The convenience offered by ride-share apps has made services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar standard urban transportation options in Indianapolis and across the country. But as ride-sharing has risen in popularity, so inevitably have car accidents involving Uber, Lyft and Sidecar drivers, passengers and others.
The fact that ride-share drivers get into accidents is no surprise. Still, drivers and passengers may be surprised by the legal tangle regarding who is liable after a ride-share car accident causing injury.
The car accident attorneys of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC have been helping accident victims sort through liability issues regarding Uber ride-share injury claims and what happens after an Uber car accident in Indiana. We’ve found plenty of pointed fingers and the need for a personal injury attorney’s strong advocacy to help accident victims deal with ride-sharing companies and their insurers.
Ride-Share Services Seen as Causing More Car Accidents
Most people understand how ride-share transportation services work. Those in need of a ride can use a smartphone app to summon a ride through Uber or Lyft. Drivers are contractors who use their personal cars to transport passengers.
When a traffic accident occurs involving a ride-sharing driver and someone gets hurt, the question of liability must be addressed. Which party is responsible for the injuries? A study published by researchers at the University of Chicago and Rice University in October 2018 says ride-sharing was associated with a 2 to 4 percent increase in the number of drivers, passengers and pedestrians killed in car accidents between 2011 and 2016.
Traffic fatalities as counted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had been in decline for a decade. But “This decline halted and then reversed shortly after the introduction of ridesharing into U.S. cities,” the study says.
“We can assume that the pattern for fatal accidents is also repeated for non-fatal accidents, leading to costs in material and healthcare which may dwarf the costs in human lives,” the study’s researchers wrote.
For the purposes of this blog post, we aren’t even addressing claims of violence against passengers by Uber and Lyft drivers or assaults by passengers against ride-share drivers.
Who is Liable for Car Accident Injuries Caused by Uber Drivers?
If you are using a ride-share service and the driver gets into a car accident that leaves you injured, where do you turn for assistance with accident costs that were not your fault? Usually after a car accident, you would seek an insurance settlement from the insurer of the at-fault driver.
If the driver of your Uber car was at fault, you could file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. If he or she acted negligently — ran a red light, let’s say — then you would have a right to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses.
If you did obtain a settlement under the drivers’ insurance, it would be limited to the extent of that contract worker’s liability coverage, which you could expect to be Indiana’s minimum of $25,000/$50,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.
However, most auto liability insurance policies do not provide coverage if a driver is using his or her vehicle as a ride-share vehicle.
An injured ride-sharing passenger or another motorist injured by a ride-sharing driver would need to file a claim against the ride-sharing company’s insurance based on its legal responsibility for its drivers’ actions. Uber states that it insures its drivers while the app is on — if a passenger is in the car, if the driver is on the way to pick up a passenger, and if the driver has the app on and is awaiting a ride request. Lyft and others provide similar insurance coverage.
Uber states that it provides third-party liability coverage worth at least $1 million per accident as a driver drives to pick up a passenger after accepting a request and during Uber trips.
This coverage would be applied to a passenger injured in an Uber accident, as well as to a bicyclist, pedestrian or another motorist hit by an Uber driver. The injured person could file a claim with the driver’s insurer along with a claim against insurance coverage provided by Uber, if the driver was working for Uber at the time of the accident.
If the Uber driver was not carrying a passenger or on their way to pick someone up, Uber’s coverage drops to $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.
It is a mistake to assume that Uber’s insurance company will voluntarily shell out $1M or even $50,000 to satisfy your claim. Uber’s insurer, like any other, wants to pay as little as a possible to settle claims. It is not uncommon for Uber’s carrier to deny accident claims or to offer settlements that are much less than a full settlement. An experienced personal injury attorney can help level playing the playing field when dealing with insurance companies.
Does My Insurance Cover Me While Driving in a Ride-Share Accident?
A driver working as a contractor for a ride-share service may run into problems when filing for insurance after a car accident. If you were driving for Uber, Lyft, or a similar transport service at the time of the accident, your insurer could say you were working as a commercial driver, which requires coverage that you do not have.
If you now drive for a ride-share company or are considering such work, we suggest you contact your car insurance company and determine whether or how you may be covered in case of a traffic accident.
An Uber driver hit by another driver while on the way to pick up a rider or during an Uber trip would seek compensation through the at-fault drivers’ insurance. In addition, Uber maintains uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage of at least $1 million, which you could seek if the at-fault driver has no coverage or not enough insurance to cover your losses.
If you were not on the clock driving for Uber at the time of the accident, Uber would likely claim it had no obligation to cover your accident. Uber’s claim that it is an app and not a transportation service came after an Uber driver hit and killed a little girl, which Uber asserted was not during an Uber ride and therefore not their responsibility.
Contact Our Indianapolis Car Accident Attorneys
Accidents involving ride-sharing companies such as Uber, Lyft or Sidecar are more complicated to resolve. A ride-share company may have liability for a car accident you were injured in. But if the accident was serious and the financial stakes high, you will need the help of an experienced Indianapolis personal injury lawyer to seek a full settlement.
A Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC car accident attorney will protect your rights and stand up to a ride-share firm’s insurance company if you have been injured by another’s negligence. It is important to move quickly after a car accident to gather evidence. Contact us as soon as possible after an accident in Indianapolis or anywhere in Indiana for a free review of your accident, injuries and right to compensation.