Injuries caused by an Uber or Lyft driver are the responsibility of the company, the rideshare driver, and their insurance companies, right? You simply want to be covered for your injuries. It appears, however, that the ridesharing companies and their drivers have been in disputes with their insurance carriers. Predictably, it is the rideshare services' insurance companies that want to limit their liability, but why should you be caught in the middle of that battle between insurers?
Ridesharing is growing due to its benefits. Uber often provides quicker pick-up and cheaper service than regular taxis. Uber's requirements for its rideshare drivers and cars mean you will ride in a newer, well-equipped, and clean car knowing that the driver has passed a background, driving, and security check. What could be wrong? Insurance providers' failure to accept responsibility for a rideshare car accident or accidents looks to be the issue.
Uber’s website states that it provides “end-to-end insurance coverage.” However, there seems to be some question about who is responsible when an Uber driver causes a collision prior to passenger pick-up. Ridesharing companies and their insurers are currently involved in a number of disputes across the country. While the insurance companies squabble amongst themselves, the injured party is left holding the bag.
How Illinois courts resolve these responsibility issues will determine whether you can collect damages for injuries suffered in a rideshare car accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, whose insurance company is responsible, and most importantly, how much insurance is available.
The Debate over Whose Insurance Provides Coverage for a Rideshare Accident
The rideshare industry and insurance company strategies are in a state of flux. And, with the passage of laws and issuance of court decisions, the insurance and liability rules are changing. As an injured passenger, biker, or pedestrian you just need some insurance company to step up. You do not want to be caught in the middle of a spat between driver and company, or between two insurance companies. A great Chicago Uber accident lawyer can help you with that.
Whether the injuries you sustained in an accident are covered by Uber, Lyft, or the private driver with whom you connected, can depend on what stage the driver was at in the process of providing you or someone else a ride.
Trolling: Drivers have their phone app open and have logged on to the network indicating they are available to accept a ride, but currently have not accepted a call to provide transportation. Until recently, Uber's insurance claimed it was not liable for any accident that occurred when a driver was available but had not received a call.
A San Francisco Uber driver struck and killed a six-year-old girl while the driver was logged on to the Uber app, but was between fares. After nearly two years of litigation, with Uber denying liability, Uber finally agreed to settle the case. The company issued a statement saying that it now expanded liability coverage in its insurance to “cover accidents that occur while drivers are not providing transportation service for hire but are logged onto the Uber network and available to accept a ride.”
Heading to Pick Up Passenger: Drivers have accepted a match and are on their way to pick up the rider.
Driving a Passenger: Passengers are in the Uber driver’s car on the way to their destination.
No matter what stage drivers are in, there is generally no coverage for rideshare accidents under the driver’s private insurance policy unless they purchased a supplemental commercial policy. If the driver is heading to pick up a passenger or is transporting a passenger, the rideshare company's insurance should be primarily responsible.
Debate over whether Drivers are Employees or Independent Contractors
The answer to this question may not matter if the ridesharing company insurance covers the accident. Some laws now require drivers to have their own personal insurance policy of $50,000 to $100,000 with the rideshare vehicle or company policy carrying the next layer of insurance coverage up to $1,000,000.
Employers are generally liable for injuries caused by the negligence of their employees. Employees are legal agents of their employers. Uber claims its drivers are independent contractors, not employees. This distinction would mean that Uber is not responsible for damages even if your injuries are caused by a negligent Uber driver.
Uber drivers have filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that they are not independent contractors but employees. Just last month, the judge granted the driver's class-action status. The outcome of the litigation will affect not only the Uber drivers but possibly anyone who was injured due to the negligence of the rideshare driver. If drivers of rideshare vehicles are found to be employees, rideshare companies can be sued for the negligence of their drivers.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do rideshare and taxi accident cases differ from regular car accident cases?
- Rideshare and taxi accident cases can differ from regular car accident cases due to the involvement of specific companies and their insurance policies. Rideshare companies often have different liability and insurance coverage depending on whether the driver was on duty, transporting a passenger, or awaiting a ride request. Taxi companies may also have specific regulations and insurance requirements. A rideshare or taxi accident attorney understands these complexities and can navigate through them to protect your rights effectively.
- Can I handle a rideshare or taxi accident case on my own without hiring an attorney?
- While it is possible to handle a rideshare or taxi accident case on your own, it can be challenging and risky, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal process and the specific complexities of these types of cases. Insurance companies and other parties involved may try to minimize their liability or offer insufficient settlements. Hiring a rideshare or taxi accident attorney can level the playing field, protect your rights, and significantly increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation.
Our Chicago Rideshare Accident Attorneys Can Help
If you were injured in an Uber or Lyft vehicle accident, you need the assistance of experienced rideshare injury attorneys who also know how insurance litigation works. Please call or text the Blumenshine Law Group at (312)766-1000 or email email@example.com. We offer a free consultation so you can tell us about your claim and we can determine how best to help you.