Ridesharing Services and Liability in Vehicle Accidents

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Rideshare companies such as Lyft and Uber have ushered in an era of a higher level of convenience for cab-hailing travelers. Anyone in need of transport services can now summon door-to-door rides using their iPads, tablets, and even phones for less cost than the price associated with a traditional taxi. Besides, proponents have noted other benefits such as fewer drunk drivers on the road, less vehicle ownership, ad more carpooling.

However, Rice University’s Ph.D. candidate Livia Hanyi, Chicago Booth’s John Barrios, and Yael V. Hochberg of Rice University warn that ridesharing services are also associated with significant costs. These researchers link Lyft, Uber, and other ridesharing services to a rise in vehicle-related deaths.

These researchers created a model around the hypothesis that a combination of affordable, convenient rides for travelers and better income opportunities for car drivers would result in an increase in the number of vehicles on the road. The model assumes that the average quality of drivers varies as more people continue shift to ridesharing services and others become Lyft and Uber drivers. In the model, auto accidents are a function of car miles traveled and the average quality of the driver. Note that the quality of driver encompasses his or her driving skills, impairment, or intoxication.

The shocking study findings linked the growing ridesharing services with an increased in vehicle fatalities.

Liability in Lyft or Uber vehicle accidents

The growing popularity of ridesharing services across the country in the past few years brought attention to a wave of travelers’ questions regarding liability when auto accidents occur. These accidents are complex, and depending on the specific circumstances, responsibility for the crash can drastically change. Note that Lyft and Uber drivers are not employees for the companies they’re working for. Instead, they’re independent contractors. Now you’re beginning to understand the need to contact a legal expert to help you pursue a personal injury claim.

Uber, Lyft, and other major ridesharing corporations still perform driver background checks, driver safety education, and comprehensive vehicle checks. Just like commercial carrier insurance which is required for taxi services, both Lyft and Uber provide up to $1 million liability cover. However, this policy has some limitation regarding who it covers and when it applies.

No matter the ridesharing driver’s fault in an auto accident, the ridesharing company’s insurer will always fight any personal injury claim filed. Here, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to boost your chances of getting the right compensation for your injuries. The injured individuals can also file a claim against the vehicle driver’s personal auto insurance policy.

Unfortunately, this policy doesn’t cover anyone if the vehicle is being used for commercial reasons. And Lyft or Uber drivers are doing exactly that: using a personal auto insurance cover for business. Their insurers are likely to cancel the policy if it’s found that a personal car was being used for commercial purposes when a crash occurred.

What happens to the passengers in the ridesharing car?

If you’re riding in an insured car or hit by a rideshare vehicle that was in service at the time of the accident, you are covered by the company’s insurance policy. But if you were hit by a car that was off the clock, that driver’s insurer should be responsible. Of course, the insurance company will try to deny the claim.

Being hit by a reckless Uber or Lyft driver who is in service at the time of the crash complicates the case. The moment the driver logged in the ridesharing company’s platform, the company’s insurer kicked in but can deny the claim due to the driver’s reckless driving. As mentioned earlier, the driver is an independent contractor, and it falls to his or her personal auto insurance to handle the claim in case someone gets injured due to the driver’s actions. Unfortunately, personal auto insurers exclude coverage if a crash happened when the driver was acting for profit.

So, who is responsible?

Generally, sorting out liability and the specific insurance company responsible for covering claims associated with Lyft and Uber accidents can be lengthy, time-consuming, and complicated. Additionally, ridesharing companies teams of attorneys hired to make sure that the company pays nothing or as little as possible. Thus, handling the case on your own is never a good idea. Hire an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer.

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