For-hire rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, are becoming increasingly popular in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Ridesharing is cheaper than taking a taxi and more convenient because you can simply use an app on your smartphone to request a pickup at any location. At the press of a button, a driver will pick you up in their car and take you where you need to go, usually quickly and easily.

However, this new form of transportation raises several legal questions. What happens if an Uber or Lyft vehicle is involved in an accident? What if someone is hurt during the trip? Who pays for the damage to the vehicle or for the injured person’s medical bills?

Fortunately, Levy Law Offices will answer these questions for you after reviewing your case. We can take on rideshare companies to make sure they meet their obligations to provide you with the compensation you need and deserve.

Are rideshare services safe?

The uncertainty surrounding ridesharing accidents and liability has spurred nationwide discussions about the safety of using Uber or Lyft. Compared to taxi services, which are heavily regulated at the state and local levels, ridesharing services are relatively free of government restrictions.

However, that regulation is growing. In December 2015, Governor John Kasich signed ridesharing insurance legislation which required certain insurance obligations, background checks, and other requirements for the digital platforms and rideshare drivers operating in Ohio.

Do rideshare companies carry liability insurance?

The short answer is, yes. Rideshare companies carry commercial automotive insurance. However, determining the coverage amount and when the policies are active can be complicated.

Uber’s Liability Coverage:

With Uber, if an accident occurs on the way to pick up a customer or while a customer is in the car, Uber’s commercial insurance policy covers up to $1 million in liability coverage per incident, which covers rideshare passengers and others involved in the accident. The policy also covers incidents caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers with up to $1 million in bodily injury liability per case.

If an Uber driver causes an accident while available but in-between trips, the driver’s personal liability insurance will cover those injured. If the driver does not carry adequate insurance, Uber carries another policy of $50,000 bodily injury liability per individual, $100,000 bodily injury liability per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability. While this coverage would not affect passengers, as it only applies when the driver is in-between trips, it may affect other drivers or pedestrians involved in a wreck that an Uber driver caused.

Lyft’s Liability Coverage:

Like Uber, Lyft’s insurance coverage depends on whether or not a customer is riding in the vehicle. When a driver is on duty but has not received a ride request, that driver’s personal insurance provides coverage. However, Lyft provides contingent liability coverage too if the driver’s insurance does not provide coverage. Just like Uber, the policy covers up to $50,000 bodily injury liability per person, $100,000 bodily injury liability per accident, and $25,000 for property damage liability.

Once the driver accepts a ride request, Lyft’s primary insurance is active. From the time the driver accepts the ride until the ride is completed, Lyft’s insurance provides up to $1 million liability coverage per accident. Lyft also provides uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury of up to $1 million.

Are Uber and Lyft drivers personally liable for accidents?

Generally, if an employee causes a traffic accident while performing work duties, the employer is usually vicariously liable to those the employee injured. Uber and Lyft work a bit differently.

As noted above, rideshare drivers are personally liable for accidents they cause while they are available, but are not yet on the way to pick up a rider. The driver’s personal liability insurance is generally the primary means of coverage for those injured.

Not all personal automotive policies provide coverage while driving for professional services like Uber or Lyft. Some insurance policies may even expressly forbid “driving for hire.” While more and more insurance companies now provide unique auto policy add-ons specifically tailored for drivers of ridesharing services, Uber and Lyft both provide coverage to those injured by their rideshare drivers during this period-this is the $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 policy discussed above.

Whatever the case with the driver’s personal liability insurance, liability changes when the driver matches with a ride and is on the way to pick up a passenger and after picking up a passenger. In that case, it is the rideshare company-Uber or Lyft-that is generally liable for persons injured by the rideshare driver. The driver may not be personally liable in these cases.

What should I do if I am injured in a car accident while in an Uber or Lyft vehicle?

If you were injured in a rideshare car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

If you need immediate medical attention, seek emergency care or go to the emergency room. If you do not require emergency care, see a doctor as soon as possible. If you are able, call the police and file an accident report. While you are waiting, take photographs of the accident with your cell phone, if possible. Be sure to speak with the other people involved in the accident including the drivers of all vehicles involved, passengers, and any witnesses. Collect contact and insurance information.

As accident lawyers in Cincinnati, Ohio, Levy Law Offices can help you acquire things like driving records and employment records for drivers if necessary. Ridesharing is relatively new and government regulations covering these services are still somewhat untested, so it can be complicated to know who is responsible for your damages. We are standing by to assist you with your Uber or Lyft accident. Contact us today.