You may be entitled to compensation if you have been injured in an accident involving Uber or Lyft. Contact the law offices of Edelstein Martin & Nelson to learn more about your legal rights and how we can help you.
Since the introduction of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, millions of Americans have relied on them to get them where they are going safely. Unfortunately, rideshare drivers are just as prone to the common risks of the road as any other driver.
There are approximately 1.7 million rideshare drivers in the United States as of 2023, with Uber and Lyft accounting for nearly all of them. Additionally, 36% of our 300 million US population has stated that they’ve used Uber or Lyft to get where they need to go at least once in their lives.
Many use these rideshare companies to get home after a night out, and their desire to keep themselves and others safe is hindered if the car they are riding in is involved in an accident. If you were involved in an accident while using Uber or Lyft, you may find yourself frustrated and confused about what you should do next. You tried to take the safer option, only to find yourself under a mountain of medical bills and in a constant back and forth with various insurance companies. What do you do now?
What Makes a Rideshare Accident Different From Other Car Accidents?
Rideshare accidents are different from regular car accidents or even typical commercial vehicle accidents for several reasons:
- Many parties can be held liable. In a regular car accident, generally one driver is at fault, or a combination of two drivers, which is fairly cut and dry. But with ridesharing, there could be several liable parties including the Uber or Lyft driver, another driver, and the rideshare company itself.
- Uber and Lyft drivers generally use their own personal vehicles to provide transportation to others, and they are not required to go through any training or licensing process other than what you need to receive a valid driver’s license. All they need is their regularly insured vehicle and a willingness to drive others around.
- Even though rideshare drivers aren’t required to have commercial insurance, Uber and Lyft provide commercial coverage while their drivers are on duty. A driver is considered “on duty” any time they accept a request for a ride.
This can make an accident extra confusing for anyone involved in terms of determining liability. Regardless of who caused the accident, if you find yourself involved in one, report the incident through your Uber or Lyft app as soon as possible, seek medical care, and then contact an attorney.
Common Causes of Rideshare Accidents
Rideshare drivers have a duty of care to their clients to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. This includes obeying traffic signals and common road laws, and not driving while under the influence. By breaking this duty of care while behind the wheel, Uber and Lyft drivers endanger their clients, themselves, and anyone else on the road.
Some of the most common causes of rideshare accidents are:
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Reckless driving
- Passing where it is not lawful
- Poor vehicle maintenance
If you feel that your rideshare accident was due to your driver’s negligence, call Edelstein Martin & Nelson to schedule your free case evaluation.
Common Rideshare Accident Injuries
Injuries associated with rideshare accidents are very similar to those we see in any other car accident. These can include:
- Neck and whiplash injuries: These are very common and happen due to the sudden jerking caused by a collision, causing severe neck pain and stiffness.
- Broken or fractured bones: The impact of a car accident can easily fracture a bone, such as the smaller bones in your fingers or the larger bones in your arms and legs. Fractured ribs are also common due to airbags.
- Spinal cord damage: This very severe injury can cause paralysis and other long-term damage to your body.
- Head injuries: It is not uncommon for someone to hit their head or to be hit by debris in a car accident. Injuries can range from concussions to skull fractures to serious brain injuries that can affect you for the rest of your life.
- Wrongful death: There is always the risk of dying in a car accident. If you lost a loved one in a rideshare accident, call our offices to learn what rights you have to bring a wrongful death claim.
Even if you believe your injuries are minor, seeking medical care immediately after a car accident is always a good idea. Adrenaline can mask symptoms of an injury, and internal injuries can go unnoticed. A medical evaluation will give you peace of mind if nothing is wrong, and may save your life if something is indeed wrong. Additionally, having that medical record in place from the day of the accident can help establish evidence if you end up needing to file a personal injury claim.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
An accident during an Uber or Lyft trip is going to be different from a normal car accident between two parties, or even a commercial accident involving a trucking company. Commercial accidents generally involve more than one liable party, but rideshare accidents present some unique circumstances that can make a personal injury claim more difficult.
While Uber and Lyft drivers carry their own personal insurance, it may not apply to an accident claim. A lot of policies exclude “business activities” from their services, which means that an Uber or Lyft driver probably won’t be able to use their own coverage for the accident.
The more popular rideshare companies do have their own insurance that they provide to their drivers, but dealing with them can often be overwhelming. Making things even more confusing is Pennsylvania’s hybrid car insurance model.
Pennsylvania’s Car Insurance Model: Limited Tort vs. Full Tort Coverage
In the state of Pennsylvania, drivers are able to choose what kind of coverage they would like to have. Depending on the coverage your rideshare driver has, this could potentially make a difference in your claim. When preparing your policy as a driver in Pennsylvania, you will have two options: Limited Tort or Full Tort.
Limited Tort Coverage is what most drivers go with, as it comes with a less expensive monthly premium. However, if you have limited tort coverage, you waive your right to compensation for pain and suffering.
Full Tort Coverage is more expensive monthly, but if you ever find yourself needing to file a claim, you will likely appreciate the nominal monthly difference when you can be compensated for far more.
Coverage for pain and suffering means you can receive damages for the emotional toil caused by the accident. Since pain and suffering damages generally include things like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, we believe it is well worth the extra cost.
Filing an Injury Claim After a Rideshare Accident
Filing a claim after a rideshare accident can be complex. Many factors affect the process, like knowing how the accident occurred, who was at fault, and whether the driver was actively working.
If you have full tort coverage, you can receive compensation for all damages related to the accident, including lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life.
But if you only have limited tort coverage, you might only be covered for certain out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident, like medical bills.
However, you may be able to file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver even if you only have limited tort coverage, but in order to do this you must prove that your injuries meet Pennsylvania’s serious injury threshold.
