In the last 10 years, transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft have become the preferred mode of transportation for millions of Californians every year. However, along with the convenience and affordability of these services comes the risk of serious accidents involving injuries. Because drivers for Uber and Lyft are considered contract workers and not employees of the multi-billion dollar rideshare companies, it can be difficult for injured passengers to get the personal injury compensation they deserve. However, California law requires these companies to carry liability insurance and to cover their drivers while transporting passengers.
You Need an Experienced Rideshare Accident Attorney Fighting for You
Anyone with a vehicle can be a rideshare driver, and that’s a big part of the problem. Unlike bus and taxi drivers, no special license or driver training is required to get the rideshare app, put a sticker in the window, and start picking up passengers. Because of this, you may be taking your life into your hands when you order an Uber or Lyft. If you are injured in a rideshare crash as a passenger, as a pedestrian, or as another motorist on the road hit by a driver who was using a rideshare app at the time of the collision, the amount of compensation you can get and who you will get it from depends on which “period” the driver was in at the time of the accident.
- Period 0 – Driver’s rideshare app is turned off. If the driver causes an accident, their personal auto policy liability coverage will apply.
- Period 1 – Driver’s rideshare app is on, and they are waiting to be matched with a passenger. If the driver causes a crash during this time, their personal rideshare insurance policy liability coverage will apply. If the driver hasn’t purchased that coverage, the TNC provides liability coverage up to the state-required minimums (50/100/30). The TNC is also required to provide $200,000 in excess liability coverage.
- Period 2 – Driver’s rideshare app is on, and they have accepted a passenger. Once the driver is en route to pick up a passenger, they are covered by the TNC’s $1 million liability policy.
- Period 3 – The passenger has been picked up. The TNC’s $1 million liability coverage continues from the moment the passenger enters the vehicle until the ride is complete.
There are additional layers of umbrella insurance that cover the specific rideshare companies above the $1 million liability insurance coverage depending on what “period” the driver was in at the time of the collision. For serious injuries, the $1,000,000 liability policy which covers the TNC driver may not be sufficient to cover past and future medical care and lost wages. It takes an experienced personal injury lawyer like Joshua Cohen Slatkin, who is well versed in litigating against rideshare companies, to obtain the evidence and hold the rideshare companies accountable to obtain successful resolutions above the $1,000,000 liability policy.
Even if you can prove that you were injured when the driver was in a covered period, you will also have to prove that the TNC driver was at fault for the crash. The rideshare company’s insurer will not want to pay the claim and will fight you every step of the way. This is why you need an experienced California rideshare accident lawyer on your side.
Take These Steps to Protect Your Claim Against Uber or Lyft
As a rideshare passenger or a pedestrian, a crash is even more shocking for you than it is for the driver. With no warning, you are suddenly knocked around, possibly suffering serious injuries. If you are able, however, we recommend doing the following at the scene of the accident:
- Call the police. Don’t allow the rideshare driver to talk you out of contacting the police. You will need an official police report to make your claim.
- Take photos of the accident. Use your phone to take pictures of the car, license plate, what the car hit, the area surrounding the crash, and your injuries.
- Write down the driver’s information. Ask for the driver’s name, address, phone number, and personal insurance company. If they do not cooperate, wait for the police to arrive.
- Get the names of witnesses. If there are bystanders who saw the accident, ask for their names and phone numbers. They might be key witnesses later on.
- See a doctor. Go to urgent care or your doctor as soon as possible after the crash. It’s important that your injuries be evaluated and that you start treatment right away.
- Report the crash to the TNC. For Uber, log into your account, select “Help” from the pull-down menu and click on “Trip Issues and Refunds.” Select the relevant trip and then click “Report a Safety Issue.” You can then select “I was involved in an accident” and report what happened. Other TNCs like Lyft, have similar reporting methods.
- Contact an attorney. Before speaking to an insurance company or agreeing to any kind of settlement, contact an accident attorney.