Uber and Lyft

Rideshare made its first appearance on New York streets in late June 2017. The two authorized rideshare companies operating in New York City (NYC) are Uber and Lyft. (1)

Rideshare is similar to taxi services and provides passenger transportation for a fee. However, rideshare uses phone apps and networks to connect passengers and drivers. Rideshare services are prearranged, while taxis can be hailed on the street.

Increasing Rideshare Fatalities

Like a taxi, using rideshare comes with accident risks. In fact, since rideshare first emerged as a viable public transportation option in 2011, there has been an “increase of 2-3% in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents.” (2)

Uber tracks crashes that involve its vehicles and drivers. The company disclosed that there were 97 crashes with 107 total deaths during 2017 and 2018. “Approximately 90% of Uber-related fatal crashes occurred in urban areas.” (3)

Rideshare accidents can result in serious injuries to passengers, and often it requires legal action to secure full compensation. Your key to obtaining that compensation is pinpointing the cause of the accident.

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Causes of Rideshare Accidents

Various factors contribute to rideshare accidents. Most often, the primary factor leading to a rideshare accident is driver error.

Drivers can contribute to rideshare accidents in these ways: (4) (5)

  • Distracted driving.
  • Failure to obey traffic signals, signs, or rules of the road.
  • Failure to observe road conditions.
  • Inexperience.
  • Speeding.
  • Being unqualified for the service.

No matter what leads to an accident, the injuries you suffer can be serious and your recovery times may be lengthy.

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Rideshare Accident Injuries

Injuries from rideshare accidents can range from minor to critical. Serious potential injuries include:

  • Broken bones.
  • Contusions.
  • Death.
  • Internal organ injuries.
  • Traumatic brain injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries.

If you have suffered serious injuries due to a rideshare accident, you need to understand how insurance companies cover the drivers and their vehicles. This understanding is very important to receiving any deserved financial compensation for your injuries.

Rideshare Insurance

Rideshare insurance is different from the commercial insurance coverage taxi companies are required to carry.

Key to this difference is that taxi drivers are employed by taxi companies carrying standard commercial coverage on their vehicles. Also, taxi drivers are required to have commercial driver licenses. (6)

Rideshare drivers, on the other hand, operate more or less independently. They may or may not have commercial licenses and are only required to carry standard personal insurance. (7)

When a rideshare driver is driving a passenger for a transportation network company (TNC) — commonly known as a rideshare company, such as Uber or Lyft — the vehicle is covered by the insurance policy carried by the TNC. (8) (9)

Yet, rideshare drivers also may carry passengers while off a TNC. In such cases, the TNC’s insurance does not extend coverage for that ride. (10)

Insurance Gap

Additionally there are times when an “insurance gap” period occurs where the rideshare vehicle is not covered by TNC insurance or by standard personal insurance. This can happen when a driver has their app on and is logged into the TNC’s network while awaiting a passenger. (11)

In such cases, the personal insurance company interprets the situation as a driver working for the TNC. However, the TNC insurance company views the driver and vehicle as not covered because there is no passenger, and the driver is not on the way to pick up a passenger. Situations like this may require an attorney to resolve.

Some rideshare drivers do carry insurance policies with “rideshare coverage” added on to the policy. However, it is not required. (12)

New York Rideshare Law

New York law requires TNCs operating to carry TNC liability insurance. This provides coverage while a rideshare driver is driving a passenger. The vehicle liability insurance must be $1,250,000 per occurrence. (13)

Insurance is a vital concern in any legal action you may wish to take if you have suffered serious injuries in a rideshare accident. An attorney with experience in rideshare cases can help you evaluate your legal options.

Legal Options with Rideshare

Rideshare accidents are made more complex due to the nature of insurance coverage. Rideshare drivers are not employees of companies. They are considered to be independent contractors.

For example, imagine an accident where the rideshare driver is at fault. If that driver has a commercial or personal auto insurance policy covering ridesharing, their coverage applies for your injuries.

However, most do not have commercial policies. They may even have a business-use exception clause on their personal insurance policy. That means damages for injuries while the driver is working are not covered.

Uber and Lyft both carry third party liability insurance that may cover your injuries.

If another vehicle is involved in the accident, and the other driver (not the rideshare driver) was at fault for your injuries, you may be able to recover damages from their insurance.

What to Do if You Are in a Rideshare Accident

Here are some steps you should take after a rideshare accident:

  • Seek medical attention for yourself and others. Records from an emergency room can document your injuries.
  • Collect evidence: witness and driver contact information, photos, etc.
  • Assess who is at fault. A copy of the police accident report helps determine this.
  • Contact an attorney who has experience in this area.

How W&L Can Help

The complexity of insurance when it comes to rideshare accidents means you need an attorney who is experienced in handling these cases and winning for clients.

Weitz & Luxenberg is proud of our success record. For more than 30 years, our firm has helped clients gain the just compensation they were due.

Here are two of our successful accident cases: