It seems that overnight, ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have spread across the state of Maryland and the entire country. In fact, Uber says it does 1 million rides per day and did over 140 million rides last year alone. It makes sense- they are convenient, cheap and allow users to request a ride with a simple tap of a button on their phones. But what happens if you’re a passenger in an Uber or Lyft ride and involved in an uber accident. Who’s liable?
Uber and Lyft drivers are “independent contractors”, meaning that they aren’t technically employees of the ride-sharing companies. While in normal scenarios, companies are not liable for the actions of contractors, in the case of Uber and Lyft have insurance policies to cover liability in the event of an accident.
Uber drivers who are on a trip with a passenger are covered by a $1 million liability coverage policy and a $1 million uninsured/under-insured coverage policy (in case of accidents with un- or under-insured drivers). When drivers aren’t traveling with a passenger, they are covered by their own personal insurance policy, which both Uber and Lyft require.
So what should you do if you’re involved in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft?
First, you want to file an accident report with law enforcement. Even if a police officer is not present at the scene, you want to call and request them to come to your location so that you can file a report.
Secondly, you want to take down the information from the parties involved, including their drivers license number, tag number and insurance information. If possible, take pictures of the damages and location of the accident. If there are witnesses, take their information as well.
If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. It’s important to call 911 so that you’re transported to the hospital safely. You may have a head trauma which hasn’t registered on your nervous system yet. Not seeking immediate aid can compromise your claim, if you do file one.
Make sure not to make ANY statements to an insurance representative about the details of the accident. This applies especially where you are hospitalized; in such cases it is usual procedure for insurance companies to send out a representative. They will assess the claim and probably try to seek an early settlement agreement, while at the same time also be trying to find grounds to deny the claim. The problem is that you need to be aware of your rights. You have a right to proper compensation under the law, for interim compensation to be paid pending your full assessment and treatment for injuries. You have a right to a proper assessment of compensation to take into account your long term needs and the full scope of the suffering and losses you have incurred. You can also deny making any statement to the insurance company until you feel you are in a fit state of mind to do so, and you also have a right to be represented by your attorney.
Finally, consult and retain an experienced personal injury attorney. Only an attorney can protect your right to full and proper compensation, and take the insurance company to court and fight for you. An attorney will stop you from becoming a victim a second time around.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We’re here to help.