Innovative ridesharing services have drastically changed the transportation industry over the last few years. According to statistics from the state of Massachusetts, an astounding 81.3 million rides were provided last year in Massachusetts alone, many of which were in smaller communities such as Lowell, Chelmsford, Billerica, and Wilmington where, in some cases, ridesharing more than doubled.
While rideshare growth has substantial economic advantages, it also has disadvantages, namely increased car accidents. As an Uber accident lawyer and Lyft crash attorney, when Uber and Lyft drivers negligently cause accidents resulting in injury to passengers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, these victims have a right to seek compensation.
Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft do not have traditional employer/employee relationships with drivers like other taxi companies. Typically, if an employee injures someone while working, both the driver and the employer can be held liable for damages under a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, a Latin phrase meaning “that the master must answer”. For instance, UPS would normally be liable for any accidents caused by their employee-drivers.
Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft try to minimize their liability by treating their drivers as independent contractors. Consequently, when crashes happen, these companies take the position that they are not legally liable for the accidents caused by their drivers. Despite trying to avoid liability under the theory that they are not an “employer” of the driver, these companies may still be liable in some circumstances (such as if they allow a driver to be part of their network who does not have a valid driver’s license).
Fortunately, Massachusetts’ legislators recognized this disparity and passed ridesharing laws that require Uber and Lyft to carry insurance policies that benefit their drivers, which helps provide additional protection for those injured in rideshare accidents.
On August 5, 2016, Massachusetts took an important step toward protecting consumers by passing the state’s first ridesharing bill, (the “Rideshare Act”). Among other obligations (such as two-part background checks and mandatory annual vehicle inspections), the legislation closed existing insurance coverage gaps by setting insurance coverage requirements for the rideshare companies and their drivers.
To work as an Uber or Lyft driver, the Rideshare Act requires that drivers carry insurance for the following:
In addition, the Rideshare Act also requires that:
When a transportation network driver is engaged in a pre-arranged ride, the driver shall have automobile liability insurance that provides at least $1,000,000 in per occurrence, per vehicle coverage for death, bodily injury and property damage, uninsured motorist coverage, to the extent required by section 113L, and personal injury protection, to the extent required by section 34A of chapter 90. The insurance may be held by the transportation network driver, the transportation network company, or a combination thereof.
Uber and Lyft both have insurance programs that cover the insurance gap they may exist between the insurance coverage that drivers have obtained and the $1 million of coverage required under the Rideshare Act. Consequently, Uber, Lyft, and the drivers share the expense for insurance coverage, and the insurance that will be applicable in a crash will depend on whether the driver is driving a customer (or on their way to pick up a customer) or if they are instead waiting for a ride pick-up.
If Your Injured While Riding in an Uber, Lyft, or Other Rideshare Vehicle
If you’re injured while in a paid ride in an Uber, Lyft, or other Rideshare vehicle, if your driver is responsible for the accident, you would be protected under the $1 million policy. If another driver is responsible for causing the crash, they would be liable.
In this case, the insurance company for the other driver would be implicated. If that driver is uninsured, or if they are uninsured (their insurance does not cover the full extent of your injuries and damages), then the uninsured/underinsured liability company of your driver (and the insurance for the company for whom they are driving), would then be triggered.
If Your Injured by an Uber, Lyft, or Other Rideshare Driver
According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, hundreds of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists sustain incapacitating injuries in automobile accidents each year. If you are one of the individuals who was hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, you may be wondering what insurance protects you?
Timing is everything when it comes to rideshare accident; thus, the amount of coverage will depend on when the accident occurred.
If a driver is not logged into a ridesharing application when a wreck occurs, only the driver’s personal insurance policy will cover damages. However, under Lyft’s insurance policy and Uber’s insurance policy, if you are struck by a “waiting” driver (those who are online and available but have not yet been matched with a passenger), the following coverage maximums apply:
If the driver is on the way to pick up or transporting a passenger when the accident occurs, the liability coverage increases to $1,000,000 as noted above.
In car and vehicle crashes involving severe injury, insurance plays a huge role in determining whether those injured will be fully compensated for their injuries and damages, as few people have sufficient assets to pay large medical bills and other damages. Many drivers, however, are uninsured or significantly underinsured (and thus their policy will not pay for all of the damages that their drivers cause).
With the higher insurance coverage limits required for Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies, those injured in crashes will normally have a better chance of ultimately gaining full compensation than those injured by drivers having lower insurance coverage.
If you have been injured in an Uber of Lyft accident, please call me to learn about how I can help you in seeking full compensation. Additionally, I am also available to represent passengers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians injured by rideshare companies.
The first step in asserting your right to damages is to build a case against the driver who caused the accident. Under Massachusetts law, drivers have a responsibility to operate a vehicle with the same ordinary care and skill that a reasonable and prudent driver would. For instance, they must refrain from actions such as speeding, driving while intoxicated, texting, and reading maps or content on their phones. To recover, you must show that the Uber or Lyft driver failed to use appropriate care when operating the vehicle.
It is important to collect evidence to substantiate a claim as soon as possible. Police reports, traffic videos, eyewitness testimony, photographs, and phone records proving a driver was texting or logged into the rideshare app are highly persuasive and can impact the amount of money you receive. As a car accident lawyer for Uber and Lyft crashes, I will request and collect evidence to demonstrate that the driver failed to use appropriate care during the accident.
Uber and Lyft accidents involve complex legal issues that can be overwhelming for a victim. At the Law Office of Paul M. King, I have the experience and tenacity to thoroughly investigate difficult ridesharing accident cases in seeking to obtain the best outcomes for you. We will fight for compensation for your medical bills, property damage, and other losses after a crash. Call our office at (978) 851-5145 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.