With Uber and Lyft becoming a mainstream convenience, most people don't think twice when getting into a ride share vehicle. The number one concern is getting from point A to point B in a fast, cost-efficient manner. However, what ride share passengers don't think about is what happens if they get into an auto accident during their trip.
What is ride share?
Ride share is a service that allows individuals to provide the equivalent of taxi services using their own vehicle. Through an app, anyone can "request a ride" and be picked up by the nearest ride share vehicle and taken to the location indicated. The most common ride share companies are Uber and Lyft.
Are ride share companies liable for their drivers?
Ride sharing drivers are not employees of the company they are driving for. These companies do not hire their drivers, and they do not own, operate, or control their cars like a traditional taxi service. Therefore, in most cases, Uber and Lyft do not claim legal responsibility for their drivers.
Uber and Lyft require their drivers to have personal car insurance that meets or exceeds the state minimums for liability coverage. However, this insurance may not be applicable while an individual is driving for hire. Uber and Lyft both provide liability coverage for their drivers, and each company has adopted policies with coverage that varies depending on whether the accident occurs before, during, or after a driver accepts a ride request.
What happens when an Uber/Lyft driver causes an accident?
As with any accident, liability and damages must be proven for a party to receive compensation. If you were hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, you must prove that that individual was negligent, therefore causing the accident to occur.
Because ride share companies do not claim legal responsibility for their drivers, if the negligent party in the accident was an Uber or Lyft driver, your case will be against that individual and will proceed like any other auto accident claim. However, ride share services can be held financially responsible when you are a non-negligent driver involved in an accident with an active ride share driver. Therefore, it may be difficult to determine whose insurance company will apply to your claim: the driver's or the ride share company's.
If you become involved in a ride share accident, it is wise to hire your own attorney. Personal injury claims can be complex, and it is best to discuss your situation with an experienced professional to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve to recover from your losses.