Uber and Lyft Car Accident Injury Lawsuits

If you're injured in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, talk to a lawyer about how to get full compensation for your injuries.

Updated by , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated by Stacy Barrett, Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Ridesharing platforms, like Uber and Lyft, have connected billions of riders with drivers since 2010. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2019, 36% of all adults in the United States have used ridesharing services. Most Uber and Lyft rides are uneventful. But rideshare accidents do happen and people—passengers, drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists—get hurt. Here's an overview of your legal options if you're involved in a rideshare accident.

What Are Uber and Lyft?

Uber and Lyft are alternatives to taxis and other private and public transportation services. The rideshare companies (sometimes called "Transportation Network Companies" or TNCs), connect riders with drivers through mobile apps.

Here is how it works: A rider submits a trip request that is sent to drivers in the area. The driver who accepts the rider's request then picks the rider up and takes the rider to the rider's requested destination. Uber and Lyft drivers use their own vehicles, but the rideshare companies calculate fares and transfer payments to the drivers.

Uber and Lyft require drivers to have personal car insurance policies that meet minimum state coverage requirements, but the companies provide some coverage on behalf of drivers when drivers are using their apps.

Rideshare Lawsuit History

With the rise in popularity of Uber and Lyft, has come a rise in the number of lawsuits filed against the companies.

Rideshare companies have faced class action lawsuits over allegations of improper worker classification (defining drivers as independent contractors and not employees), price fixing, workplace discrimination, and misleading fees.

Uber and Lyft are also facing lawsuits over the actions of their drivers. In December 2019, Uber released its first-ever safety report, revealing that the company received nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault from drivers and passengers in 2017 and 2018. Lyft released its own safety report in October 2021, disclosing that the company received more than 4,000 reports of sexual assaults during rides from 2017 to 2019. Now hundreds of people across the country have filed sexual assault lawsuits against Uber and Lyft.

For many years, Uber and Lyft didn't provide any insurance coverage for their drivers. Then, in 2013, an Uber driver who was looking at the Uber app on his cell phone struck and killed a six-year-old child in San Francisco. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Uber and successfully advocated for lawmakers in California to require Uber to provide some insurance coverage for drivers. Now Uber and Lyft require all drivers to have insurance and provide some insurance coverage of their own when drivers are available and waiting for ride requests, as well as when they are picking up and carrying passengers. (See below for more on rideshare insurance coverage.)

What Should I Do After an Uber or Lyft Accident?

If you're involved in a rideshare accident, check yourself and others for injuries right away. If anyone needs medical attention, call 911 immediately. You'll also want to call the police and collect some information at the scene to support your insurance claim or lawsuit, including:

  • the Uber or Lyft driver's name, license number, and insurance information
  • insurance information for any other person and vehicle involved in the accident
  • names and phone numbers of witnesses
  • the location of any security cameras or doorbell cameras in the area
  • pictures of the accident scene and damage to all vehicles involved
  • pictures of your injuries
  • the location and time of the accident, and
  • a copy of the police report when it's available.

If you were hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, try to find out if the driver was waiting for a ride request, en route to pick up passengers, or carrying passengers at the time of the accident. Uber and Lyft's insurance coverage activates when drivers are using the app and policy limits vary during different phases of rides.

If You're an Injured Passenger

If you're injured as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft, the same basic insurance and liability rules that apply to most passenger injury claims apply to your claim.

Injured passengers need to figure out who might be responsible (liable) for their accident-related losses. Options in an Uber or Lyft accident typically include:

  • the drivers involved in the accident, including the Uber or Lyft driver
  • the owners of all cars involved in the accident if the owners are different from the drivers
  • anyone who contributed to the accident (like a jaywalking pedestrian), and
  • Uber or Lyft.

Rideshare drivers aren't automatically at fault for car accidents. To get compensation from your rideshare driver's insurance company and potentially tap into Uber and Lyft's coverage, you'll have to show that your driver was at least partially at fault for the accident. Your best chance of getting full compensation is to file claims against any person and company who could share liability (legal responsibility) for your losses and let the insurance companies sort out the rest. You might also be able to tap into your own health and car insurance coverage for help covering your bills.

For example, say your Uber driver is driving over the speed limit and crashes into a car pulling out of a parking lot. You aren't sure who is at fault for the accident. To try to get full compensation, you should file a claim against your rideshare driver's personal insurance, your driver's Uber coverage, and the other driver's insurance.

You can use this form to report an accident to Uber. You can use this form to report an accident to Lyft.

If an Uber or Lyft Driver Hit You

If you are a pedestrian or driver hit by a rideshare driver, the same basic insurance and liability rules that apply to other pedestrian and car accident cases apply to your claim.

Your ability to get compensation from Uber or Lyft's insurance coverage depends on who was at fault for the accident and when the accident happened. Was the driver's app on or off? Uber and Lyft's insurance policies kick in only when drivers are on the app and provide the most coverage when drivers are picking up and carrying passengers.

Rideshare Insurance Coverage

As of 2023, rideshare drivers are classified as independent contractors and not Uber or Lyft employees. Independent contractors are typically responsible for their own liability insurance coverage. Uber and Lyft require drivers to maintain their own car insurance. But the companies offer additional insurance for rideshare drivers when drivers are active on their apps.

