Ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft are revolutionizing the transportation industry, lowering wait times and decreasing costs for customers. At the same time, these new business models are bringing up interesting questions on the legal side. Since ride-share drivers are classified as independent contractors as opposed to employees, gaps in insurance coverage can create complex legal issues.
What happens if you’re in a car accident as a ride-share service customer and get hurt?
What happens if you’re driving your vehicle and a ride-share driver causes an accident?
Let’s take a look at Uber specifically and drill down on some possible scenarios.
According to Uber’s website, in the United States, the company’s ride-sharing insurance coverage provides $1 million of liability coverage per incident. Per Uber, this is the liability limit that they’ve held since launching their ride-sharing services in 2013. This policy will be the primary policy unless the vehicle is also covered under a commercial auto insurance policy. This means that commercially licensed drivers – those who provide services through UberBLACK, UberTAXI and UberSUV – are covered by their commercial insurance policies and not Uber’s policy.
Also included in Uber’s policy is $1 million of coverage for uninsured/under-insured motorist (UM) bodily coverage, which was added in late 2013. We’ve discussed what UM insurance coverage is before and why it is so important here. In short, UM coverage is available to pursue if the at-fault driver is not insured, flees the scene (hit and run), or their policy limits are too low to compensate you appropriately for your injuries.
To put things in perspective, let’s take a look at two different scenarios.
Scenario 1: You’re a passenger in an Uber vehicle and a collision happens. You’re hurt.
Per Uber’s statements, their insurance policy provides liability coverage of up to $1 million. This means that, if your Uber driver caused the accident, you’re covered. As of today, Uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors and not employees. Because of this, Uber maintains that the company is not responsible for damages beyond $1 million, even if the Uber driver was negligent (e.g., driving while intoxicated, distracted, etc.).
If a third-party caused the accident, your insurance claim will likely be with that person or business’ insurance company. If the at-fault third-party is uninsured or does not have sufficient coverage for the injuries that you have suffered, this is when you may be able to recover from Uber’s UM insurance.
Scenario 2: You’re driving your own vehicle and an Uber driver causes the collision. You’re hurt.
This scenario can become quite complex. The primary question is whether the Uber driver who is at-fault was on a trip.
If the Uber driver was on a trip, then the collision should be covered by Uber’s policy, offering up to $1 million in liability coverage. What exactly does it mean for the driver to be on a trip? Well, according to Uber, this begins at the time the ride-share driver accepts the trip and ends at the time that the customer makes it out of the car at his or her requested destination.
If the Uber driver was not on a trip, then Uber maintains that their insurance coverage is not applicable. This means that if the driver is on-duty, but not on a trip – e.g., in an “available” status, in-between fares, etc. – then Uber’s insurance coverage is not applicable.
Instead, the Uber driver’s personal insurance policy would apply. This means that you are subject to the policy limits of his or her personal insurance policy. However – and this is a huge however – in some states, personal insurance policies are specifically prohibited from paying out on any claims for collisions that occur when a ride-share driver is logged into a ride-hailing app. In this case, the driver’s personal policy may not cover the collision.
Recommendations if you’re in an accident involving a ride-share driver
Regardless of who is at fault, be sure that you obtain auto insurance information from all parties who were involved in the collision and follow our handy to-do list here. If you’re injured, seek medical attention immediately. Especially if you’ve been injured, it’s important to contact an auto accident attorney in your state to ensure that your legal rights are both preserved and protected. There are deadlines that you don’t want to miss, so be sure to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Hurt in an accident in New Mexico? Consult with an injury attorney in Albuquerque.
Whether you’re a passenger or another driver, a collision with a ride-share driver can lead to complex legal issues. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a ride-share service driver in New Mexico, our injury attorney in Albuquerque is here to navigate you through the chaos. We’re proud to provide legal representation that you can believe in. Speak with our trusted law team today by calling (505) 247-2774 or complete the contact form below.
Baskerville Law LLC | Injury Attorney in Albuquerque