Uber and Lyft have transformed how people get from point A to point B. Ridesharing services can be convenient, economical, and even good for the environment (when pooling with other riders). But while the number of people using rideshare services like Uber and Lyft has skyrocketed in recent years, the number of accidents leading to injuries has also increased substantially.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident as an Uber or Lyft passenger, you may be wondering whether or not you’re able to recover financial compensation for your injuries and various other types of damages. In the sections below, we’ll review your legal rights as an Uber of Lyft passenger, discuss what types of damages may be recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit, and look at how long you have to file such a claim.
Am I Covered as a Passenger for an Uber or Lyft Car Accident Injury?
As an Uber or Lyft passenger, you’re essentially always covered in the event of an accident leading to an injury like whiplash, broken or fractured bones, or TBI (traumatic brain injury). However, various scenarios can determine which insurance will apply or help cover such an injury and any ensuing damages.
Let’s look at how different types of insurance policies are applied in Uber or Lyft passenger injuries:
·The Driver’s Commercial or Personal Insurance Policy: If you’re injured in an Uber or Lyft accident as a passenger, the driver’s car insurance coverage may apply in instances where said driver has a commercial insurance policy or a personal car insurance policy which includes a “special provision” providing coverage while acting as a rideshare driver. However, many rideshare drivers may not have a commercial or personal car insurance policy that covers you in the event of an injury. In fact, some personal car insurance policies actually include a “business use exception” stipulating that any damages and injuries which occur while the insured is acting as a for-profit driver are not covered. But, as it turns out, even if your Uber or Lyft driver does not have a commercial or personal insurance policy that covers your injury, you still have options under the law.
·The Rideshare Company’s Insurance Policy: Both Uber and Lyft carry third party liability insurance coverage which pays $1 million or more for personal injuries and property damage per accident. Uber and Lyft company policies will only kick in after the rideshare driver’s own insurance has been exhausted, however. This, of course, assumes that your Uber or Lyft driver carries an applicable policy (both companies require their drivers to have up-to-date auto insurance coverage). As a rideshare passenger patronizing Uber or Lyft, you’re covered under the company’s liability policy in accidents where the rideshare driver is at fault.
·Third Party Car Insurance Policy:If your Uber or Lyft driver wasn’t responsible (at fault) for the accident that caused your injury, you still have the option to seek financial compensation from the at-fault driver through a third party insurance policy claim. This is typically done through an experienced personal injury lawyer like Tigran Martinian, or one of the other team members at Martinian & Associates.
·Company Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage:
In Uber or Lyft accidents where an at-fault driver (not the rideshare driver) either does not have insurance or the policy he or she carries does not provide adequate coverage for your injuries, the company’s uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage will “kick in” and provide up to $1 million per accident. However, it’s important to note that such UM/UIM coverage only applies in instances where the driver doesn’t have car insurance, doesn’t have enough insurance, or can’t be identified (hit-and-runs, for example).
When insurance policies such as those listed above are unable to provide full compensation for your injuries – often in cases where severe or catastrophic injuries occur – you still have the option to file a civil claim seeking financial compensation against Uber or Lyft directly.
How is Liability Determined in a California Uber or Lyft Accident?
Car accident injury claims are based on negligence, meaning someone’s fault or carelessness must have caused your incident. Who is liable for your Uber of Lyft injury claim will depend on whether:
- The Uber or Lyft driver was transporting you as a passenger (or traveling to pick up an accepted ride)
- The Uber or Lyft driver was logged-on to the respective company app and was waiting for a passenger
- The Uber or Lyft driver was not logged-on to the respective company app and was driving on his or her own time
If your rideshare driver was logged into the app and was transporting you as a passenger, Uber or Lyft’s company insurance policy will likely cover:
- Any injury resulting from an accident
- Any fatality resulting from an accident (via a wrongful death claim)
By contrast, if the Uber or Lyft driver was not actually logged-on and using his or her respective Uber or Lyft app (or perhaps even off duty during the accident and not technically driving a passenger/customer), damages for injuries or fatalities would likely be covered by the driver’s personal insurance policy.
The following coverage policies typically apply according to your rideshare driver’s status:
- Driver has a rideshare passenger in the vehicle or is picking up a passenger:
- Minimum $1 million in commercial liability and $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
- Driver is logged-on to the company app and is waiting for a passenger:
- Up to $50,000 per individual/$100,000 per accident/$30,000 for property damage
- Driver is not logged-on to the company app and is not looking for or transporting a passenger:
- *Minimum coverage is up to $15,000 for death or injury to an individual/$30,000 for death or injury to more than one person/$5,000 for property damage (*these are the same minimum requirements for other personal auto insurance policies in California)
Important Tips When Traveling as a Passenger in an Uber or Lyft
- Always wear your seatbelt: Not wearing a seatbelt can open an injured victim up to potential issues when filing a civil claim and seeking to recover financial damages. The defendant (whether a rideshare driver, a third party at-fault driver, or the company itself) will likely attempt to deflect liability by placing blame on a passenger who was not wearing his or her seatbelt. Hence, it’s strongly recommended that you always buckle up when using Uber or Lyft.
