How is Liability Determined in Rideshare Car Accidents?
September 23, 2021
When it comes to insurance coverage, car accidents involving rideshare drivers may be complicated. Depending upon the circumstances, rideshare companies, such as Lyft and Uber, may also be held liable for damages if the accident was the rideshare driver’s fault. If you are injured in a rideshare accident, either as a pedestrian, rideshare passenger, or another driver, the best way to protect your rights is to consult an experienced lawyer who is familiar with the current laws and company policies affecting liability and coverage limits.
Determining liability for damages in rideshare accidents is increasingly important because more people are using Uber and Lyft each year. Uber claims that there are more than 3 million Uber trips per day in the U.S. Estimates for Lyft are about 1 million trips per day.
Some studies suggest that a rideshare service may be contributing to more fatal accidents. On one hand, rideshare services have been credited for reducing drunk driving car accident fatalities. On the other hand, some experts believe that some rideshare drivers may be accident-prone because they are driving while drowsy, or they are less alert for the following reasons:
- Federal regulations do not require rideshare drivers to be regularly screened for medical problems that can reduce alertness.
- Rideshare drivers often moonlight for Uber or Lyft after putting in a full day’s work at another day job.
- Many rideshare drivers pick up passengers late at night when sleepiness tends to peak, making drowsy driving almost unavoidable.
- Rideshare drivers often work for both Uber and Lyft. This allows them to circumvent their company-mandated rest periods. Lyft, for example, requires workers to take a six-hour break for every 12 hours they are in driver mode. However, there is nothing to prevent the driver from going online for Uber during that rest period.
How is Liability in a Rideshare Accident Similar to a Truck Accident?
Liability for damages in a rideshare accident is similar to a truck accident because rideshare companies may also be held responsible if their driver is at fault, just as trucking companies may be held liable if one of their employees caused the crash. However, there are some differences. Unlike truck drivers, rideshare drivers are not considered full-time employees. Instead, a rideshare company’s liability depends on the driver’s status, which will be one of the following:
- Driver’s rideshare app is off.
- Driver is waiting for a trip request.
- Driver has a passenger or is en route to a pickup.
Rideshare companies are not liable for damages in an accident caused by one of their drivers if the driver is offline. In that circumstance, the amount of liability is limited to the driver’s personal car insurance coverage. In Pennsylvania, rideshare drivers are required to provide proof of insurance to work for a rideshare company.
Rideshare drivers are free to select personal car insurance policies with higher coverage limits. However, many drivers only pay for the minimum amount of coverage, which is rarely enough to pay for hospitalization and follow-up treatment that individuals often need to recover from car accident injuries.
How Much can Rideshare Companies Pay Out in Damages?
Rideshare companies may be held liable for damages arising from accidents caused by their drivers who are online and using their app. The amount of damages that Uber and Lyft will pay if they are liable in an accident are as follows:
- Driver is online and waiting for a ride request. Up to $50,000 in bodily injury per person/$100,000 in bodily injury per accident, $25,000 in property damage per accident.
- Driver is en route to pick up riders or during a trip. Up to $1 million liability plus contingent comprehensive and collision damage up to cash value of the damaged car with a $2,500 deductible.
It is important to note that these are upper limits. Getting Uber or Lyft to pay full recovery of damages is no easy task. Rideshare companies will send their insurance representatives to investigate any accident involving their drivers and they may be incented to deny or minimize any claims made by injured third parties. That is why it is very important for individuals injured in rideshare accidents to contact a qualified lawyer to represent them when negotiating with the insurance companies involved.
Are Rideshare Companies Liable if a Pedestrian is Hit?
Rideshare companies may also be held liable for injuries to pedestrians who are hit by a rideshare driver as long as the driver was online and used the app at the time of the accident. The same coverage limits apply, with up to $1 million dollars in bodily injury if the driver had passengers or was en route to pick up passengers.
What Types of Injuries are Compensable?
The types of injuries sustained in rideshare accidents that may be compensable include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Herniated discs
- Arm and leg fractures
- Knee injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
Our skilled lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have obtained a significant number of settlements on behalf of clients who were injured in all types of auto accidents:
- $4.5 million settlement for a client who was left paralyzed by a spinal cord injury that was caused in a car accident.
- $1.1 settlement for a client who experienced a closed head injury after being hurt in a car crash.
- $750,000 settlement for an accident-related herniated disc. Our lawyers recovered $750,000 for a man who suffered a herniated disc in his neck from injuries sustained in an auto accident.
Every accident is different, and the amount of compensation provided to an injured individual depends upon the severity of the injury, the medical expenses incurred, and the pain and suffering involved.
Who is Liable for Accidents Caused by Food Delivery Service Drivers?
Liability for a car accident caused by an Uber Eats, DoorDash, or other food delivery service driver is not exactly the same as it is in rideshare accidents. Liability and coverage limits differ depending on which food delivery service is involved. Uber Eats is only liable when a driver is actually picking up or delivering food, not when they are waiting for an order. The amount of coverage for Uber Eats also varies from state to state.
Similarly, DoorDash insurance applies only to accidents while a driver is on an active delivery, heading out to pick up the food, or delivering food to the customer. This insurance applies only after the driver exhausts the limit of their own auto insurance policy first.
Laws and company policies involving rideshare and food delivery services are still evolving. A qualified lawyer can provide sound guidance regarding current laws and insurance coverage provided by Uber, Lyft, and other companies that employ independent contractors as drivers.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Protect the Rights of Clients Injured in Rideshare Accidents
Those injured in rideshare accidents need the help of a skilled lawyer. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP protect the rights of clients injured in rideshare accidents. If you have been seriously hurt in a rideshare accident, call us today at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.