Rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft have become part of everyday life, especially in a busy and high volume city like Los Angeles. As an example of just how commonplace ridesharing has become, Uber alone reported a whopping 21 million trips per day in the company’s Q2 2022 report. The popularity of these ridesharing apps has also resulted in Uber accidents and Lyft accidents becoming more common. Whether you’re involved in a rideshare accident as a passenger, or with a rideshare driver (in your own vehicle), it is important to have some key information about rideshare accidents.
In this article, our team at Forward Law Group provides some fundamental information regarding rideshare accidents. We describe the different types of Uber and Lyft accidents, offer information about liability and insurance limits, and a detailed list of what to do when you’re involved in a Lyft or Uber accident. Furthermore, we also discuss the reasons why having an experienced lawyer handling your rideshare accident is helpful.
Rideshare accidents in California are no different than other vehicle accidents in the state in the sense that the liable party is the driver who caused the collision due to negligence while driving. Drivers can be considered negligent if the accident occured because they were not following the California vehicle code. For example, they were speeding or made an illegal turn that ultimately led to the collision. In the common situation of a car accident between two vehicles, the typical outcome is that either one of the drivers is completely at fault or both drivers share some responsibility.
The person who is responsible for the accident is the person who will be held liable for damages. If, for example, you were injured as a Uber or Lyft passenger and decide to sue for damages, the defendant will be the driver who is at fault. This can either be the rideshare driver or the other party. Because it can take anywhere from a few weeks to months for insurance companies to determine which driver is responsible for the accident, one option is naming parties who may be defendants when filing the lawsuit.
If an Uber or Lyft driver is involved in a car accident in California, there are three different liability limits they can have based on their driver status at the time of the accident. In other words, their insurance coverage changes based on what is referred to as ridesharing periods. Ridesharing periods include:
With Period 2 and Period 3, the rideshare company is required by California law to have a $1 million liability insurance policy. As evident, any time you are a passenger in Lyft or Uber when the vehicle is involved in an accident, the driver has higher liability limits. However, it becomes trickier if you (in your personal vehicle) get into an accident with a rideshare driver—because the insurance coverage will depend on which ridesharing period the driver is in. These ridesharing periods are important because it determines how much compensation a victim can recover.
As stated by Uber: “En route to pick up riders and during trips, Uber maintains the following auto insurance on [a driver’s] behalf in case of a covered accident: $1,000,000 third-party liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury and/or first-party injury insurance, and contingent comprehensive and collision.”
In other words, during periods 2 and 3, Uber offers higher liability limits on the Uber driver’s behalf.
As stated by Lyft: “Coverage when the app is on and drivers are en route to pick up passengers, or during rides—Lyft maintains the following insurance for covered accidents: at least $1,000,000 for third-party auto liability, first party coverages, which may include uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, PIP, MedPay, and/or Occupational Accident coverage, if a driver obtains comprehensive and collision on their personal auto policy, Lyft then maintains contingent comprehensive & collision coverage up to the actual cash value of the car ($2,500 deductible).”
Similar to Uber, Lyft also provides their rideshare drivers with boosted liability limits when their drivers are en route to pick up a passenger or are in the process of giving a ride. From the time a Lyft driver accepts a ride request until the time the ride has ended in the app, the company’s third-party auto liability insurance acts as the primary coverage.
Regardless of whether you are by yourself on a rideshare trip or with a group of friends, being a passenger in an Uber or Lyft when the vehicle gets into an accident can be frightening. In these situations, it is not uncommon for the passengers to sustain injuries, as well as have questions about how they can recover compensation for their injuries and other damages.
If someone is injured in an accident while they were a rideshare passenger, they can file a lawsuit against the party who is at fault and caused the collision to occur. If the at-fault party is the rideshare driver, the rideshare passenger can file a claim under their rideshare (Uber or Lyft) insurance policy. If both parties in the accident (the rideshare driver and a third-party driver) are at fault, the passenger can pursue compensation for damages from both parties. Lastly, if the third-party driver is solely responsible and at fault, the rideshare passenger can file a lawsuit against that third party. If by chance that third-party driver does not have auto insurance, the passenger can file a claim through the rideshare app’s underinsured or uninsured driver insurance policy.
