If you’re ever in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, you likely
won’t sue the ride-sharing company outright. Drivers are technically
independent contractors, not employees, meaning the company can deny liability
for crashes involving their drivers (and have done so in the past, most
notoriously when a driver hit and killed a six-year-old in San Francisco in 2014.
But there is still recourse. Your options in case of an accident, as with
all personal injury cases, are largely dependent on the laws in the state
in which the crash occurs. Typically, here’s what you can do.
If You’re a Passenger
• Call 911, and then take pictures of the wreck
• Write down names, email addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses
• Write down the name of the driver if it’s not already in your phone
• Take screen shots of your Uber ride and receipt on your phone
• Hire a lawyer if you’re injured or incurred any kind of medical bills
If the accident occurs during the course of your trip and your ride-sharing
driver is at fault, you are covered under a $1 million liability policy
that both Uber and Lyft have through James River Insurance. If you need
to file a lawsuit, you would sue the at-fault driver (not Uber or Lyft
directly) and serve copies of the lawsuit documents on that driver, as
well as on the insurance company. Chances are the driver will not be able
to pay your medical bills, which is why the companies offer these policies.
Your lawyer should immediately send preservation of evidence letters (also
called spoliation letters) to Uber/Lyft and the driver, to ensure they
preserve all the data related to your ride. Depending on state law, the
ride-sharing company could be sued if it fails to preserve that data.
If another driver is at fault (not your ride-sharing driver), then the
other driver’s personal insurance policy comes into play first.
Assuming they don’t have enough to cover potentially serious medical
bills, Uber and Lyft both have $1 million underinsured motorist policies
that could apply.
If You’re Not a Passenger
Things are a bit more complicated if you are not a passenger in the car,
or the driver is off-duty. If the Uber or Lyft driver is not on duty and
using the car for personal purposes, you can’t necessarily make
a claim under Uber’s $1 million policy, you’d make it on the
driver’s personal policy. This is also true if the driver is on
duty but does not have a passenger at the time of the accident. But if
they do have a passenger and injure a bystander, then Uber’s insurance
will cover the accident.
One wrinkle: Some states, like California and Washington, have ruled that
the ride-sharing companies’ policies apply even if the driver does
not have a passenger in the car. Essentially, their insurance covers drivers
as soon as they log into the app and are waiting for a fare, up until
they log off. But again, it depends on the state.
In order to maximize your recovery, an experienced personal injury attorney
will explore all available options for you. If you or a loved one has
suffered injuries in a crash that involved an Uber or Lyft driver, it
is very important to seek legal representation so you know your rights
under the full extent of Florida laws. The law office of Darrigo, Diaz
& Jimenez has a complete Auto Accident and Personal Injury team of
lawyers, investigators, and paralegals ready to defend your rights. You
can schedule a free appointment now to discuss your case and there are
no fees or costs unless we win a settlement for you.
For a complimentary consultation with one of our Personal Injury Attorneys
click here or call toll-free 813-877-5548.