Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized how many people in Federal Way and beyond get around. However, technology often moves faster than the law.
So, what happens if you’re injured in an accident when ridesharing – or by a ridesharing vehicle? What protection do you have under Washington law for injuries resulting from accidents with cars for hire?
What do Uber and Lyft’s insurance policies cover you for? And, if you need to make a personal injury claim, what steps should you take?
Car accident claims are usually brought directly against the driver who caused the crash and the auto insurance pays for damages. As you will see, this may not apply in the case of an accident involving Uber or Lyft.
Was your accident caused by driver distraction?
Many Uber and Lyft drivers rely on GPS devices to indicate directions to destinations or to locate the next client.
Sometimes, drivers use their hands to interact with the app or to read a text or change the music. Both hands cannot be on the wheel and it can result in serious accidents for passengers or other drivers/pedestrians.
Distraction-related car accidents are on the rise because of this. Unlike qualified and experienced taxi drivers who can often deal better with distractions in their vehicles, ridesharing drivers may be more prone to mistakes.
If you suspect driver distraction caused an accident in a Uber or Lyft rideshare, speak to a personal injury lawyer specializing in these types of accidents.
Other typical causes of rideshare accidents in Washington
As well as driver distraction, accidents in Uber and Lyft rideshare vehicles can be caused by other factors common to many road accidents, such as:
- Driving too closely to the vehicle in front
- Driving while under the influence
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving a vehicle not fit for the job
- Failure to obey traffic signals
- Failure to yield to the right of way
- Reckless driving (e.g. weaving in and out of traffic or driving aggressively)
Each of these potential causes of accidents could result in a Uber or Lyft driver being held liable for any injuries caused due to negligence.
Are there specific ridesharing laws in Washington state?
Fortunately, the State of Washington has already adopted some laws that cover ridesharing (often called TNC or Transport Communication Network services) to address issues of passenger safety and car accident liability.
These laws hold drivers “to a reasonable and ordinary standard of care,” and civil and criminal penalties may apply to rideshare companies that violate these laws.
Were you hit by a rideshare vehicle in Federal Way?
One of the most common types of personal injury claims involving Uber or Lyft drivers is where a rideshare vehicle strikes another car or pedestrian, often resulting in serious injury.
In these cases, you need the guidance of an experienced car accident lawyer to piece together what happened, help determine liability, and file a claim against the negligent party.
The claims process is different depending on whether the driver in question was working or not…
Who is liable for a Federal Way rideshare accident?
If the driver was signed into Uber or Lyft and was working at the time (driving a passenger or waiting for a request) the company could be held liable and their “umbrella” insurance policy would be the target of the claim.
Rideshare companies may also bear liability if a passenger sustained injuries because:
- A dangerous vehicle was knowingly permitted on its platform
- A substandard driver was employed in the knowledge of a poor driving record (or criminal record)
- A driver’s criminal or driving conviction was missed during a background check
- Rider safety information was not displayed before pickup
If, however, the driver was not working at the time of the accident, the claim would usually need to be made against the driver’s personal auto insurance policy.
Personal injury protection (PIP) policies may also be relevant in these cases. Speak to a lawyer, who will help determine liability and explain how you can maximize your claim for damages.
What are Uber and Lyft’s insurance policies in Washington state?
Uber and Lyft both have extensive insurance policies that cover injuries to passengers and other drivers or pedestrians on the road.
This is extremely important as most standard auto insurance policies do not protect drivers while using their vehicles for business purposes, including while driving for hire.
Uber’s insurance policies
If an Uber driver is signed in to work and waiting for a ride request, he or she is covered by an insurance policy limited to:
- $50,000 per person
- $100,000 per accident for bodily injuries
- $25,000 for property damage
If the driver is on the way to pick you up or you are already a passenger in the vehicle, you are covered (third-party liability coverage) up to $1 million. That is the maximum you can claim if you are injured as a passenger and the Uber driver is at fault.
If another driver without insurance causes an accident in which you are injured, you are also covered under the Uber insurance policy.
Lyft’s insurance policies
Lyft also provides extensive auto insurance coverage for drivers and passengers, including contingent liability insurance for the driver while they are working and waiting for a ride request:
- Limit of $50,000 per person
- $100,000 per accident for bodily injuries
- $25,000 for property damage
Again, once your request is accepted or you are picked up as a passenger you are covered up to $1 million for primary automobile liability, contingent comprehensive and collision coverage, as well as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Note that all insurance companies work to minimize losses. Any offer made to you as a settlement is likely to be on the low side and should be discussed with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you sign any paperwork.
What steps should you take following a rideshare accident?
Any road accident can be a traumatic experience. If possible, immediately after an accident during an Uber or Lyft rideshare, take the following steps:
- Ensure that everyone involved gets thoroughly checked out by a medical professional – even minor injuries can develop complications and some injuries only become evident much later after an accident.
- Collect the relevant information from all parties involved, including license plate information, insurance information, contact details of witnesses, etc.
- Take a screenshot of the Uber or Lyft driver’s page for future reference
- Take pictures and/or video of the scene at the accident showing injuries and vehicle damage, etc.
- If an insurance company contacts you about the accident, state that the accident is still under investigation and your lawyer will be in touch. Do not accept a settlement without talking to your lawyer.
- Seek advice from an established and experienced personal injury lawyer, preferably one specializing in rideshare accident cases.
Your claim may appear straightforward but few claims are, in truth. Much will hinge on the details of your case and the skills of your personal injury lawyer in negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.
Need help with a claim against Uber or Lyft in Federal Way?
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of an Uber or Lyft driver, contact Park Chenaur for a free initial consultation.
If you can’t make it into our office, we’ll come to you.