What are rideshare injury claims?

Getting a ride from an Uber or Lyft driver is convenient and saves passengers the hassle of finding their way around an unfamiliar location. Unfortunately, these rideshares can be as risky as when people drive themselves, and occasionally passengers do not arrive at their destinations unscathed. If an Uber or Lyft ride ends in an accident that causes damages, the passenger may want to know about insurance compensation for medical bills and other costs associated with the incident. When insurance settlements are insufficient, the injured party may need to file a lawsuit.

A rideshare injury claim is a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff when they are involved in an accident while being transported by an Uber or Lyft driver. These cases can be more complicated than typical car insurance claims. Whether a rideshare driver is at fault or another driver causes the accident is fundamental in determining who is responsible for damages. Consulting an attorney who understands rideshare personal injury claims is the best way to learn how these cases work and who can file a claim.

Understanding Uber and Lyft lawsuits

Being involved in a car accident is never pleasant, and adding a third party, such as Uber or Lyft, complicates a rideshare accident claim. The driver's status in the rideshare app determines liability. This differs from a typical accident where one party is at fault and they pay for damages through their insurance policy or out of pocket. Rideshare companies determine liability based on whether a driver was:

Transporting passengers

Uber or Lyft drivers who are in the app and actively transporting passengers when an accident occurs have insurance coverage under the rideshare company's policy. If the driver causes the accident, the rideshare company may compensate a passenger for injuries. The injured party, however, must provide proof that the rideshare driver caused the accident. If the other driver was at fault, the passenger and driver can pursue a claim against that person's insurance.

Uber and Lyft carry $1 million limited liability policies that pay for injuries and property damage. This coverage usually takes effect following other insurance payouts if there is not enough coverage. Drivers may receive compensation for the cash value of their vehicles after paying a $2,500 deductible if the vehicle is written off.

Waiting for passengers

Rideshare drivers who are in the app and waiting for passenger pickup notifications may be covered by Uber or Lyft insurance if they are involved in an accident, but it is more likely they will need to use their own insurance. This is especially true if they cause the accident. Rideshare companies carry contingency insurance that may provide some compensation if a driver's insurance does not cover damages. The Lyft compensation limits for rideshare contingency insurance are:

  • Bodily injury: $50,000 per person.
  • Bodily injury: $100,000 per accident.
  • Property damage: $25,000 per accident.

Not taking passengers

If a rideshare driver is not using the app or transporting or picking up passengers, they will have to use their own car insurance coverage if they are involved in an accident. A driver with a passenger who was not logged into the app will not be covered by Uber or Lyft insurance. The passenger will have to rely on the driver's insurance, their own coverage, or the coverage of the third party if they caused the accident. Compensation in this case is determined by the insurance coverage of the parties involved, not the rideshare company.

The impact of rideshare injuries

Injuries that occur during a rideshare trip can impact Uber and Lyft drivers and passengers as well as those in local communities where an accident occurs. Whether a person is hospitalized, goes through therapy, or has to deal with trauma for years to come, the impacts of a ridesharing accident can be long-lasting. This is in part due to the complicated nature of filing a claim when Uber or Lyft are involved.

Dealing with another party to get compensation for an accident when a claimant requires immediate attention can be stressful. An injured party may have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses up front or take on debt payments they cannot afford while they wait for a settlement. Rideshare companies consider drivers to be independent contractors, so they do not receive benefits such as workers' compensation or medical insurance. This means drivers must rely on their own insurance when they are driving while not using the app and will have to make a claim through the rideshare company's insurance when they are.

Some communities believe that ridesharing apps increase the traffic in their areas, making accidents more likely. A Columbia University study claims ridesharing increases injury-related crashes for motorists and pedestrians, especially in congested areas. Injuries are common in high-traffic pick-up and drop-off zones.

Adverse events associated with ridesharing

Many adverse events are associated with ridesharing accidents. Car accidents can cause many health and physical issues for those involved. When a person is a passenger in another's vehicle, they put their trust in the driver to get them where they need to be safely, but this does not always happen when accepting a ride from an Uber or Lyft driver. Some of the negative effects people experience when in a rideshare accident include:

  • Whiplash: This is the most common injury for those involved in a car accident, and symptoms of whiplash are neck and lower back pain and stiffness.
  • Traumatic brain injury: This happens when a person's head strikes an object hard, such as a window or seat. They may experience mood changes, dizziness, or seizures.
  • Broken bones: Broken arms, legs, or ribs can happen during a car accident, as limbs may strike objects or get stuck when the car hits something at speed.
  • Psychological trauma: While physical injuries are easily identifiable, a person may also experience psychological trauma following a rideshare accident, resulting in symptoms such as nightmares, anxiety, and emotional shifts.

In addition to car accidents, some Uber and Lyft passengers and drivers have been sexually assaulted. A sexual assault case may be more challenging to bring to Court, as it can be difficult to prove. These cases do not fall under the same insurance claim as an accident involving driver negligence.

Following a rideshare injury: steps to take

Drivers and passengers should consider these steps after being involved in a rideshare accident where an injury occurred:

Seek medical attention

The most important thing to do following an accident where someone is injured is to get medical attention for the injured party. Depending on the severity of the accident, those involved may need to be taken to a hospital by ambulance or treated on-site by trained professionals. Once the injured parties have been cared for, rideshare drivers and passengers can assess the situation.

Gather information

The parties involved should make notes about how the accident occurred, who was involved, the route taken, the extent of the damage, and other relevant information that can help the case. If possible, the driver and passenger should photograph the accident scene. The parties involved will need to exchange insurance information. Rideshare drivers may have to use their own insurance coverage, so getting this information is key to making a claim.

File a report

Filing a police report of the incident will ensure law enforcement and insurance providers have a record of the accident and its details. Claimants cannot finalize their claim if they do not provide an official police report. The rideshare company's insurance provider will also need a police report of the incident before they investigate the accident and a plaintiff's claim.

Talk to an attorney

Using the information gathered, plaintiffs can discuss their case with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help determine liability in a rideshare accident resulting in an injury and pursue a plaintiff's claim. This can help claimants maximize their settlements and protect their rights.

Make a claim

Once a police report is filed, it is time to make a claim. Depending on the status of the driver during the accident, a plaintiff will make a claim with their own insurance, the rideshare driver's insurance if they were at fault, the other driver's insurance if they were at fault, or Uber or Lyft if the driver was in transit with a passenger when the accident occurred.

Settle or go to Court

After the insurance company offers a settlement, claimants can decide whether to go to Court or take the amount offered. If the settlement is not enough to pay the expenses, a person may decide to go to Court to try for a higher amount. It is essential to consult an attorney before deciding, as they can provide expertise.

Decisions regarding liability

Liability for a rideshare accident usually falls on the driver. This means that an Uber or Lyft driver's insurance will be the first to be held liable for an accident they cause. Uber and Lyft, however, have insurance coverage that exceeds the minimum liability coverage needed in every state, so this can apply if a driver doesn't have enough coverage to pay for damages. A rideshare company will assume responsibility if the driver was active in the rideshare app at the time of the incident and they were transporting or picking up a passenger.