Uber and Lyft Liability for Rideshare Accidents

Uber and Lyft Liability for Rideshare Accidents

People who order rideshare service drivers from apps like Uber or Lyft can experience car accidents that cause significant injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, and back and neck injuries. Much like other types of automobile accidents, negligent drivers who cause car accidents can be held liable for damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life.

However, holding a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft accountable for damages can be much more difficult. Uber or Lyft drivers are not considered employees of the respective companies; they are freelancers who use the apps as a marketplace to earn money from rides. For this reason, rideshare companies do not share vicarious liability for the negligence of their drivers. However, Uber and Lyft have insurance policies that injured riders can take advantage of to receive some compensation for damages.

How Often Do Uber and Lyft Rideshare Accidents Occur?

Rideshare services allow people to order a driver to pick them up and drop them off at a certain location for a fee based on how many miles the trip takes and how long it should take. Uber and Lyft are the preeminent rideshare services that allow people to order rides. 

The advent of rideshare services has affected traffic accidents. According to a study from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, ridesharing apps contributed to a 3% increase in traffic fatalities between 2010 and 2016.

These ridesharing services have led to more drivers on the road, particularly in larger cities that saw an increase in car registration after Uber and Lyft were founded. Drivers for these rideshare services have to use their phones to start rides and use the GPS for directions to locations they may not be familiar with. This use of phones by rideshare drivers can lead to distracted driving that causes car accidents.

Uber and Lyft Rideshare Drivers Can Be Held Liable for Negligent Driving Behavior

The increase in car accidents and traffic fatalities due to rideshare services means some riders will suffer severe injuries and damages from rideshare accidents. The likeliest scenario for a rideshare accident is either the rider’s driver or a driver of another car commits negligent driving behavior that causes the accident.

Negligent driving behavior can include distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, or drowsy driving. Motorists who exhibit this behavior breach the duty of care they owe other drivers and can cause a car accident through reckless driving.

Riders can attempt to hold the Uber or Lyft driver accountable for damages if they cause the accident through negligent driving. You could file a rideshare accident claim with their insurance company to pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages.

Can Rideshare Accident Victims Hold Uber or Lyft Accountable for Damages?

Many rideshare accident victims may assume that Uber or Lyft can share vicarious liability for damages caused by one of their drivers, like a trucking company for their truck drivers who cause accidents. However, Uber and Lyft do not employ drivers. 

Their apps are marketplaces for freelance drivers who can take driving jobs, but they do not classify as Uber or Lyft employees. For this reason, Uber and Lyft can avoid direct responsibility for the wrongful actions of drivers using their platforms.

While it’s unlikely for Uber or Lyft to share liability in a rideshare accident, you could contact a rideshare accident lawyer to see whether they think it could be possible. Rideshare accident litigation is still changing, so situations could arise where Uber or Lyft could share liability. An experienced rideshare accident lawyer will help explain your situation and who the liable party could be for your Uber or Lyft accident claim.

Uber and Lyft Provide Insurance Benefits to Riders Involved in Accidents

While rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft will likely not share liability in a personal injury claim, they provide passengers with maximum insurance benefits. These rideshare companies can provide up to $1 million in liability coverage for damages caused by a rideshare accident. This insurance policy comes into effect when the driver picks up the passenger and begins the ride. 

Following a rideshare accident, a victim can begin recovering compensation for damages by filing a report with the rideshare company. When presenting the details of the accident, the victim should use their words carefully to ensure they do not say anything that can affect their ability to recover compensation.

After reporting the rideshare accident, the victim can file a claim with the insurance company representing the rideshare company. They will likely send an insurance adjuster to investigate the accident and determine if the victim is eligible for compensation for accident-related damages. Uber and Lyft accident victims should answer their questions truthfully and never admit fault to keep themselves in a position to recover compensation for damages.

Does Uber or Lyft Insurance Cover Drivers?

Uber or Lyft drivers can also use this insurance coverage to recover compensation for damages caused by a rideshare accident. If the driver is transporting a rider and the app is turned on, the insurance can cover costs incurred by the accident, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages.

When the app is turned on, insurance coverage includes $50,000 for bodily injury per person, $100,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This coverage increases to $300,000 when the driver has accepted a ride and has a rider in their car.

However, insurance does not cover drivers unless they have a rider in the car with the app turned on. Without the app turned on, the rideshare company assumes the driver is not working for them, meaning their insurance coverage does not apply. An Uber or Lyft driver involved in an accident without their app on will have to fall back on their own car insurance to recover compensation for damages. 

Contact an Experienced Rideshare Accident Lawyer for Help With Your Uber or Lyft Accident Claim

Rideshare accidents can be complicated and Uber and Lyft accident claimants without legal experience may not understand who can share liability and the process for recovering compensatory damages. If you were involved in a rideshare accident, you should seek the advice of an experienced Uber and Lyft accident lawyer.

Your Uber and Lyft accident lawyer can walk you through the process for filing a personal injury claim with the at-fault party or an insurance claim with Uber or Lyft. They can explain which can help you recover the most compensation for your damages and advise you on the best steps to take following your accident. Contact a local Lyft accident lawyer or Uber accident lawyer today to determine your options for recovering fair compensatory damages caused by your injuries.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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