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What To Do In An Accident With Uber or Lyft

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Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft provide an easy to use alternative to taxi services and offer convenience when booking a ride. The payment and billing is handled on your phone making it very simple for all. 

However, if you're involved in an accident with one of these ride sharing groups, what do may not be so simple.    Uber and Lyft drivers are considered to be independent contractors meaning that they function as independent third parties and are not employed by the ride-hailing companies.  While companies may be held liable for the actions of their employees, they are not responsible for injury or damage caused by the negligence of independent contractors.  In the case of Uber and Lyft drivers, they have autonomy on their work schedules, work conditions, and use their private vehicles to do their job, meaning that they can work independently without much input from the company. Uber and Lyft only provide their drivers the app that connects them to passengers.

If the negligent party was an Uber or Lyft driver, the most straightforward course of action would be against that person, who would refer the claim to the driver's personal insurance carrier .   But because the driver was driving for money, the situation gets very complicated. Unless the driver has a commercial policy, or has purchased a ride-sharing "endorsement",  the driver's personal policy will not cover the accident. That's because the driver's insurance contract specifies that the driver will use the vehicle only for personal use--and ride sharing isn't personal use. The carrier will deny the claim.

Fortunately for the injured person, Uber and Lyft do offer liability insurance to their drivers, which will kick-in when the driver's carrier denies the claim (drivers must submit the claim first to their own insurance carriers). 

Both Uber and Lyft provide liability coverage for their drivers, and the companies have adopted very similar policies, with coverage that varies depending on when the accident occurs:

Period 0: When the driver is not logged into the Uber/Lyft app, Uber/Lyft provides no coverage
Period 1: When the driver is logged into the app but has not yet accepted a ride request, Uber/Lyft provides liability coverage for any accident that is the fault of the driver, up to $50,000 per person injured in an accident, and $100,000 total injury liability per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability.
Period 2: When the driver has accepted a trip and is on the way to pick-up, liability coverage increases to $1 million.
Period 3: When the rider is in the car, ending at drop-off. Liability coverage of up to $1 million, plus limited coverage for damage to the driver's car, and uninsured motorists' coverage.

Outside to the Uber/Lyft piece of the puzzle, as in any car accident, after making sure everyone is ok, you will want to get the names, contact information, and insurance details of everyone involved, and ask any witnesses for their contact information, too. Next, take as many pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles, and anything else relevant to the accident -- from as many angles as you can -- before you leave the scene.

You should also call the police from the accident scene. In any accident involving an Uber/Lyft driver, you will generally want the accident officially investigated as soon as possible, so that you'll have a police report that you will need to back up your claim..

Uber and Lyft -- and the rideshare-by-app marketplace -- are well-established, but legal issues related to these services are still being worked out in the courts.

If you or a loved one are injured in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, contact our offices for a no cost review of your situation.  We will discuss your accident and make sure you fully understand your options.   For over 40 years we have been helping Wisconsin accident victims get the compensation and justice they deserve.