In recent years, ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have taken off as an alternative to taxi services that can be cheaper, easier on the consumer, and more reliable.
As a Memphis car accident lawyer, I welcome any options out there that curb drunk driving. A lot of riders depend on Uber and other car-share services to get them home after a night out. In that sense they’re a lot like taxis, and if they help save lives, I’m all for it.
But what happens when you’re in an accident while riding in an Uber, or if an Uber driver causes an accident?
Traditional cab companies are licensed and regulated by the state, which means they have special insurance requirements and laws about what to do when they cause an accident.
But with ride-sharing, there aren’t a lot of regulations in place yet. A lot of times the company’s insurance is backup for the driver’s insurance. The driver is considered a contractor, so he’s not regulated the same way a cab driver would be.
In Memphis, there are some regulations in place, but very few that affect who is responsible in the case of an accident.
I believe one of the first things you should do after an accident involving one of these services is contact a car accident lawyer. Do that before speaking with anyone’s insurance company, and before you try to file a claim with the company you think was responsible.
Passengers and Other Drivers in Ride-Share Accidents: Who’s to Blame?
When an Uber driver is on call but not carrying a passenger, Uber has a history of claiming they aren’t liable for the accident. That means it can be complicated for victims to get compensation for their medical expenses and vehicle damage.
In one horrific case, an on-call driver without a passenger hit and killed a 6-year-old girl, and Uber denied responsibility because the driver wasn’t carrying a passenger at the time.
In situations like this, victims may be able to pursue compensation through the driver’s insurance policy. But they might also be able to get compensation through the ride-share company, even if the company doesn’t want to pay.
To get that compensation, you’ll need to prove the accident was the driver’s fault. To do that, and to navigate which group should be responsible for paying, you really need a car accident lawyer.
If you’re a passenger in a ride-share vehicle at the time of the accident, you will most likely be covered through the ride-share company’s insurance policy. These policies change often, and not every service is the same, so it’s still best to consult with a lawyer before trying to make your claim or giving an official statement.
Protection for Uber Drivers After an Accident
Drivers for these services also need to be very careful. When you’re “driving for hire” — like when you use your vehicle to make extra money — your insurance policy might not cover you. They expect the hiring company to pay for accidents.
But companies like Uber often require drivers to use their own insurance. They provide additional coverage, but that coverage doesn’t necessarily cover the cost of the accident.
So what are you supposed to do? If you’re insurance won’t pay and then Uber refuses to pay as well, you’re in a tough spot.
Before you ever start driving with a ride-share service, you should make sure you have the correct insurance in place. Get confirmation from your insurance company that your policy covers “driving for hire.” If it doesn’t, there are other policies out there that do. You can add them to what you already have or change policies.
If, as a driver, you end up in an accident, it’s more important than ever to get a car accident lawyer. And because you’re dealing with your own employer, in a sense, it’s also important not to speak with the company’s representatives.
Talk only to your lawyer, so the company can’t claim you said something that would hurt your case.
The Future of Ride-Sharing and the Law
It’s important to remember these companies are very young, and their policies are still evolving.
There will no doubt be a lot of legal battles to come, and the courts will figure out who is responsible when things go wrong.
In the meantime, the best thing you can do after an accident with an Uber driver, or any other ride-share service, is contact a car accident attorney. Do it first thing, as soon as you can.
A good car accident lawyer will be able to figure out who is at fault for the accident, and who is responsible for paying for it. As you can see from the info above, that can get really complicated. It’s definitely not something you want to handle by yourself, especially as the rules keep changing.
If you’ve been in an accident with Uber, Lyft, or any similar service, let our car accident lawyers help. Contact us today to speak with an attorney for free.