As ridesharing apps continue to be a popular option for people traveling from place to place in big cities, small towns, and communities all over the United States, the chances are high that car accidents will continue to occur that involve drivers working for transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft, and the passengers they serve. The more people on the roads taking advantage of these gig arrangements, the more likely these situations will involve an accident and personal injury. With this inevitability in mind, many people wonder what rights a ridesharing passenger would have if they became injured in such an accident.
Knowing that the big-name rideshare companies consider their drivers to operate as independent contractors, passengers may wonder what type of legal protection they will be afforded if their ridesharing trip ends in a car accident. Where should a rideshare passenger turn if they become injured in an accident in a rideshare vehicle? Who is to blame?
Commercial drivers typically use commercial vehicles to do their jobs. Bus drivers drive buses, taxicab drivers drive taxis, and commercial truck drivers drive commercial trucks. When it comes to drivers who do work for rideshare companies, the drivers use their personal vehicles to do their jobs transporting rideshare customers. This complicates the insurance arrangement that covers people who may become involved in accidents with these drivers.
As part of the company-driver arrangement, drivers must be covered by a personal auto insurance policy. The rideshare company then offers a supplemental policy to provide protection for anyone who may become injured in an accident caused by its independent driver. This supplemental policy provides coverage for any valid claim for car accidents that happen under certain conditions. The company policy may also cover claims that exceed the amount covered by the driver’s personal insurance.
This arrangement allows the driver’s personal insurance to remain affordable for them, while the rideshare company’s insurance company assumes the risk for higher claims.
The breakdown for when and how the rideshare driver’s personal insurance applies has to do with the actions for which they are engaged. For example, the driver’s personal insurance is in effect whenever the rideshare app is turned off and the driver is not accepting customers. If an accident were to occur under these conditions, any resulting insurance claim would be handled the same as any other personal car accident, without any involvement from the rideshare company.
In other situations, the rideshare company offers two types of protection:
When the rideshare app is on and the driver is awaiting a ride request, the company offers liability coverage. This coverage through Uber and Lyft provides the following:
When the driver has accepted a passenger, the coverage is different. If the driver is en route to pick up the passenger or is engaged in transporting the passenger, the coverage provided by the rideshare company is as follows:
There are many parties that could possibly be found liable in a car accident involving a ridesharing service. The ridesharing driver may have caused the accident, but accidents that hurt rideshare passengers and drivers could also be the fault of another driver that crashes into the ridesharing car.
Additionally, there could be instances in which the accident is caused not by driver behavior, but by something entirely out of the driver’s control, such as a malfunctioning part on their vehicle or a road condition that causes problems they are unable to avoid. In these cases, there may be a manufacturer or property owner to blame.
Most accidents, however, are caused by driver error. In these cases, the insurance policy held by the driver who is at fault should cover the injuries suffered in the crash.
There are many types of damages accident victims can pursue. Some of the most common include these damages:
If the driver of another vehicle is at fault in the accident, any injuries should be covered under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. However, if that driver does not have adequate insurance, the ridesharing company must provide coverage for the claim under its UM/UIM coverage. Companies such as Uber and Lyft are required to retain this coverage to supplement the policies held by their drivers.
If the claimant takes too long to file their claim for damages, they may be unable to pursue any damages. A statute of limitations may be in place to provide a deadline for filing an accident claim.
Depending in which state’s laws are involved, there is likely to be a statute of limitations involved that requires that anyone injured in an accident must report their claim of injury within a specific period after the accident. In Delaware, the statute is two years from the time of the accident. Once the specified time runs out, it becomes much more difficult if not impossible for the injured person to receive any compensation related to the accident claim.
Injuries stemming from a car accident are not always evident right away. When the injury is obscured by other issues or delayed in its presentation, the injury may not become apparent for some time. When the injured person does begin to feel symptoms, they may not immediately make the connection back to the accident.
In these cases, the statute of limitations countdown does not start from the time of the accident, but there is still a clock that limits how long victims have to report the claim. This so-called discovery rule allows the countdown to begin at the point at which the injured person became aware or should have become aware of the accident-related injury.
Certain situations may be eligible for extensions of filing deadlines because of the nature of the injury and the timing of its discovery. Such delayed onset injuries include the following:
As with any car accident, especially one that involves injuries, 911 should be called. In fact, when it comes to car accidents in Delaware, failure to report a car accident that causes injuries is considered a misdemeanor. Not reporting a fatal accident is a felony.
Anyone who is injured should seek medical attention. Any medical evaluations or treatment should be documented.
At the scene, individuals who are involved in an accident should record all available information about the accident, making notes, taking pictures, and getting statements from witnesses, if possible. They should collect contact information and insurance information from all drivers involved.
Rideshare passengers should report the incident to the rideshare company. There are procedures and resources dedicated to this process. It is also a good idea to talk to a lawyer familiar with rideshare accident cases, as having the support of a knowledgeable legal professional can be invaluable in pursuing a ridesharing accident claim.
If you were hurt in a car accident while using a rideshare service, you should be able to collect compensation for any serious injuries you suffered as a result. You may be eligible to collect damages to cover medical bills or lost wages related to your accident and recovery. The Delaware car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you build a case that supports your rights and holds the at-fault party accountable for your injuries. Call us at (302) 427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. We are located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we proudly assist clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.