There are literally millions of rideshare drivers operating in the United States, and estimates project these numbers are bound to grow. Along with the increase of Uber and Lyft drivers comes an increase in crashes involving rideshares. In fact, New York City has gone so far as to recently announce a one-year cap on allowing new rideshare drivers in the city.
In many ways, Uber and Lyft crashes are very similar to any other car accident. However, there are a few unique differences that people should understand.
If you’ve been hurt in an Uber or Lyft accident, contact the dedicated New York City car accident lawyers at Belluck & Fox to discuss your right to compensation. A consultation is free. We do not charge any fees to begin work on an Uber or Lyft accident claim, and you don’t owe us anything unless we recover money for you.
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Who Is Responsible If You Get in an Accident Involving an Uber or Lyft?
When vehicles collide, there is almost always someone to blame. Uber and Lyft accidents are no different. Depending on who caused the accident, the insurance coverage available, and what role you play in the crash, you may have a variety of possible options for pursuing compensation for injuries.
To better understand these options, it’s important to consider whether you were a driver, a passenger, a pedestrian, etc. Consider these scenarios:
- An Uber or Lyft driver hit me. Whether you were a pedestrian, a driver of another vehicle, or a passenger in another vehicle, if a rideshare driver who was online or on a trip is at fault in causing the accident and you suffered serious injuries from the collision, then you will file a claim against the insurance policy carried by Uber or Lyft.
- I was a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle. If you were hurt on a ride, you may have a couple of options. If the Uber or Lyft driver is responsible for the collision, you will likely need to file your claim with Uber or Lyft. If the other driver was responsible, then your claim will be filed against that driver’s insurance policy.
- I’m an Uber or Lyft driver, and someone else hit me. If you are on the job, driving for Uber or Lyft, and you are injured in a collision, you may have a potential claim against the at-fault driver. However, both rideshare companies also offer rider injury protection policies to assist with the cost of medical care and short-term disabilities. Where available, these policies may even cover you if you are to blame for the crash.
No matter the circumstances of your accident, you need to speak with a knowledgeable New York auto accident attorney about how to file a claim and what types of compensation you may be entitled to receive.
New York’s No-Fault Insurance Rules
Although you may have various claims for injuries that you can bring against at-fault parties, it’s important to remember that New York is a “no-fault” insurance state. This means that if you drive or own a vehicle in the state, you must carry at least $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.
PIP coverage is designed to pay for your reasonable and necessary medical expenses, lost earnings and other basic economic losses, regardless of who is at fault in the collision. You cannot file suit against the at-fault party unless you can prove that you suffered a serious injury. (This does not apply to motorcyclists and pedestrians.)
Still, proving the seriousness of an injury can be tricky, which is why it’s important to hire an attorney early in your case.
How Does Insurance Work for Uber Drivers?
Uber and Lyft both have a liability insurance coverage that is designed to pay for injuries caused by their drivers. However, that coverage only applies when the driver is on the clock (either waiting for ride requests through the app or giving a ride). Therefore, rideshare drivers will have two insurance policies: one that covers them while on the clock and one that covers them when using the vehicle off the clock.
Effective 2018, when an Uber driver is online through Uber’s app, waiting for requests, he or she is covered by Uber’s liability insurance. This provides:
- Up to $75,000 per person in bodily injury insurance
- $150,000 per accident in bodily injury insurance
- $25,000 per accident in property damage
Uber’s policy also covers personal injury protection (PIP) up to $50,000 per person, plus $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, when a driver is online but not on a trip.
Once the Uber driver responds to a request and is on a trip, a separate policy kicks in. This insurance is provided through a third-party company and offers:
- $1.25 million in liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage
- $1.25 million in SUM uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
- $50,000 per injured person in PIP
It also covers collision and comprehensive damages. This coverage continues for the duration of the ride.
In New York City, rideshares are regulated by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. This commission requires commercial insurance policies for each individual vehicle.
Like any other New York car accident case, however, keep in mind that you must still generally exhaust the requirements of the no-fault law. Otherwise, your compensation will come from your own insurance policy.
When “Off Duty” Is Unclear
In most situations, it’s clear whether the driver was on the job or not. However, some situations are a bit more complicated. For instance, an Uber or Lyft driver may be “available for rides,” according to the app, yet pulling into a dry cleaner to pick up something personal. While yes, the driver is technically on the job, the company may argue that the accident should be covered under the driver’s own insurance policy.
It is usually best to carefully discuss your accident with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine how to present your case and under which policy it should be filed.
What Should You Do If You’re Hit by an Uber or Lyft Driver?
If you are involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, there are a few important steps you should take:
- Report the accident. Under New York’s no-fault law, you must report your accident and injuries to your insurance company within 30 days, or you lose your right to compensation through your own personal injury protection. Make sure you comply with this requirement. Next, make sure that you report the accident to the authorities immediately. Do not try to be “nice” to others by deciding not to call the police. Just call. Get police and emergency medical services to the scene so that the accident can be properly and officially documented, even if you don’t think anyone is hurt. Some injuries may take weeks to show up.
- Take photos. If you can, take photos of everything you can think of. If you are too badly injured, ask a friend or family member (if someone else is with you). Obviously, you should not endanger yourself to take pictures, but if you are able, try to photograph the vehicles involved, the scene, signs, landmarks, or other items that may help prove liability.
- Seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think you have serious injuries, make sure you go to the hospital and get checked out. Many people report feeling a little “numb” or “in shock” after a crash. Sometimes they report headaches or a little dizziness. These can be nothing more than natural physiological responses to trauma. But they can also be serious signs of catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, concussions, or spinal injuries. Don’t take chances; get medical care as soon as possible.
- Do not give a recorded statement to anyone. Insurance companies love to say you are “required” to give a statement in order to be compensated. It’s true that most insurance policies require you to cooperate with your own insurance carrier, but this does not mean you should do so without a lawyer. It also does not mean you have to speak with someone else’s insurance company.
- Do not sign or accept payment from an insurance company. Insurance adjusters are trained to get you to settle fast and settle low. They will often say that they can get you paid quicker if you sign a few forms. These usually give the insurance company full access to your medical records, and often they will even try to get you to “release” them and their driver from liability. If you sign these forms, you may very well be signing away your case.
- Tell them you will have your attorney call to discuss further. If an insurance company calls and wants to speak with you, first determine whether it is your own insurance company or someone else’s. Next, get the person’s name, direct phone number, and any other identifying information they will provide. Kindly explain that under the circumstances, you’d feel more comfortable having your attorney discuss the matter before continuing the call. Politely hang up and contact an experienced NYC car accident lawyer.
Our New York Auto Accident Lawyers Can Help After an Uber Accident
At Belluck & Fox our NY auto accident attorneys focus on representing those who are seriously or catastrophically injured. We work hard to fight for the compensation our clients deserve, and we have the skill and the resources to take on even the most complex cases. To get started, contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.