I Got Hit by a Rideshare Driver. What now?

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Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft make the news regularly, and it's not always positive. This week, drivers protested in New York City over working conditions. In California, they're fighting a recently passed bill (AB-5) that expands employee rights to drivers. A few months ago, University of Chicago released a study that shows an increase in fatal car collisions in cities Uber and Lyft serve.

When you're on the road as a driver, cyclist or pedestrian, you have to pay attention for vehicles that suddenly slow to drop off passengers, as well as passengers that fling open their doors at the wrong time.

What happens if you rear-end a stopped rideshare vehicle? Or if you get "doored" by a passenger when riding your bike?

A collision that involves a rideshare is more complicated than your average collision. Here's why:

  • Most personal auto insurance policies won't cover accidents that happen during a rideshare.
  • Some auto insurers, including Allstate, State Farm, GEICO, and Farmers, offer rideshare insurance. Rideshare insurance is a hybrid policy that covers the driver for both personal use and for the times when drivers are signed into the ridesharing app but not covered by Lyft or Uber's insurance. When the app is off, the personal policy covers the driver.
  • From the time a driver accepts a ride request until the time the ride ends in the app, Uber or Lyft's policy is in full force. Both companies have primary liability insurance with a $1 million per accident limit.
  • If the driver has rideshare or commercial insurance, Uber and Lyft's insurance becomes the excess coverage in the event of an accident. That means it kicks in only after the primary insurance is exhausted.
  • If the driver does not have rideshare or commercial insurance, Uber or Lyft's insurance becomes the primary insurance.
  • When the driver app is on and available to accept a ride request, a contingent liability policy is in effect. The policy has a $50,000 maximum limit per person, $100,000 maximum limit per accident, and a $25,000 maximum limit for property damage.

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  • If you get injured because of the negligence of a rideshare passenger (such as getting doored), the responsibility could lie with either the passenger or the driver, depending on the situation. If fault lies with the passenger, Uber/Lyft provides primary coverage and the passenger's policy provides excess coverage.
  • Uber's insurance carrier has a history of denying liability.
  • Because (for now) rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors and not employees, rideshare companies can deny liability when someone gets injured in a rideshare vehicle. Typically employers are vicariously liable for employees' actions.
  • Regardless of the situation, be sure to take precautions after an accident. Take photos if you can, get contact information for the driver and passenger(s), and get the license plate number and insurance information.

If you've been injured in an accident that involves a rideshare, contact our office right away for a free consultation. We'll help you sort through the complicated insurance issues and fight for fair compensation for your injuries.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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Oakland, CA 94612

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