Uber or Lyft Car Accident
Whether you’re the driver, the passenger, or the other motor vehicle involved in an accident with a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft, there are certain things that are very important to the insurance and claims process. As the industry is still in its infancy, the insurance companies are trying to keep up to make sure that their policies involve some kind of ridesharing agreement for inclusion or exclusion of coverage.
Due to this, it is essential work with an attorney or law firm experienced in handling claims and cases against Lyft and Uber. At Paternoster Law Group, we have successfully won numerous Uber and Lyft cases with very impressive results. The insurance companies are well aware of our reputation for aggressively handling Uber car accident and Lyft injury claims.[Click here if you’ve ever wondered the difference between Uber and Lyft?]
What Is a Rideshare Company?
Rideshare companies (also known as Transportation Network Companies or Peer-to-peer ridesharing) provide ordinary people the ability to use their own cars as their business, which would be to provide taxi-like services to people throughout the Las Vegas area, or anywhere the rideshare company operates. This service is provided through an app on their phone (both driver and passenger) that is convenient and often inexpensive. Simply pull out your phone, request a ride, and within minutes you’re on your way.
Once you arrive at your destination, simply get out and move on with your day. The apps handle the payment, tracking, directions, and everything else. They are very convenient and easy to use. There are, however, some concerns about how these services operate, if and how they perform background checks on their drivers, and how they protect the passengers information if there’s an accident.
What Qualifies As a Rideshare Company?
The emerging norm for these carpool companies involves three elements:
- a smartphone to request a ride, set a pickup and drop-off location, etc.
- the use of GPS for the driver to navigate and for the company application to track the route and calculate a cost
- and a way for riders to rate their drivers so that other can know what to expect
How Does Uber or Lyft Screen Their Drivers?
Before a person can drive for Uber or Lyft, there are background checks and driving record checks for things like a safe driving record and serious criminal charges. The potential driver must provide the rideshare company with their name, date of birth, Social Security number, driver’s license number, a copy of their driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance, and proof of a completed vehicle inspection. The rideshare companies then use a third-party to run a background check.
Uber, for example, uses a company called Checkr, which is nationally accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. The third-party then runs the name against the national sex offender database, against public records databases, and of course against driver records.
As comprehensive as the process is, it is not 100% accurate and many drivers get through even when they shouldn’t. This is either through oversight of certain records or fraudulent identity. Some states, like California, even have laws that prevent companies like Checkr from going back more than seven years for public records. Uber and Lyft have also been criticized for not using a screening process the requires fingerprints, which are then run through databases like the FBI’s.
Taxi drivers, a much more regulated industry which has governmental departments to handle the oversight of its drivers, however, are required to go through all these background checks, in addition to fingerprint scanning.
Can I Lose My Uber Access If I Make a Claim?
One of the biggest concerns people have after getting into an accident while in an Uber or Lyft is being worried that they will get kicked off the platform if they make a claim. Many people rely on Uber and Lyft for transportation to work, school, or anywhere else. Many Uber and Lyft drivers won’t file claims because they are worried they won’t be able to work for the companies as a driver if they do. You should know that if you bring a valid injury claim under the insurance policy from Uber or Lyft, you will not be penalized.
Both Uber and Lyft pay a portion of each fare directly to their insurance companies for this exact reason. Thus, pursuing a claim and retaining an Uber lawyer such as Glenn Paternoster of the Paternoster Law Group will not cause you to be penalized.
Are Uber or Lyft Cars Registered as Commercial Vehicles?
No, drivers participating in commuter apps do not have to register or insure their car as commercial vehicles, but they typically need to get an insurance addendum to drive with a rideshare company. These services provide commercial and taxi-like services that enable passengers to arrange rides on short notice using a smartphone app, however, they are exempt from following the same guidelines, such as mandatory logging of driving hours, minimum rest periods, and vehicle inspection and safety records done regularly.
Ride share companies often argue that rideshare vehicles do not operate like traditional taxis; a single taxi is on the road upwards of 70,000 miles annually, whereas commuter cars are used considerably less. However, some rideshare drivers drive full-time, placing them on the road equally as much as taxi drivers.
Continually, these apps claim that their businesses are just that, “just an app”. They claim to be just a technological start up that is the middle man between a person willing to give someone a ride and a person willing to take that ride. Because of this loophole, Uber or Lyft are not required to operate as a commercialized vehicle for-hire entity .
