Steps to Follow After a Rideshare Accident
With the evolution of the rideshare industry becoming the mainstream means of travel for errands and other personal needs around town, the gray area of accident responsibility is now clear. It has been established that a rideshare accident is not like a private car crash claim where passengers are involved. The corporate rideshare companies do bear some liability for their independent drivers, but only in certain circumstances.
This blog will focus on the common scenarios of rideshare accidents, the steps a passenger in either vehicle should take and an explanation of when responsibilities come into effect.
The Common Scenarios of Rideshare Accidents
We can begin with the affirmative statement that Uber, Lyft and other rideshare companies have become vigilant in their surveillance of driver habits. These companies will not keep drivers who routinely exhibit unsafe behaviors or are involved in a certain number of accidents. Unfortunately, though, accidents will happen with cautious and safe drivers.
The common types of accidents involving rideshare drivers come under four categories:
- injured passenger in the rideshare vehicle;
- rideshare driver injured during a pick-up, drop-off or while driving;
- driver of another vehicle injured in an accident with a rideshare driver; and
- passengers in another vehicle injured by a rideshare vehicle when picking up a fare.
The most common cause of accidents occur when rideshare drivers are using their app while driving.
A Passenger in a Rideshare Accident
Whether a passenger of the rideshare vehicle, or the driver or passenger in another vehicle, the post-accident steps are the same as any other car accident. It is important that emergency services be called to the scene even with the lack of serious injury.
As you may know, rideshare companies track their drivers in real time. Even with this knowledge, it remains important that all information be gathered at the scene, if practicable. Like with any car accident, the collected information should be the:
- driver’s first and last name
- all contact information of the driver (including e-mail)
- license number of the vehicle
- registration and insurance information
- contact information for any witnesses (including e-mail)
If possible, other evidence should be gathered from the scene, like photos or videos of street signs, positions of the vehicles before any clearing of the travel lanes, road conditions and lighting.
It is important to know that the first line of defense for both drivers is their respective insurance carriers.
The Liability of the Rideshare Driver
Rideshare drivers are not employees but, under their agreements as independent contractors, the drivers are required to meet certain requirements and maintain their vehicle to a level of standard.
An independent driver must carry their own general liability insurance, but California law does require the rideshare companies to provide additional liability insurance for their drivers.
There are times during a ride when the rideshare driver is covered by their insurance, and then covered by the policy of the rideshare company. California law sets coverage minimums during specific periods of a ride.
These time periods are given and described below.
A rideshare driver is acting as any other driver of a private vehicle when the driver’s app is off. Their driving, and any accidents occurring from it, will be deemed unrelated to the rideshare company. California provides that minimum coverages must be:
- $15,000 bodily injury per person
- $30,000 bodily injury per accident
- $5,000 property damage per accident
These are the minimums for all California drivers.
This period is when the driver’s app in on, but on standby waiting for fares. Should an accident occur during this time, the first line of coverage is the driver’s insurance policy. Both Uber and Lyft provide coverage for their drivers in Period 1 should a claim for damages exceed the limits of the driver’s policy.
The coverages provided by Uber and Lyft during this period are:
- $50,000 bodily injury per person
- $100,000 bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 property damage per accident
Periods 2 and 3
It is in these periods when the driver is paired with a passenger and when the passenger enters the rideshare vehicle, respectively. Periods 2 and 3 trigger the $1 Million in coverage for both the driver and the passenger(s). This coverage covers collision, comprehensive and uninsured/underinsured motorists.
As a passenger in either the rideshare or a private vehicle, the accident should be reported to their insurance company. It is best to let the insurance company determine the liability and make the appropriate claim. Absent egregious behavior by a passenger, there should be no liability for the accident’s cause.
When involved in an accident with a rideshare vehicle, one cannot assume the responsibility of the corporate pockets. The status of a rideshare driver needs to be determined and the fault for the accident needs to be determined between the drivers.
A rideshare accident claim can very easily become complicated and layered.