Modern rideshare companies have only existed since 2010, and legislation is still catching up. One area where legal regulations are still lacking is civil liability. For years, there was significant debate over when rideshare companies might be liable for injuries caused by their drivers.
Uber and Lyft have finally taken steps to answer these questions themselves. In recent years, these industry giants have begun offering four-stage insurance plans for all drivers to cover accidents while on the clock. Here’s why these policies are so important and how they work.
The Issues With Rideshare Liability Claims
Taxi companies have had personal injury and car accident liability figured out for decades. Why is rideshare liability different? It’s because of how these companies operate.
Ridesharing is part of the “gig economy,” meaning that drivers are considered independent contractors rather than employees. Instead of being paid wages by their employer, they enter a contract to fulfill a task for a set fee. As a result, rideshare companies spent years arguing that they shouldn’t be held liable for drivers’ accidents.
Insurance companies disagreed with this idea. Many car insurers quickly instituted clauses that exclude accidents while driving a rideshare from coverage, forcing rideshare workers to choose between going uninsured or halting their jobs. This also put passengers at risk of financial consequences since the lack of insurance made filing personal injury claims significantly harder. Risk-conscious people began avoiding these platforms to prevent insurance battles.
That’s why Uber and Lyft finally provided drivers with coverage. It was their best option to retain their workforce and avoid alienating customers.
The Four-Period Rideshare Insurance Model
Today, Lyft and Uber provide similar insurance coverage, offering up to $1 million to drivers and passengers in liability and uninsured/underinsured protection. These policies define four periods of operation, each of which involves a specific level of protection:
- Period 0: The driver is offline and not looking to accept a ride. The rideshare company policy offers no protection because they are not working. The driver’s normal policy applies.
- Period 1: The driver is online looking for riders but has not accepted a ride. The company’s policy provides liability-only coverage of $25,000 in property damage liability, $50,000 in personal injury for one person, and $100,000 for multiple people, to meet and exceed California’s minimums.
- Period 2: The driver has accepted a ride request but has not yet picked up a rider. Both Uber and Lyft offer at least $1 million in total liability.
- Period 3: The driver has picked up a passenger and is en route to their destination. The coverage during this period is very similar to Period 2.
The big place where Lyft and Uber differ is in their deductibles. Uber has a flat $1000 deductible for comprehensive and collision claims, while Lyft has a $2500 deductible.
If you’re a frequent rideshare passenger, all of this is good news. Passengers are only present during periods 2 and 3, so they benefit from the highest amount of coverage offered by Lyft and Uber.
How to File an Uber or Lyft Injury Claim
If you’ve been hurt in a rideshare accident, the driver’s company may be liable for your injuries. You can file an Uber or Lyft injury claim to seek compensation for your medical expenses and other losses. Here’s how to handle your Lyft or Uber injury claim:
- Call 911 or notify the authorities: Immediately after an accident, notify the appropriate authorities. If anyone is seriously injured or remains in danger, call 911.
- Collect information about the driver: Once the immediate danger has passed, collect information about your driver, including their name, license number, and insurance. Document the accident scene and get information from other drivers involved.
- Contact the rideshare company: Uber and Lyft have online portals where you can file complaints or report accidents. Submit your accident report as soon as possible to kickstart the claim process, but don’t respond or accept any offers by the company just yet.
- Talk to an attorney: It is always worthwhile to talk to a lawyer after getting in a car accident. A skilled attorney will help you navigate the process of filing injury insurance claims and represent you if a lawsuit is necessary.
Rideshare accidents are unfortunately common in California. However, the new insurance policies provided by Lyft and Uber make pursuing compensation for your injuries much easier. At The Wakeford Law Firm, our dedicated attorneys are prepared to help you fight for your deserved compensation. Learn more about how we can assist you by scheduling your consultation with our San Francisco rideshare law firm today.