- Be respectful of your driver: Always keep in mind that your rideshare driver is completing a job, and doing so impacts your safety and well-being. Accordingly, it’s advisable to not distract your driver or act in a manner that may cause him or her to have to remove focus from the road.
- Ride in the backseat: Riding in the backseat of your Uber or Lyft vehicle may be prudent, particularly if an accident occurs. Always sitting in the backseat can help minimize your potential for sustaining an injury in the event of a crash.
- Have the driver confirm your name: While rare, some individuals do impersonate Uber or Lyft drivers and pick up unsuspecting passengers. As a result, it’s important to ensure that your driver always verifies your name before proceeding with a ride.
Are Damages Recoverable After an Uber or Lyft Passenger Injury?
The types of damages that may be recovered as a passenger after an Uber or Lyft car accident fall under three categories:
The specific damages that you may recover after an Uber or Lyft accident injury will vary depending on the unique circumstances of the incident. The severity of your injuries, the extent of liability, the driver’s history, and more are just a few factors that can determine what types of damages you may be able to secure (as well as the amount of total financial compensation).
The most common examples of Uber and Lyft accident injury damages are broken down below according to type.
·California Uber/Lyft Accident Economic Damages:
- Medical expenses
- Emergency department treatment
- Physical Therapy
- Lost Wages
- Lost Earning Capacity
·California Uber/Lyft Accident Non-Economic Damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Reduced quality of life
- Scarring or other serious injury
- Compensation for loss of a limb or disfigurement
Punitive damages for Uber and Lyft accidents are in a separate class, and are typically only recoverable in cases where an at-fault party demonstrates wanton recklessness or disregard for human life.
If the at-fault Uber or Lyft driver who caused your accident had a history of driving recklessly or was found to be exercising dangerous behavior while behind the wheel, the experienced car accident lawyers from Martinian & Associates would likely pursue punitive damages on your behalf.
Furthermore, punitive damages may be applied to an Uber or Lyft accident claim if a driver was found to be involved in multiple serious accidents (but the rideshare company failed to take any action and instead allowed him or her to continue transporting passengers).
Martinian & Associates pursues punitive damages in all applicable Uber and Lyft rideshare accident cases. Moreover, it’s important for injured victims to remember that punitive damages are not capped in the state of California.
Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer After an Uber/Lyft Car Accident?
Hiring an experienced and trusted attorney from Martinian & Associates can help ensure you recover the maximum financial compensation you need to make a complete recovery after an Uber or Lyft accident injury.
In fact, studies confirm that hiring a private personal injury layer can have multiple advantages for car accident victims. For example, a recent study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) indicated the following:
- Settlements for injured claimants were 40% higher when they had secured private legal representation.
- The average insurance payout was 3.5 times higher for injured victims who hired private attorneys (when compared to those representing themselves).
- 85% of all money paid by insurance companies for bodily injuries is received by victims who have secured representation from a private personal injury attorney.
How Long Do I Have to File an Uber/Lyft Passenger Injury Claim?
The California statute of limitations for most personal injury civil claims is two years from the date of an incident. In other words, you most likely have two years from the date that your Uber or Lyft accident injury occurred to file a claim seeking financial compensation.
However, the experienced lawyers at Martinian & Associates strongly encourage any injured Uber or Lyft accident victim to file a claim as soon as possible to increase the chances of obtaining justice in the form of a maximum financial damages award.
Waiting to file a claim may affect your chance of obtaining financial compensation for your injuries. Additionally, a delayed claim can often result in a reduced damages award.
Contact the Best Uber/Lyft Accident Injury Lawyers Today
If you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident due to another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to a cash settlement to help cover various types of damages, including hospital or medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
But recovering the maximum financial compensation available for your Uber or Lyft accident injury is not automatically guaranteed. In most cases, a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer is necessary to help prove difficult to quantify damages such as emotional trauma or pain and suffering.
That’s where the Martinian & Associates team can help. We have over 20 years of experience representing injured car accident victims like you and securing maximum financial damages awards. To date, attorney Tigran Martinian and his associates have secured more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for injured clients.
If you’ve suffered an injury as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft, don’t settle for anything less than the Martinian & Associates Advantage. We will fight to recover you the largest possible cash settlement based on the circumstances of your unique claim.
Contact one of our Uber or Lyft accident attorneys today at 323-850-1900 for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation. Martinian & Associates is a leading California personal injury firm, and we never charge a penny until we’ve successfully secured maximum financial compensation for your claim.