If you get into a car accident with another driver, determining who is responsible is already confusing enough. You may need witnesses, photographs, police reports, and other information to prove to an insurance company (or a court) you weren’t at fault. Not to mention, you have to deal with the physical pain and emotional fallout from a traumatic event. But things get even murkier when there is a third party involved.
Companies like Uber and Lyft have become powerhouses in the rideshare industry, and they’ve revolutionized the way people get around. But if you get into an accident during a ride from Uber or Lyft, who is responsible for paying for the damages? Let’s explore this potentially complicated issue. It depends on a few factors, such as who caused the accident, who was driving, and who owns the car you were riding in.
What if my Uber driver was at fault?
If your Uber driver was responsible for the accident and they were using the app at the time of the crash, Uber will take responsibility. Uber has a liability insurance policy that will cover up to $1 million. This covers both the driver and the passenger and includes medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Lyft’s policy is almost identical.
What if another driver is at fault?
If your accident was caused by another driver while you were a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, Uber may not need to get involved at all. The other driver’s insurance is responsible for paying for any damages needed. However, this is assuming that the other driver has adequate insurance. Oklahoma drivers are required to carry car insurance, but that doesn’t mean they do.
If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, Uber and Lyft also both carry uninsured and underinsured coverage policies. This also applies in the event of a hit-and-run. MedPay may kick in to cover any medical expenses regardless of who is at fault.
Sometimes fault isn’t as cut and dry as you’d like. For instance, if the accident was caused by a defect in the Uber or Lyft vehicle you’re riding in, either the driver or the vehicle or manufacturer could be at fault and responsible for any injuries or other damages.
Sometimes, multiple parties can be at fault for an accident. If your driver was distracted by a passenger or their phone, they could be found negligent. This is also true if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It’s also worth noting that regulations on rideshare services vary from state to state. California was the first state to pass laws regulating rideshare, setting a precedent that other states have followed to varying degrees. Oklahoma followed suit by implementing the $1 million liability coverage. Oklahoma also requires all drivers to carry bodily liability insurance for up to $50,000 per accident or $25,000 per person, so Uber and Lyft are required to obey these requirements too.
What should you do if you’re in an Uber or Lyft that gets into an accident?
Just because you don’t need to worry about your own insurance policy as an Uber passenger, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you need to do. Your process following the accident will resemble the steps you should take following any accident:
- Make sure everyone is okay – As always, safety is your first priority. Talk to your driver and the driver(s) of the other vehicle or vehicles and make sure nobody needs immediate medical assistance. This includes yourself. If you’re hurt, that always comes first. If everyone seems okay, you can move on to the next step.
- Report the accident – Your Uber driver or the other driver may do this on their own, but you should at least double check that it gets done. Make sure they call the police, but also make sure Uber also gets contacted. This is the best way to ensure Uber’s insurance policy will take effect.
- Document the damage – Take photos and write down or voice record your side of the story. Do this even if your driver and the other driver are doing it too. You’ll want your own record of the events just in case something goes wrong later.
- Gather information – Get as much information as you can from all drivers involved in the accident. This includes names, license numbers, and insurance policy numbers. Even if it seems clear who is at fault, document both sides anyway.
- Seek medical treatment – Even if you don’t feel hurt right away, it’s important to get a medical examination. Sometimes injuries take a few hours or even days to become noticeable. If you don’t seek treatment right away, you risk worse injury or an insurance company claiming your injuries didn’t occur due to the accident.
- Contact a personal injury attorney – An insurance company may make you a quick offer, often when you are still reeling from the accident. If you accept this offer, there’s nothing you can do to improve the settlement later. Claims adjusters will usually try to lowball you, so refuse anything until you are able to speak with a lawyer. They will be able to negotiate a better settlement and guide you on what further steps you should take.
Maples, Nix, and Diesselhorst are here to stand with you
If you or a loved one has been the victim of catastrophic or permanent injuries while a passenger in a rideshare vehicle like Uber or Lyft, we offer our sincerest condolences that such an unfortunate event happened to you. If you believe you may have a case, contact us today for a free consultation.