Rideshare companies typically divide rideshare driving into phases:

  • The app is off. The driver's personal car insurance applies.
  • The app is on, the driver is available for ride requests. Uber and Lyft provide some liability coverage if the driver's personal insurance doesn't apply.
  • The app is on, the driver is picking up or carrying passengers. Uber and Lyft provide liability coverage (up to $1,000,000), uninsured motorist insurance (UMI) for bodily injury, and comprehensive and collision coverage up to the actual cash value of the car in some cases.

Learn more about types of car insurance coverage.

Can I Sue Uber or Lyft for an Accident?

Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as independent contractors and not employees because employees have more rights than independent contractors (like unemployment benefits and access to workers' compensation) and companies are more likely to be held liable for their employee's driving. employee's negligence. (Learn more about when employees and others can be liable for someone else's driving.)

If your insurance claim is denied in whole or in part, you can threaten to sue Uber and Lyft directly, but the companies are likely to use their drivers' status as independent contractors as a shield. They will also likely argue that when you agreed to the terms and conditions of the rideshare service, you forfeited your right to file a lawsuit in court and agreed to resolve any legal dispute with the company through arbitration.

If you decide to sue Uber or Lyft, you should talk to a lawyer. A lawyer will help you figure out if you can sue, who was at fault for the accident, and how much your rideshare injury claim is worth.

How Much is an Uber Accident Settlement Worth?

Like any car accident, it's impossible to predict how much your rideshare injury case is worth. The value of your claim typically depends on many factors, including:

  • the severity of your injuries
  • your prognosis for a full recovery
  • your possible need for future medical care
  • the cost of your medical bills
  • your lost income (past and future), and
  • the pain and suffering (physical and mental) you experience because of the accident.

The likelihood of settlement and the size of your settlement will also depend on who was at fault for the accident and the at-fault party's insurance policy limits.

You'll want to get a full picture of the seriousness of your injuries and keep detailed records of all medical treatment and bills you receive as a result of the accident, lost earnings for accident-related time off of work, transportation costs, increased or new household expenses stemming from the accident, and costs associated with canceled trips or altered plants.

The evidence you gathered at the scene of the accident will help you prove who was at fault for the accident. The records you keep during the aftermath will help you prove your damages.

How Long Do I Have to File an Uber or Lyft Claim?

Each state sets a limit on how much time a person has to file an injury-related lawsuit in court. Different limits (called "statutes of limitation") apply to different kinds of cases. If you miss the deadline to file, you'll almost certainly lose your right to sue and get compensation for your losses.

Most people file insurance claims right after a rideshare accident. If your insurance claim stalls or goes nowhere, you typically have one to three years from the time of your injury to file a lawsuit in most states.

Learn more about filing deadlines for rideshare injury lawsuits.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Uber or Lyft Accident?

Rideshare injury lawsuits are complicated. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the world of insurance claims and adjusters to get you the best outcome for your case. Car accident attorneys:

  • know the law (including fault rules and statutes of limitation)
  • do the legwork (gather medical records, make the calls, write the demand letters), and
  • advocate for you in settlement negotiations, arbitration, or court.

Starting Your Search for an Attorney

You might already know a lawyer, either personally or because the lawyer has represented you before in some legal matter. When you consider hiring a lawyer to work on your Uber or Lyft claim, you might want to hire this person you already know. But the practice of law has become highly specialized, and your tax lawyer, for example, might know very little about personal injury law. So, if the lawyer you know has little to no experience in rideshare injury cases, ask the lawyer to refer you to someone—either in that lawyer's office or elsewhere—who might be a good fit. Lawyers commonly refer cases to one another, and most lawyers have someone in their network who handles plaintiffs' personal injury cases. You can also ask trusted people, like friends and coworkers, for a referral to an attorney.

How Will My Uber Accident Lawyer Get Paid?

You might be emotionally and financially drained after your rideshare car accident. You probably don't have the resources to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars an hour to file an insurance claim or lawsuit.

The good news is that you almost certainly won't have to pay lawyers' fees up-front. Lawyers who handle rideshare accident claims typically take cases on a "contingency fee" basis.

In a contingency fee agreement, you pay your lawyer a percentage (often one-third) of your compensation if you win your case. If you lose, you don't have to pay your lawyer a fee. Win or lose, you might be on the hook for costs and expenses like court filing and expert witness fees. Read your lawyer's fee agreement carefully before you sign it.

Working With a Lawyer on Your Rideshare Accident Case

When you hire a lawyer, you want to make sure you end up with the right person for you and your case. And that expectation can work both ways. Just like you want a good lawyer to fight for you, every lawyer wants a "good client." Here are some tips on working with your lawyer to ensure the best outcome for your lawsuit over injuries suffered in a rideshare vehicle:

  • Be honest with your lawyer about the details surrounding the accident and your diagnosis, treatment, and long-term effects of your injuries.
  • Be responsive to your lawyer—return your lawyer's phone calls, emails, or text messages promptly.
  • Attend all medical appointments.
  • Cooperate in the discovery process, including preparing for your deposition.
  • Communicate about problems related to your case—ask questions, but don't blame your lawyer for obstacles outside your lawyer's control.

For more tips, check out: How to Find the Right Lawyer for Your Case. When you're ready, you can connect with a lawyer directly from this page for free.

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