In many cities across the United States, ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have become wildly popular. These apps provide an alternative to taxi services and offer convenience when booking a ride. With just a simple tap on your smartphone, you can get a ride to whatever destination you have in mind. Another ease that these apps provide is the cashless transaction option. The payment and billing are handled within in the app, and you have the choice to use your credit card to pay instead of cash.
So, what can you do in case you get into an accident while riding an Uber or Lyft? Will you be able to sue the company for injury and damages that you sustained during the accident? The short answer is no. Uber and Lyft drivers are considered to be independent contractors meaning that they function as independent third parties and are not employed by the ride-hailing companies.
While companies may be held liable for the actions of their employees, they are not responsible for injury or damage caused by the negligence of independent contractors; this is because of the legal doctrine of respondent superior or “let the superior answer.” In the case of Uber and Lyft drivers, they have autonomy on their work schedules, work conditions, and use their private vehicles to do their job, meaning that they can work independently without much input from the company. Uber and Lyft only provide their drivers the app that connects them to passengers. Because of this, Uber and Lyft have a very limited legal liability when it comes to their driver’s actions making it tough to pursue legal action against them.
What these companies do as an additional safety measure is to provide additional coverage for their drivers. Uber and Lyft require all their drivers to have their own car insurance before they could become accredited drivers. The companies will then give their drivers two additional coverage. The first one covers accidents that occur when a driver is available to accept passengers via the app but is not transporting passengers yet, meaning that when an accredited driver gets into an accident while looking for passengers, the company’s coverage will be the primary source of compensation for injury and damages. The second additional coverage applies when an accredited driver is transporting a passenger when they get into an accident. In situations like this, the companies provide $1 million liability coverage for their drivers.
The process of filing a claim when you get into an accident while riding an Uber or Lyft car is the same as when you get into an accident with a private vehicle. If the at-fault party is the Uber or Lyft driver, you may file a claim with their insurance company and the insurance company that carries Uber or Lyft’s additional insurance. You should get in touch with a lawyer immediately and ask them to send preservation of evidence letters to Uber or Lyft and the driver to make sure that the data related to your ride will be preserved. On the other hand, if the at-fault party is not the Uber or Lyft driver, then you should file a claim against the other driver’s insurance. If the other driver’s insurance isn’t able to cover the damages caused by the accident, Uber and Lyft have a $1 million underinsured motorist policies that could apply.