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Can I Sue a Rideshare Company (Uber or Lyft) after an Accident?

You use the App on your smart phone to call for an Uber or Lyft ride. You want to make life a little easier and stress-free during a night out with friends but it doesn’t turn out that way. 

Your driver gets into an accident and there are injuries. What are your options to receive compensation?

First, you should understand that the driver and ride share services do share the smartphone applications to allow drivers to locate passengers and to pay the driver without an exchange of cash money.

But these ride share services are not the employers. The drivers are freelance independent contractors and as such, until recently, the rideshare programs required the driver’s insurance to cover any accidents.

It took a precedent-setting case on the streets of San Francisco in 2014 to remind Uber and Lyft they too are responsible for any negligence that results in injuries. Prior to the case of Sofia Liu, both Uber and Lyft said it was up to the driver alone to carry insurance to cover any injuries.

That changed after an Uber collision with the Liu family in a crosswalk. The mother and brother were badly injured while six-year-old Sofia Liu was killed. Uber denied liability for the crash after the family filed the first ever wrongful death lawsuit against Uber.

The driver had been logged into Uber and was between rides at the time of the crash. He was actually looking down at his smartphone monitoring his calls, according to an eyewitness report by the mother. Uber argued he wasn’t carrying a passenger, and therefore, he had no reason to be logging into the app and the company was not responsible.

Lawyers for the family argued that the driver shares his profits with Uber and the company must also share in the responsibility. One year later the parties settled.

While the settlement does not bring back little Sofia, it did force Uber to change its policies.

Before a driver picks up a rider he is in Period One. If he is in an accident during that time, coverage limits vary by state, but the driver is covered by Uber for a minimum of $50k (bodily injury for one person)/$100k (bodily injury total) /$25k (property damage) plus any state coverage required.

The driver and TNC Insurance (Transportation Network Company) provides the coverage.

Before he is logged into Uber or Lyft, it is up to the driver’s own auto insurance to cover him.

In California, the legislature adopted a requirement that Uber and Lyft must have $1 million in liability insurance for its drivers covering injury, death and property damage, even during Period One and even when there is no passenger in the car but when the driver is logged into the app.

After the driver has accepted a rider (Period 2 and 3) coverage includes third party liability of at least $1 million, uninsured or underinsured motorist of at least $250,000 and property damage of $25,000.

More than 25 states have adopted the new coverage. Any additional coverage varies by state.  

Connecticut requires $1 million in coverage but only if a passenger is in the car.

If you are involved in an accident in an Uber/Lyft, what should you do?

Please be mindful of taking pictures of the scene and the cab of the vehicle immediately after any crash, call 911, capture an image of the driver’s profile in the cab and take any pictures that identify the driver.

Our lawyers will make sure that your Uber/Lyft driver had a clean driving record and has passed a background check. Is the driver registered with the state Commissioner of Transportation? Has your driver had any moving violations in the last three years? If so, Uber should not have hired him.  Was your driver speeding or violating the rules of the road?  Is the vehicle in good working order? Do all lights work? Was your driver under the influence? 

The Upton Law firm will need to send a preservation letter to Uber/ Lyft to make sure they do not destroy any data that was generated by your ride. A failure to do so by the rideshare program could generate another lawsuit.

If a third party was involved, their insurance should play an important role in compensation. 

If you or someone you know has been in an accident involving a rideshare company, call us at (860) 900-0900 and speak with one of our experienced attorneys today.