It is also important to note that Pennsylvania has a 2 year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, which means that you must file your claim within two years of the date of the accident.
Filing a claim can be a very complicated process, so if you have any questions about your rights or how to file against a rideshare company, reach out to one of our rideshare accident attorneys. We can represent you on a contingency fee basis so you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket to get help.
Available Coverage For Uber and Lyft Drivers
Uber and Lyft do provide insurance coverage to their drivers, but since accidents involving rideshare drivers are often complex, liability insurance has several limitations. Some cases might involve more than one insurance company, including the driver’s personal car insurance.
The limitations on Uber and Lyft coverage are listed below:
Uber only provides coverage when the driver is actively working. They must be logged into the app, either having a passenger in the car or waiting to pick someone up. If an accident happens while the driver isn’t actively working, then their personal car insurance will need to cover the damages.
The third-party liability insurance that Uber provides includes:
- $50,000 for bodily injury per person
- $100,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 in property damage per accident
If the driver is on their way to pick up someone and is then in an accident, the insurance covers:
- $100,000 for third-party liability
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury and/or first-party injury insurance
- Contingent comprehensive and collision coverage up to the actual cash value of the car with a $2,500 deductible
Lyft’s coverage is similar to Uber in that the driver must be logged into the app to receive their company coverage. If they aren’t logged in then they must use their personal car insurance. But if the driver is in the car and waiting for a passenger, Lyft will provide liability insurance if the driver’s personal insurance doesn’t apply. This includes:
- $50,000 per person for bodily injury
- $100,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
If there is a passenger inside the car at the time of the accident, then Lyft coverage offers:
- $1,000,000 for third-party automobile liability
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury
- Contingent comprehensive and collision up to the actual cash value of the vehicle with a $2,500 deductible
Why You Shouldn’t Accept Settlements From Rideshare Companies
After your accident, Uber or Lyft will likely offer you a settlement payout. This may seem like a relief to you, but you should be aware that insurance companies are notorious for lowballing settlement offers so that they don’t lose as much money. They will especially do this if they know you do not have legal counsel representing your best interests.
Before accepting any offer from a rideshare insurance company, call one of our rideshare lawyers to negotiate for you. The insurance company is likely trying to get you to accept too little to cover your expenses. We can use our skills and knowledge to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf for a far better outcome.
Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as independent contractors and not employees. Because of this, these companies do not have to uphold the usual vicarious liability for their drivers’ negligence. This means that they have found a loophole around paying for workers’ compensation or any injuries to others caused while one of their drivers was working.
Generally, liability will fall with either the rideshare driver or another driver that caused the accident. It is still possible to sue companies like Uber or Lyft, but for that you will absolutely need an experienced rideshare accident attorney to proceed.
Rideshare drivers are not held to the same safety standards as, for example, taxi drivers or bus drivers. Uber and Lyft drivers are responsible for their own vehicle inspections and safety practices. This only adds to the difficulty of determining liability in personal injury claims.
What to Do if You are Injured in an Uber or Lyft Accident
If you’ve been involved in an accident, you may not know what steps you should take next. Here is a quick guide to help you through:
- Call 911 to alert police and medical professionals of the accident, especially if there are any injuries.
- Report the accident to the rideshare company (you can usually do this within the app).
- If you are able, document the accident with photographs and videos of the accident scene, any damage, and any injuries.
- Seek medical treatment. This may need to be the first thing you do if your injuries are severe enough. Medical professionals are usually present at the accident site, or you can visit a hospital or doctor’s office afterward.
- File a police report and hold onto any documentation, including contact information from other drivers or eyewitnesses to the accident.
- Contact Edelstein Martin & Nelson to learn what your legal options are.
The rideshare insurance company will likely contact you to learn more about the accident. It is wise to speak with your attorney before speaking with any other party to the accident, to avoid accidentally saying something that could hurt your claim.
Compensation for Damages
Your compensation may be affected by your choice in limited tort or full tort coverage. You will want to discuss this with your attorney, but generally you are entitled to compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses such as ambulance rides, hospital and doctor’s visits, surgery, and aftercare
- Lost wages for any time you had to take off work to heal from your injuries
- Lost income capacity, because if you cannot return to work, you could be compensated for losing the ability to earn money
- Property damage for any personal items you lost in the accident
- Pain and suffering, such as the emotional damage caused by the accident
How a Rideshare Accident Attorney Can Help
Even the most cut-and-dry car accidents can be complex. But it can quickly become overwhelming when the accident involves multiple insurance companies, including a rideshare corporation.
An attorney can help you navigate the process in the following ways:
- Gathering evidence to prove negligence and liability: This might include recovering police reports, taking photos of the accident scene, or interviewing eyewitnesses.
- Calculate fair compensation for your injuries: We will consider your injuries’ severity and the costs you are facing and will face in the future to accurately calculate an adequate settlement amount.
- Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf: Insurance companies know all the tricks to avoid paying you a fair settlement. We will deal with the insurance companies for you so you can be assured you receive the compensation you deserve.
- Go to trial if the settlement offered isn’t satisfactory: We will not hesitate to proceed to trial in the event that the insurance companies do not want to offer a fair settlement.
Contact a Pennsylvania Rideshare Accident Attorney
When all you are wanting is a safe ride home, it can be especially difficult to deal with the aftermath of a car accident involving the company you called to ensure your arrival. The Pennsylvania rideshare accident attorneys at Edelstein Martin & Nelson are here to help you navigate the hardships you may be facing so that you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery.
Give us a call at 888-208-1810 for your free consultation, and let us take care of your legal battle so you can focus on your recovery.