When you request a rideshare vehicle from your cellphone, the last thing that you’re likely thinking about is who will be liable if you are injured in a car accident. Unfortunately, however, accidents do happen—and it’s important to be aware of your rights and the options for compensation available to you in the event of an accident.
At the Marc Brown Law Firm, we can help you to navigate your rights if you’re involved in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft. Learn more about liability, insurance coverage, and when you might consider filing a lawsuit in these cases by contacting us today for a free consultation.
Determining Fault for a Rideshare Accident
An important consideration after an Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare accident is determining who’s at fault for the crash. Because South Carolina is a tort liability state, whoever caused the accident will be responsible for paying for it. Here’s what you need to know:
- Passengers. For passengers of rideshare vehicles or non-rideshare vehicles involved in Uber or Lyft crashes, filing a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance is the best course of action. If the non-rideshare driver was to blame for the accident but is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to pay for damages, filing a claim against the rideshare vehicle’s uninsured/underinsured insurance is an option.
- Rideshare drivers. A rideshare driver who causes an accident will not be personally liable for the crash. The insurance coverage provided through the rideshare company (see notes below) should pay for damages suffered by the not-at-fault party. If a rideshare driver is injured in an accident and is not at fault for the collision, they can file a claim against the at-fault driver.
- Drivers of non-rideshare vehicles. Finally, drivers of non-rideshare vehicles who are involved in a crash will be held liable for damages suffered to others if they are to blame for the accident. Their liability coverage will apply in these cases. If they are not to blame for the crash, then they can file a claim against the rideshare insurance.
Determining fault and taking appropriate action to seek compensation in rideshare accident cases can be complex. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can help you to better understand your rights and improve your chances of receiving the maximum compensation available.
Rideshare Coverage Requirements
Both Uber and Lyft maintain insurance policies that apply to their drivers, and the state of South Carolina also mandates that rideshare operators have coverage. Specifically, the state (as of 2015) requires that when a rideshare driver is logged onto the network but does not have a passenger in the vehicle, coverage requirements are:
- $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person
- $150,000 for death and bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
In the event that a rideshare driver has a passenger within their vehicle, the liability insurance coverage requirements increase. When a driver is on a prearranged ride, the liability coverage requirement increases to $1,000,000 for death, bodily injury, and property damage. In both situations (both with a passenger and without), uninsured motorist coverage is required as well.
These policies closely mirror those offered by rideshare companies nationally. The only difference is that both Uber and Lyft currently offer only $100,000 in liability coverage for death and bodily injury per accident when a passenger is not within the vehicle or the driver is not in route to pick up a passenger.
When Does Coverage Apply?
It’s not just the amount over coverage that’s important to know if you’re involved in a rideshare accident. You also need to know when each coverage type applies. Again, the policies maintained by Uber and Lyft are nearly identical. If you’ve been in a crash, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you understand the specific information relevant to your case:
- Rideshare app off/inactive. In the event that a rideshare driver is cruising around with the app off or disabled, the rideshare company’s insurance would not As such, if you are involved in an accident with a driver who works for a rideshare company but is not “on the job” at the time of the crash, you will need to pursue damages through their personal liability insurance.
- Rideshare app open with no rider match. If the rideshare app is open and the driver is waiting for a passenger request when the accident occurs, limited liability coverage applies. For both Uber and Lyft, 50/100/25 coverage would apply ($50,000 for bodily injury per person, $100,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability coverage).
- Rideshare driver matched with rider and en route for pickup. If a rideshare driver has been matched with a rider and is en route to pick them up when an accident occurs, then the full liability coverage through the rideshare company ($1 million) applies. Uninsured and underinsured coverage also applies.
- Rider is within the rideshare vehicle. If a rider is within the vehicle at the time of the accident, the same coverage that applies when a driver is en route for pickup also applies: $1 million in liability coverage.
Should I File a Lawsuit?
Typically, Uber and Lyft car accident claims will settle out of court without either party having to worry about filing a lawsuit. However, if you are unable to recover the compensation award that you believe you deserve and have exhausted your alternative dispute resolution options (such as mediation, negotiation, and perhaps even arbitration), then filing a lawsuit may be the best option. Before negotiating with the company, though, be sure to consult with an experienced rideshare accident attorney.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been involved in a rideshare accident, attorney Marc Brown can help you to understand your rights and options. Whether you are a rideshare passenger or driver, or were in a non-rideshare vehicle, we are here to support you. Contact us today to request a free consultation.