The industry of ridesharing apps is immensely popular and constantly changing. As a result, both drivers and passengers are finding themselves increasingly unsure about what happens when an Uber or Lyft is involved in an auto accident. As a driver, what sort of rights do you have?
Employee vs. Third-Party Contractor
A company is generally liable for their employee’s actions, but not those of third-party contractors. Most ride-sharing apps consider their drivers to be third-party contractors. This distinction releases ridesharing companies from liability it might otherwise have.
Drivers and Insurance
Uber and Lyft both require their drivers to be licensed and carry auto insurance. In addition to the driver’s own car insurance, Uber and Lyft have additional “layers” of insurance coverage which correspond to the various phases of the ride:
When Driver Mode is Off
Only the driver’s personal insurance policy applies.
When Driver Mode is On- But No Ride Accepted
Contingent liability coverage to protect the driver if their personal insurance doesn’t. Contingent liability coverage is designed to provide coverage when the app is in driver mode before the driver has received a ride request in the event the driver’s personal insurance does not respond.
When Ride Accepted Through Ride Ends
|Primary liability insurance is designed to act as the primary coverage from the time the driver accepts a ride request until the time the ride has ended in the app.|
What Happens if a Driver Gets in an Accident?
If you are involved in an accident as an Uber or Lyft driver, regardless of who is at fault, it must be reported to the rideshare company by the driver. After that, the process is like any other accident claim. You (or the attorney you retain) will be in communication with your insurance company, and Uber/Lyft to determine fault and perhaps reach a property damage or personal injury settlement.
The driver should respond to the accident in the same manner as if it happened “off the clock”. If you, any of your passengers, or someone in another car is injured as a result of the accident, remember the steps below to best prepare for your claim:
- Call the Police.
- Take Photos & Seek Out Witnesses.
- Seek Medical Attention Immediately After the Accident.
- Keep A Diary or Journal with details of the event, names & contact information or parties involved, and documentation of any injuries.
- Avoid Public Statements & Conversations About Your Case.
- Hire an accident attorney.
It’s All Still New
The truth is, the insurance rules and policies behind third-party contractors driving for Uber/Lyft are still in flux. It is expected that as the ridesharing industry continues to grow, we will see more rules regulating insurance coverage and liability.