As rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft increase in popularity, so do the number of rideshare car accidents. These accidents can often be confusing, and determining who’s at fault is not always clear. After a rideshare car accident, you may be able to recover compensation through your own insurance, the Uber/Lyft driver’s insurance, or Uber/Lyft insurance. Historically, there may be problems asserting claims against the insurance of a rideshare company because sometimes the vehicles used are not properly insured. Determining the best option for you to recover maximum compensation can be challenging, and it’s important to find a Prescott rideshare accident specialist lawyer who understands legal liabilities and avenues of monetary recovery after an Uber/Lyft accident.
In Arizona, Uber and Lyft drivers are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. Therefore, if a driver causes an accident, the company may not be liable for the driver’s actions because the driver is not technically an employee. However, this does not entirely protect Uber or Lyft from liability. Both companies carry insurance policies of $1 million to cover riders who are injured if they were being transported to their destination at the time of the collision. The caveat is that Uber/Lyft can only be held liable during the period of an active ride. If an off-duty driver causes the collision, the driver will likely only be individually liable for damages.
Insurance coverage can be a complicated subject when it comes to rideshare accidents. After the crash, multiple insurance companies may play a part: the rideshare company, driver, passenger, or third-party insurance. Determining whose insurance will be liable for paying your damages may take the help of an experienced rideshare accident lawyer.
A driver who causes an accident outside the period of an active ride (“within the course and scope of employment”) will need their own insurance to cover the victim’s damages. Uber/Lyft drivers are required to carry private insurance plans. The minimum required in Arizona is:
Other motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists involved in the car accident may also be liable for damages. Your own auto insurance may provide coverage if you have UM or UIM coverage.
As mentioned above, Uber and Lyft carry insurance policies with a $1 million maximum that provides coverage when rideshare drivers are logged into the app and become available for ride requests. Different coverage may apply depending on the phase or “period” of the ride. Proving the facts about whether the driver was “logged in” at the time of the crash often requires a lawyer and sometimes filing suit to subpoena the documents and proof that may not be volunteered if insurance coverage is being disputed.
Whether or not Uber or Lyft is liable for damages often depends on when the accident occurred. To help better explain insurance coverage, Uber has divided its drivers’ time into three different “periods.” These periods (see below) help determine whether Uber is covering damages.
The rideshare app is on, and the driver is logged in, waiting for a ride request. Uber will not take responsibility for accidents that occur on the driver’s own time. However, Uber cannot automatically be considered liable simply because the driver had the Uber application on at the time of the collision. Uber doesn’t consider drivers “on the clock” until a passenger has requested a ride. Therefore, if a driver is in an accident during period 1, Uber is not liable for the accident, and the accident will likely be handled like a traditional accident. However, it’s worth noting that in some instances, Uber may be liable during period 1 despite its denials. The best way to know whether you’d be able to hold Uber liable is to speak with an attorney.
Period 2 begins when the driver is en route to the passenger’s location. During this period, Uber may cover damages. However, it’s important to remember that Uber is not eager to pay for damages and will use simple and understandable deception or claimed lack of records to its advantage. After an accident, an Uber driver may cancel the ride they were about to complete, but this may cause issues. Uber can claim that the passenger could have canceled the ride, meaning that the Uber driver was actually in period 1 instead of 2, at the time of the accident. Take screenshots of the active ride showing the date and time for evidence during the claim process.
Period 3 is when the passenger is inside the vehicle and on their way to their destination. During period 3, Uber is likely to accept insurance coverage for damages since the driver is “on the clock.”
The aftermath of a car accident can be devastating. People in accidents may suffer life-changing injuries that leave them without a source of income and ever growing expenses. A prompt accident insurance claim (or personal injury lawsuit if necessary) can be the best way to recover monetary awards to compensate for your harms and losses. Some of the damages you may be able to recover include:
The amount you recover depends on many factors, including the severity and extent of your injuries. You may benefit from the skills of an attorney with experience asserting injury claims and negotiating settlements so they can ensure you receive the best possible outcome. The insurance industry knows which law firms are the most capable: a good lawyer will most often get you a larger recovery, and a specialist injury even more so.
Car accidents can often leave victims shocked and unsure of what to do next. Jensen Phelan Law Firm provides unmatched legal services and legal guidance. Our specialist lawyers understand how complicated the claim process can be and are ready to answer any questions you may have. Our goal is to make sure you are confident that there is someone in the room fighting for your best interests and doing everything in their power to ensure you recover maximum compensation. Pursuing compensation may be tricky, but you don’t have to do it alone. Schedule a consultation today by calling our office at (928) 778-2660 or filling out our contact form.