It is an unfortunate fact of life as we know it that traffic accidents sometimes occur. In fact, they occur more often than many of us realise. Sometimes, the accidents involve a sole vehicle, while in other circumstances the traffic accident involves multiple vehicles. Regardless of the nature of the traffic incident, however, it is important to know how liability works. For different surrounding circumstances, liability will affect the impacted parties differently. In the case of rideshare companies, it is even more important to know how liability works – especially if you are a driver for one such business. The very nature of rideshare companies is insistent on the way of its operation. That is, drivers stay in one place or drive around until a job comes through, at which time they drive to pick up their passengers and get them to their destination. But what do you do if you are either in a rideshare vehicle, or involved in the same incident as a rideshare vehicle, and there is a traffic accident?
Inevitably, there will come a time where a rideshare vehicle is in an accident somewhere in the world. But what do you do if an accident occurs while you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle? How does company liability play into traffic accidents involving rideshare drivers, passengers, and vehicles? The answer is that ride share companies approach company liability differently depending on the nature and surrounding contributing factors of each traffic incident. This is why it pays to know how basic liabilities work, so that you can be sure that you are being adequately and fairly covered in the circumstance that you are somehow involved in a traffic incident that also involves a rideshare vehicle. Having this information on your side assists in making the process easier to work through, as well as understand not only at the time of the incident but in the aftermath that inevitably follows.
First and foremost, the safety of everyone involved is of the utmost importance. The rideshare driver must account for the safety of not only themselves but all passengers in the vehicle if possible. Ensuring that anyone in your vehicle – including yourself – is safe is your primary concern. Everything else can wait. If anyone requires the attention of an ambulance, call for one. Getting everyone checked out after a traffic incident is the first order of business. Afterwards, damages and the like are obviously assessed and calculated, at which time the ultimate liability of the rideshare company involved is worked out. This is when it can be challenging to understand your rights in traffic incidents involving rideshare vehicles. So, it is important to listen and pay attention so that you can be sure you are getting the appropriate compensation and handling not only during the incident, but in the aftermath.
Whether the rideshare vehicle is a part of Lyft or Uber (or any other number of rideshare vehicle companies, for that matter), there are laws and regulations in place that these companies must adhere to at least partially (if not entirely). For Uber, there is a three-tier plan that spans incidents with no liability on the part of Uber, to full coverage from the rideshare company. If an Uber driver is off-duty and just driving around, Uber accepts zero liability. This is when the driver’s personal auto insurance policy is expected to cover all damages and injuries in the accident in question. If the Uber driver is accepting passengers, but has no passenger in the vehicle at the time of the incident, the driver’s personal insurance is the primary coverage in any accident claim that is filed. This is when Uber provides the excess coverage, in the event that the driver’s personal insurance does not fully compensate the other driver(s) involved. And if an Uber driver has a paying passenger in the vehicle, both driver and passenger(s) are covered under the company’s $1 million policy.
For Lyft, on the other hand, the approach to company liability is quite similar with a few key differences. There is also a $1 million comprehensive plan in place. This plan is only actioned as the primary insurance coverage when a Lyft driver is physically transporting a paying customer. When the Lyft driver app is off, that driver’s personal auto insurance policy covers accidental expenses. When the Lyft driver app is on and the vehicle becomes available to passengers, the vehicle is then subject to partial coverage by the rideshare business’ auto insurance. This is similar to Uber again, but in the case of Lyft, contingent liability will indeed provide coverage if the driver’s personal insurance “does not respond”. And when a Lyft driver accepts a new passenger through the app, Lyft’s policy comes into full effect immediately and until the job is marked as “complete” via the app.
It is important to always be aware of your rights and the surrounding liabilities that are in place when a traffic accident occurs. This is especially true in the case of rideshare vehicles and their involvement in traffic accidents. If any criminal conduct is involved, you should consult a criminal defense lawyer like Jarrett Maillet. Different rideshare companies have slightly different approaches to handling these types of road incidents, but ultimately what it comes down to is taking the responsibility when it is necessary and knowing what to do when you are not at fault, yet still involved in the traffic incident in question. Each circumstance differs from the one that occurs before or after it, so understanding it all properly is crucial. Whether the rideshare vehicle involved is an Uber or a Lyft (or any other type of rideshare vehicle on the roads today), knowing how the liabilities work when traffic accidents occur can and often does make the difference between surviving these incidents (both figuratively and literally) and thriving despite the unfortunate occurrence.
Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C.
210 E 31st St
Savannah, GA 31401