Some people thought that rideshare apps would never catch on, but they were wrong. Rideshare apps did catch on, and a significant number of our roads are teaming with Uber and Lyft vehicles at any given time. So now that the vast majority of the population has embraced the convenience offered by rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, what happens when you’re in a Texas car accident with one of them?
A recent Pew Research Center study indicated that 36% of adults say they have used a rideshare service. This number is up from 15% of Americans who claimed to have used rideshare services in 2015. The immense popularity of both Uber and Lyft (and other similar services) is obvious in almost any city in the U.S. You simply have to be out on the road, and you’ll notice the stickers identifying the vehicles. Yet many rideshare passengers/drivers have given no thought to the liability and insurance issues that come with this particular modern convenience.
Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft offer rides to customers through a network of freelance drivers using their personal vehicles to transport paying customers. Customers request a ride through an app on their smartphone. When the rideshare driver arrives, they pick up the customer, drive them to their destination, drops them off, and then the customer’s stored credit card is automatically charged by the app.
Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are convenient. They often cost less than a traditional taxicab. And depending on location, time, and other situational details, they may cost less than driving your own car. However, some are concerned about how the rideshare services operate as well as how thorough the screening process is for their network of freelance drivers. Some believe that rideshare drivers may be making Texas roads more dangerous. Just before the launch of significant rideshare companies, Lyft and Uber, fatal car accidents were at a record low. Researchers at the University of Chicago are associating the 2-3% increase in fatal accidents to the introduction of ridesharing.
After a rideshare car accident, remember that liability is determined by who is at fault for the accident. Whether you are a passenger in the rideshare vehicle or the driver of another car involved in the collision, liability will hinge on proving fault. When a car accident involves a rideshare vehicle, determining fault is the same as in any other car accident. What makes the process different when a rideshare vehicle is involved? The change becomes evident in how the insurance company responds.
Most Uber or Lyft drivers carry their own car insurance. In this case, if you are involved in a car accident, you can make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy for reimbursement of medical expenses and damages, but personal auto insurance policies include a “business-use” exclusion, so coverage doesn’t apply when a driver is using the car for business purposes. What does this mean for you if you are in an accident with a rideshare vehicle? The “business-use” exclusion means that as soon as a rideshare driver picks up a passenger (and until they drop them off), their personal auto insurance policy does not cover their vehicle since it’s being used for business purposes. So, what happens if you are in a car accident with a rideshare vehicle while they have a passenger?
Since the Uber or Lyft driver’s personal auto insurance policy does not cover their vehicle while it is being used for “business purposes,” rideshare companies provide $1 million liability coverage for their drivers dependent on the situation at the time of the incident. If the rideshare driver is not logged in to the rideshare app, no coverage is provided by the rideshare company. If the driver is logged into the rideshare app, but has not accepted a ride request, the rideshare company provides liability coverage up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident if the rideshare driver is at fault. If the driver has accepted a ride request and is on their way to the pick-up location, the coverage increases to the full $1 million. If the customer is actually in the rideshare vehicle at the time of the accident or incident, the total $1 million liability coverage applies, as well as limited coverage any damage to the rideshare driver’s vehicle and a standard uninsured motorist coverage.
If you are involved in a rideshare car accident, and you need to file a Texas personal injury claim for your injuries, don’t wait! Get in touch with Carrollton’s Hudson Law Firm immediately. We put Personal back into Personal Injury Law.