With the proliferation of ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber, the likelihood of passengers being involved in accidents increases.
But who bears liability for any injuries or damages — the individual drivers or the ride-share companies?
As some passengers have discovered, it can be quite difficult to sue the companies after an accident. Here's why.
Drivers are independent contractors
Much like some semitruck drivers, Lyft and Uber drivers are classified not as employees but as independent contractors. That legal loophole allows these companies to wriggle out of a great deal of liability.
That does not mean that injured passengers have no recourse after an accident. If you are involved in a collision while riding as a passenger of a ride-share service, the following tips may bolster your case:
- Make a police report. Insist that the driver call police or dial 911 yourself. This provides you with an official record of the accident.
- Take photos at the accident scene. Document any skid marks, the position of the vehicles and any other relevant circumstances.
- Take names. Make sure that you get the names and contact information for the driver(s) and any witnesses to the auto accident.
- Screen-shot your ride receipt on your smartphone. Make sure not to delete it before emailing a copy to yourself.
Don't worry — you're covered
If the Uber driver was liable in the collision, there's a million-dollar insurance policy in place from James River Insurance. Ditto with Lyft. If your claim doesn't satisfactorily settle, you may need to file a lawsuit naming the driver as a defendant along with the insurance company.
Few claims will likely hit the $1 million liability threshold, fortunately. Claims of that magnitude typically involve catastrophic injuries that can be permanently disabling. But you will probably be able to recover all accident-related medical expenses, including lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
You or your personal injury attorney will also need to send the driver and ride-share companies spoliation letters. These put the parties on notice to preserve all evidence and data regarding your ride and the subsequent accident.
When the other driver is at fault
When another motorist caused the accident, you'll have to pursue him or her for any financial recovery. If the driver had no insurance or was underinsured, the ride-share companies have policies in place to cover such claims.
Source: Money, "My Uber Got Into a Wreck. Can I Sue?," Alicia Adamczyk, accessed June 01, 2018