Getting into an accident was already complicated enough before the rise of ridesharing companies across the country. It’s only gotten harder since, as questions of who to file the claim against in the case of an accident reveal.
However, as you’ll see, it isn’t as complicated as it might at first seem. We’ll look at how we determine responsibility for a ride-sharing accident, as well as what happens if you’re injured as a passenger in a ride-sharing vehicle. The most complicated part will come at the end, as determining liability involves asking a few questions that you wouldn’t have to at the scene of a non-ride-sharing accident.
Who Is Responsible in a Ride-Sharing Accident?
Because of the way that California has set things up, the responsibility for pretty much any accident comes down to the idea of negligence. This is true whether or not you were in your car alone, driving friends, or working as a rideshare driver. The individual whose negligence caused the accident is the one responsible for damages to those that were injured.
If you want to recover damages following a car accident then you have to:
- Prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care
- Show that the defendant breached that duty of care through negligence
- Enlighten on how it was that negligence that was ultimately responsible for the harm you suffered
A duty of care refers to the driver’s duty to pilot their vehicle in a safe and resonant manner. Basically, they owe it to you and others on the road to be aware of what’s going on and to follow the rules of the road.
Ride-sharing accidents aren’t any different. The individual whose negligence led to the accident is the responsible party. This may be the rideshare driver, but it could also be another party. It may take time to determine who is ultimately the responsible party.
The main thing that will change with a ridesharing accident is the liability for the accident. More on this in a moment.
What Happens If I Was Injured As a Passenger in a Ride-Sharing Vehicle?
If you are a passenger in a ride-sharing vehicle that gets into an accident then you should be covered by the company’s commercial liability coverage. California law considers companies like Uber and Lyft as transportation network companies and companies of this nature are required to have insurance that covers those using the service.
You may have a claim against the rideshare driver. After all, if they were the one who acted in a negligent manner then they are the one responsible for your injuries. In cases where the driver’s own insurance coverage is not enough to cover the damages, they’ll have to pay then the rideshare company’s commercial policy may be used to cover the additional damages.
If the driver of the rideshare vehicle was not at fault then you’ll need to file a claim against the at-fault driver of the other vehicle. If their insurance is able to cover the damages then that’ll be that. But in cases where the at-fault driver does not have insurance or is uninsured then the rideshare company’s UM/UIM policy will typically cover the damages up to a limit of around $1 million per accident.
Is Uber or Lyft Liable for Damages?
All drivers in California are required to have a minimum level of liability insurance. In many cases, this will be enough to cover the damages they’ll have to pay. When it isn’t enough, it may be up to the rideshare company to provide the additional funds necessary to cover those damages. However, it isn’t always clear whether or not Uber or Lyft are liable or not.
The reason for this is that Uber and Lyft drivers have different levels of liability depending on what they were up to at the moment of the accident. For our purposes here, there are three particular situations that will determine whether or not Uber or Lyft are liable:
- The driver has a rideshare passenger or is on their way to pick up a passenger: An accident occurring under these conditions would have a minimum of $1 million in commercial liability and $1 million in uninsured /underinsured motorist insurance
- The driver is logged into the rideshare app and waiting for a passenger: An accident occurring under these conditions would have liability of up to $50,000 per individual, $100,000 per accident, and $30,000 for property damage
- The driver is not logged into the app and is not looking for or carrying a passenger: In this case, the driver might work for a ride-sharing company but would be considered as driving on their own time, and as such the ride-sharing company would not be liable for damages
In addition to these, the companies may be responsible under California’s Respondeat Superior laws. These laws make the employer generally liable for their employees’ negligence. However, most rideshare drivers are considered to be independent contractors and so they don’t trigger this particular law. This industry is still developing, however, so this could change in the near future.
The rideshare company may share some liability for other reasons, too. For example, they may act negligently in the screening process and allow through drivers that they shouldn’t. If this were the case with the driver that got you into an accident then the company may be directly liable for your injuries. This could be true for a failure to properly train and supervise their drivers, as well. This would require a negligent hiring lawsuit to be filed.
What Should I Do If I Was in a Rideshare Accident?
If you were in a rideshare accident in California then you may have a solid claim on your hands. The best thing to do is to work with an experienced attorney, like those that make up The Accident Network Law Group. An experienced attorney will be able to help investigate the situation to find who is responsible, work with you to build a solid case, and help walk you through every step of the legal process you’re about to face.
If you’ve been injured, it only makes sense that you get the damages you deserve and the best way to do that is to work with The Accident Network Law Group.