What Happens if You Were in a Car Accident with a Rideshare Driver?
Car accidents can be very harrowing experiences. Also, they can be complicated. It can be difficult to figure out what damages, if any, you are entitled to, and how to go about getting those damages. Things become even more complicated if you are involved in a car accident where the driver is a rideshare driver. A rideshare driver is somebody whose job it is to transport a person from one location to another for a fee.
Rideshare services–and those who use them–are on the rise. As a result, the number of car accidents involving rideshare vehicles is increasing. Although many people assume that the recovery of damages would work the same no matter who the person driving is, the reality is that recovery of damages can look different if the driver is a rideshare driver. Read on to learn about what complications you might face and why getting an attorney involved in these sorts of cases is advisable.
What Causes Accidents With Rideshare Drivers?
The reasons for accidents involving rideshare drivers are very similar to those involving cars driven for personal reasons. These include:
- Not giving enough space
- Manufacturer defect
- Poor weather conditions
- Poor road conditions
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
Rideshare Drivers vs. Other Drivers
Rideshare companies contract with drives to provide driving services for consumers. These freelance drivers use their own cars–not company cars–to transport customers. Uber and Lyft are two examples of rideshare services. A consumer logs onto the app on their phone and secures a ride.
Many rideshare drivers are covered by their own personal auto insurance policies. You would file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to be reimbursed for your medical expenses and any other damages that you have sustained.
One thing to keep in mind is that most personal auto insurance policies have something called a “business use exclusion.” What this means is that a driver is not covered if they are in an accident if they were using the vehicle for business purposes at the time. If the driver is using their personal vehicle to do a personal task (for example, running to the grocery store), and there is an accident, they would be covered. However, if they pick up someone to drive to the grocery store and get paid for that, the rideshare driver would not have liability or collision insurance under their personal auto insurance policy.
Because rideshare drivers are independent contractors, rideshare companies will not be responsible for the rideshare drivers’ actions. If you are injured by an Uber driver, you will not be filing a claim against Uber–you will have to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
Now, you may be thinking that this is not really a big deal. But, in reality, it can mean a lot in terms of your recovery. Simply because a court awards you money against a rideshare driver does not mean that you will successfully recover any damages. If the rideshare driver does not have money, then you will have an uphill battle trying to recover future earnings. Given that rideshare drivers are often driving to supplement income, there is no guarantee you’ll get money.
Although both Uber and Lyft, the two most popular rideshare services, purport to offer $1 million in liability coverage, there is no guarantee you will get this. This depends on whether a driver is logged into the app, has accepted a trip, or has a passenger in the car.
What Can I Do If I Am Involved In a Rideshare Accident?
Much of the process that you do after being involved in an accident with a rideshare driver is identical to what you do if you are involved in an accident with any other driver.
- Get Medical Attention. Do not make the mistake that your injuries are not serious. Oftentimes, people involved in accidents are in shock and adrenaline will mask serious issues. Do not hesitate to call an ambulance and get medical attention immediately. If you do not get an ambulance, see a doctor as soon as you can. Internal injuries or whiplash routinely do not appear until hours after an accident has occurred.
- Call the Authorities. Get the police to the scene of the accident as soon as possible. The officer will make a police report, which has information about the conditions surrounding the accident and a summary of what has happened. If you file a lawsuit down the road, this is very important to have.
- Exchange information. You want the following information from the rideshare driver:
- License plate number
- Vehicle registration
- Insurance information
- Driver’s contact information
- Driver’s first and last name
- Get Witness Testimony. If someone witnessed the accident, you will want to get their testimony as soon as possible. This way, the testimony is fresh, and you do not have to attempt to track them down later. Get their contact information for any follow-up questions.
- Take pictures. Collect all evidence. If you have your phone handy, this is very easy to do. Get as many photos as possible. Take pictures of the road, the location of the accident, the vehicles–even the decal showing it was a rideshare that is displayed in the rideshare vehicle.
- Contact your insurance company. Let your insurance company know about the accident as soon as possible. They will take over and follow up with the rideshare driver’s insurance company and start the claims process.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
There are no “regular” car accidents. Each of these personal injury cases has nuances that skilled attorneys can help you navigate. Car accidents involving rideshare drivers are that much more complicated. Attorneys can help you determine liability, figure out which damages you might recover, and assist you in the collection of those damages. Additionally, attorneys can work with insurance companies who might offer to settle with you and ensure that you are getting the best deal.