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Who is Liable When You’re Injured in a Rideshare Crash?

August 10th, 2019

In the last few years, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have exploded in popularity throughout the U.S. It’s impossible to visit the airport or any neighborhoods with bars or restaurants, without running into multiple cars with a rideshare logo in their window stopped at the curb with their hazards flashing, dropping off or picking up riders. But for all the convenience offered by these services, studies of traffic accident statistics following the expansion of Uber and similar services indicate that ridesharing may be increasing the number of collisions and other accidents on the road.  

Traffic Accidents on the Rise as Rideshare Services Like Uber Increase Nationwide Ridesharing Accident Statistics

In October 2018, a groundbreaking study was published on the prevalence of traffic accidents in relation to the increased footprint of ridesharing companies across the U.S. Researchers from the University of Chicago and Rice University explored traffic data collected by NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and learned that in cities where companies like Uber began operating, traffic accident rates increased significantly. In fact, although the number of traffic accidents had been declining nationwide prior to 2010 (the approximate year when ridesharing services began taking hold nationwide), that trend reversed itself and traffic accidents began to increase (again, just as ridesharing gained steam). Additional research is underway to determine if this is a long-term trend and to isolate what it might be about ridesharing that has led to increased numbers of accidents.

How Ridesharing Might Lead to Negligent Driving That Could Support Liability in a Personal Injury Lawsuit 

Ridesharing can be complicated. Drivers often stop in the middle of busy streets or even double-park illegally to pick up passengers. As any Uber passenger knows, some drivers have multiple phones hooked up to their dashboards, each displaying different information. Some phones display navigation apps like Waze, some are linked to Uber, some are linked to other companies like Lyft, and the driver is trying to take in all this information and still keep their eyes on the road at the same time. 

Uber has a high turnover rate among drivers, so you may be in a car with an inexperienced driver who is navigating an unfamiliar part of town. Your driver may have been on the road for hours that day and could be fatigued. All these factors can potentially contribute to negligent driving and an accident in which you can be injured, either as a passenger or as another driver on the road who collides with an Uber.  Determining liability in such a situation can be tricky.

Who is Liable When You Are Injured as a Driver Who Gets Into a Collision with a Ridesharing Driver?

In an auto accident where you are the driver of one vehicle and an Uber or other rideshare driver is operating the other vehicle, normal auto accident fault rules typically apply. If an Uber driver drove negligently (without taking reasonable care for the safety of others on the road) and caused you to suffer an injury as a result, you may be able to recover monetary damages from that Uber driver in a civil lawsuit or by making an insurance claim against their personal or commercial auto insurance policy.  

If the Uber driver was at fault for the accident, and if they were actively driving for Uber at the time of the accident, Uber’s commercial auto insurance policy could possibly cover your damages. Uber drivers are routinely required to carry a personal auto insurance policy in addition to Uber’s commercial auto insurance policy, and you could make a claim on that personal policy if the Uber driver was not logged into the Uber app, was not going to pick up or transporting a passenger, and was not otherwise driving on a commercial basis using Uber at the time of the accident that they caused.  But if the Uber driver was operating the vehicle for ridesharing purposes at the time of the accident, Uber’s commercial policy, not the driver’s personal policy, will likely pick up the tab for any accident and resulting injuries for which the Uber driver was at fault, however, there are many factors which can effect the possible resolution of your case. It is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more.  

Who is Liable When You Are Injured as a Passenger in an Uber Accident?  

Uber has a substantial commercial liability insurance policy (currently a $1 million policy offered through James River Insurance). If your Uber driver is at fault for the accident in which you are injured, and if the driver was operating their vehicle while conducting ridesharing business (driving you to your location while you were using the Uber app, for example), you can likely make a claim against Uber’s commercial insurance policy.  (Third parties, such as pedestrians hit by Uber drivers as they were just crossing the street, can also make claims against this commercial policy).  

If, on the other hand, your Uber driver was not at fault for the accident in which you were injured as a passenger, you likely cannot make a claim against that Uber driver’s commercial or personal insurance policies. You would need to make a claim against the personal auto insurance policy of the other driver who caused the accident that hurt you.  That said, if you were an Uber passenger at the time of the accident, the company offers a $1 million underinsured or uninsured motorist policy that may cover you if the non-Uber driver who caused the accident is carrying inadequate or no liability insurance. These liability issues can be complicated, and if you were injured while riding in an Uber, it may be in your best interest to consult a qualified personal injury attorney without delay. 

Before You Agree to a Settlement, Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber driver, you should consult with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney before accepting any settlement agreement. In fact, it is much more advantageous to have a lawyer negotiate with the insurance carriers from the very beginning to ensure you are paid the full value of your claim.

At The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, our team of skilled and experienced personal injury lawyers have helped countless clients recover the compensation they were entitled to following an accident, including claims involving a ridesharing driver. If you were injured in an accident that you believe was caused due to the negligence of an Uber or Lyft driver, contact our team today for a complimentary consultation of your case. 

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