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Assessing Liability in Ride-Sharing Vehicle Accidents

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC, one of the most common needs for our attorney services is in the realm of car and truck accidents. Sadly, there are tens of thousands of vehicle accidents, injuries and even deaths per year, many of which are caused by negligence or other factors that necessitate a personal injury claim.

One area here that’s on a major rise over the last several years is incidents that take place involving a ride-sharing company such as Uber or Lyft. More and more Americans are utilizing these services every year, but the legal field is still catching up in terms of liability when accidents take place involving ride-sharing drivers. Let’s go over some basic numbers here, the role insurance plays and the limited likelihood of successfully bringing suit against these companies directly.

liability ride-sharing vehicle accidents

Ride-Sharing Usage and Increasing Accident Deaths

While there is not necessarily direct proof to link these two trends, traffic incidents and fatalities have gone up over the last few years – at a similar rate to the increase in ride-sharing services, per several area of research. This has led some to speculate that more ride-sharing drivers are clogging the roads and helping contribute to a greater number of traffic incidents. And whether or not this is the case, the fact remains that many people utilize these services and need to be prepared in case an incident takes place during such a ride.

Which Insurance Applies?

In cases where you’re injured as the passenger of a ride-sharing service and your driver is at fault, the insurance coverage of the individual driver is the first place to check. If this person has a commercial insurance policy or a personal policy that includes a ride-sharing provision, you’ll be covered. The problem: Most Uber and Lyft drivers do not have this kind of insurance.

Luckily, Uber and Lyft carry third-party liability insurance coverage up to $1 million for personal and property injuries. These kick in after the driver’s own policy is used up, if applicable, so you’re covered in these cases regardless.

What about situations where your driver is not at fault and the incident was caused by another motorist? In these circumstances, you’d seek coverage from the at-fault driver’s insurance via an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. In rare cases where this third party does not have car insurance that will cover your injuries, ride-sharing companies also offer a $1 million policy for uninsured or underinsured cases.

Suits Against Ride-Sharing Companies

Uber and Lyft list their drivers as independent contractors, not employees, in large part so they don’t have to be legally responsible for driver negligence. For this reason, it’s generally very difficult to bring and win a personal injury suit directly against these companies. While you’ll generally be able to take advantage of their $1 million policies for negligence issues, suing them directly usually isn’t a viable option.

For more on who is responsible for damages in a ride-sharing vehicle accident, or to learn about any of our auto accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC today.

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