Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have changed the way people—particularly in larger cities—get from point A to point B. However, it is important to understand the safety and liability issues that come with these new technologies.
These rideshare services work by adding a technological twist to hailing a cab. Using smartphone apps, these services connect car owners with people looking for a ride. The ride-seeker simply drops a pin showing his or her location and potential drivers can log into the app, pick up the passenger, and drop them off at their destination.
While these new technologies make it much easier for riders and drivers to connect with each other, many people don’t think about the liability issues involved. Taxicab and limousine drivers are required to comply with a variety of regulations (e.g. displaying their certification from the city, following certain rules at the taxi stand, etc.), but Uber drivers and the like are not required to follow these regulations. While there are certain rules and standards that these drivers must follow, they are typically set by the company involved, not a government body or municipality.
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If you suffer an injury while using a rideshare service, one of the biggest issues could be insurance. Official taxi services retain commercial insurance coverage to cover themselves in case of an accident, but these policies are not designed for rideshare services. Plus, it is highly unlikely that the rideshare driver’s personal auto insurance will cover injuries or damage sustained in an accident; typically, a personal auto insurance policy will not cover rides given for commercial purposes.
However, Uber is one ridesharing service that is working to address the insurance and liability issue. Uber retains a $1 million insurance policy for driver liability in the case of an accident, and it conducts background checks for all “transportation partners” before they begin driving for Uber.
“From the time a driver accepts a trip request through our app until the completion of the ride, our partners have $1 million of coverage for driver liability,” according to the Uber website. “We were also the first ridesharing request service to include $1 million of coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists, meaning that passengers and drivers are also covered for injuries when another party is at fault and lacks sufficient insurance. This $1 million coverage from trip acceptance to drop-off is consistent across cities. This coverage kicks in regardless of whether the driver’s personal insurance applies to the trip. We have also added contingent comprehensive and collision insurance during trips, up to $50,000/incident with a $1,000 deductible.”
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While this is good news for Uber users, there are still plenty of grey areas when it comes to liability and ridesharing services. If you suffer an injury while using a rideshare service, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away. You could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, property damage, time missed from work, and more, depending on the circumstances of your accident.