What Happens in an Accident with Uber or Lyft?
In the past few years, a few bills have been signed into law that have regulated the way companies like Uber and Lyft operate and are insured. While commercial vehicles must be covered through strict policies governed by their state, typically with very high policy minimums, Uber and Lyft drivers are not subject to the same kind of requirement. This was sidestepped due to their modern business model in which they claimed they were just an app the helped people find other people willing to give them a ride.
With mounting pressure due to numerous accidents across the US, Uber and Lyft adopted insurance coverage for drivers that kicks-in once they have accepted and picked up a passenger.
Problem solved? You might think so, but you’d be wrong.
Are Uber or Lyft Required to Carry Insurance?
Signed into law in Colorado’s Senate Bill 125, the Transportation Network Company Act affirms that these companies must provide primary insurance coverage for the entire time a driver’s app is on. Therefore, auto insurers may rightfully deny personal-line policyholder claims arising out of incidents involving rideshare-affiliated vehicles. In effect, rideshare companies must provide primary liability coverage of at least $50,000 per injured person, $100,000 for all injuries in an accident and $30,000 for property damage. With the success of this bill, California soon followed.
What Are Nevada’s Laws Regarding Uber and Lyft?
In 2015, Nevada legislation passed the Assembly Bill AB176, which requires vehicle-for-hire companies to meet minimum insurance standards. The new law requires Uber and Lyft to apply their insurance coverage from the time the driver is logged on to the app until the driver has dropped off their passengers. The required coverage is at least $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 per death and bodily injury per incident, and $25,000 for property damage.
In 2017, further stipulations went into effect:
- A rideshare driver, or the company itself on the driver’s behalf, needs primary automobile insurance that recognizes the driver as a TNC driver and uses the automobile for commercial purposes.
- The required coverage amounts when a driver is transporting a customer is at least $1 million death and primary automobile liability insurance, which meets the minimum requirements of a limousine user.
These minimum requirements are up to date with the coverage rideshare companies have already begun providing their drivers.
The one difference between Uber’s current policy and the requirements outline in the bill is the contingency of coverage when a driver is logged onto Uber’s platform but is not driving a passenger. This bill makes Uber’s policy the primary one if the driver is logged into the app.
Without this piece of legislation, the driver’s personal policy may take effect if the driver says he was logged onto the app but not using it and Uber’s policy would cover losses for what the driver’s personal policy did not .
What if I’m a Passenger in a Uber or Lyft?
It’s important to note that if you’re an injured passenger in the car with the driver, your personal auto policy probably would not provide coverage for an injury in this situation because private-passenger auto insurance policies were never intended to provide coverage for injuries incurred while the vehicle was engaged in a commercial enterprise.
However, the rideshare insurance will, more than likely, cover your injuries.
What should I do if I’m in an accident involving Uber or Lyft?
Auto accidents involving ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft can be confusing and unique because of the laws that regulate such businesses. Under current company policies, drivers are covered as long as they are logged into the app. Likewise, passengers should be covered too. The legal grey area, however, is when someone is on their way to pick up a passenger. In these cases, the victim of a crash will have to go through the driver’s personal insurance before reaching the rideshare company.
In some other cases, injured passengers have to fight against the driver, the driver’s insurance, or even the driver’s contractor (some Uber and Lyft drivers simply work on behalf of a someone who has many cars and “leases” the cars out to them, circumnavigating even more rules and laws) to receive proper compensation. Because Uber and Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors, the question of liability is difficult to understand.
Make sure you never accept a ride from an Uber Or Lyft driver who says they will charge less than the app if you pay cash. Some unscrupulous drivers do not want their cut taken by the rideshare companies and will offer lower fares. You will not be protected at all if you accept that ride, as all insurance will be null and void in that situation.
Call Paternoster Law Group for Help After Your Uber or Lyft Accident
At Paternoster Law Group, we believe that no Las Vegas driver or passenger who was injured in an Uber or Lyft should be penalized or fear the repercussions from these companies without talking to a qualified attorney first. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we know the games insurance companies and rideshare companies play to get out of paying what you deserve.
Don’t fall for their tricks. You deserve every penny of damages the law allows you to collect. Call our team at Paternoster Law Group Personal Injury Lawyers at 702-654-1111 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We are conveniently located in Las Vegas and can schedule meetings in person at our office, wherever you are, or via tele-conference. The sooner you meet with us, the better your chances of preserving your rights to recover the compensation you deserve.