the driver is logged off and not driving to a passenger, the driver’s policy will apply. The company’s policy will not. In Alabama, the automobile policy requirements are $25,000 for property damage, $25,000 for bodily injury per person, and $50,000 for bodily injury per accident. Alabama does not require Uber drivers to have ride-for-hire insurance or other protections.
How Can an Attorney Help me after an Uber or Lyft Accident?
An attorney can provide useful guidance after an Uber accident.
First, an attorney can help you prove that the driver was on the clock. While this question may seem like an easy one, if the facts are unclear, an attorney can help you prove that the driver was working at the time of the accident.
Second, Uber and Lyft often fight insurance claims. The companies fight even when it’s clear that the driver was working when the accident occurred. A personal injury lawyer can help you respond.
Third, while the general rule is that a victim cannot sue Uber or Lyft for their drivers’ actions, there are exceptions. A personal injury attorney can help you figure out if your case fits into one of the exceptions.
Finally, remember, rideshare companies consider their drivers contractors, not employees. As a general rule, companies cannot be sued for accidents caused by their contractors. But states like California are passing new laws that make it harder for rideshare companies to treat drivers like contractors. A personal injury attorney can use these new laws to make arguments in your case.
More Questions about Uber or Lyft Accidents?
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of the rules that apply after an Uber or Lyft accident. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, contact Collins Law, LLC. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with accurate legal advice and top-notch customer service. Call us at 205-588-1411 or contact us today for a free consultation.