As a passenger of an Uber or Lyft that gets into a car crash, some of the damages you can recover compensation for include:
Example: Maria got picked up by an Uber driver to go visit her friend on the other side of town. Five minutes into her Uber ride, the driver missed a turn, proceeded to make an illegal U-turn, and as a result, got into a collision with another vehicle. Maria sustained serious injuries that required the need for paramedics and a trip to the emergency room—resulting in over $30,000 in medical bills. The Uber driver was ultimately deemed as at-fault for the crash by the insurance adjusters. Maria hires an attorney and files a lawsuit against the Uber driver. Because Maria was in the Uber when the accident occurred, Uber’s $1 million limits are triggered. Once all the evidence is reviewed, the insurance company compensates Maria for all medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Below, we provide a clear set of steps to take if you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft when an accident occurs:
It is not uncommon to hear about people who do not wear a seatbelt as passengers in an Uber or Lyft. It is absolutely essential to make sure to always wear your seatbelt as a rideshare passenger. Not only is wearing a seatbelt critical to ensuring your safety if the vehicle is involved in a car accident, but it can also have implications for your claim. If you are not wearing a seatbelt when the Uber or Lyft you are in gets into a vehicle collision, the insurance company of the driver who is at fault can argue your injuries were a result of not wearing a seatbelt. Ultimately, this can severely impact your ability to recover damages.
With so many rideshare vehicles on the road across Los Angeles on a daily basis, it is becoming more and more common to hear about drivers getting into an accident with a rideshare vehicle. If you are driving your own vehicle and get into an accident with an Uber or Lyft vehicle, treat the accident as you would any other. Make sure to call the paramedics if injured, exchange information with the driver, take lots of photos, call the police to get a report, and get information from any witnesses. As a reminder, do not make any statements about fault or not having injuries. Additionally, it may be wise to consult with an experienced lawyer, like the ones at Forward Law Group, so that you are not standing up to powerful insurance companies that Uber or Lyft have backing them on your own. In many cases, the rideshare's insurance company will attempt to contact you and give you a lowball offer in the hopes you settle the matter quickly. This may result in you accepting an offer that is much lower than what you deserve or are entitled to.
Whether you are a passenger of an Uber or Lyft when the driver is involved in an accident, or you get into an accident with a rideshare driver, having a skilled attorney on your side can be extremely beneficial. By having an attorney, you can focus on recovering from the accident while they take care of everything else. From getting you the proper medical treatment you need to fully recover, communicating with insurance companies, obtaining all necessary evidence, representing you in court, and helping ensure that you fully recover compensation for your damages, an experienced lawyer will make this process simple and straightforward.
We hope that by reading this article, you have become more familiar with Uber and Lyft accidents and are better suited to handle them effectively in the unfortunate case that you are ever involved in one. If you have been in a Uber or Lyft car accident in California, call our friendly and helpful team today at (818) 471-8389. For rideshare accident cases, we provide a free, no-strings-attached consultation to better understand the details of your case and describe the ways that we can help you achieve the best outcome. In addition, we proudly work on a contingency basis for personal injury cases, meaning you do not pay anything out of pocket until your case is won.
At Forward Law Group, our team of lawyers have successfully helped clients across Los Angeles and California with personal injury lawsuits related to Uber and Lyft accidents. We are always ready and willing to go the extra mile to ensure our clients get the most desirable outcome. Throughout the case, we serve as a trusted partner and ensure the process is as stress-free as possible so clients focus on medical treatments, get the compensation they deserve, and move on with their lives. The Forward Law Group team has numerous years of experience in dealing with rideshare companies’ insurance providers, allowing us to skillfully handle the case—no matter how simple or complex.