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Who Is Liable in Ride-Share Accidents?

The Law Office of George O. Haskell April 13, 2018

Let’s face it — stuff happens. When it happens to you through no fault of your own, as is the case with injuries suffered from an accident involving a vehicle driven by a Lyft or Uber driver, your options to seek compensation may be rather limited.

According to numerous attorneys, there is a layer of protection between these companies and liability for collisions because drivers are independent contractors rather than employees. This allows ride-share companies to deny liability for accidents caused by their drivers.

That does not mean that victims are totally without recourse, however. In fact, for the best outcome, one Georgia attorney recommends that passengers take the following steps:

  • Call 911.

  • Take photos of the accident scene.

  • Get names, numbers and email addresses of all witnesses and the drivers involved.

  • Take a screen shot of the ride receipt on your cellphone.

  • Seek treatment immediately to document your injuries.

You should realize that if the driver who was working for Lyft or Uber was at fault, he or she is covered by a million-dollar liability policy written by James River Insurance. If your claim turns into a lawsuit, it’s the at-fault driver who must be served copies of the petition.

One thing that your personal injury attorney should do immediately is mail out preservation of evidence/spoliation letters so that no data from the ride or accident gets deleted or otherwise disposed of. Should the ride-sharing company compromise this evidence in any way, it could potentially face some liability for this breach.

When another driver is at fault, that driver’s insurance policy is the primary one. For very serious accidents where these policies are insufficient to cover the medical expenses, the ride-share companies have million-dollar underinsured motorist policies to be tapped.