It’s easy to forget that driving is an inherently dangerous activity, especially when you’re in the back seat of an Uber® or Lyft® vehicle, letting someone else get you where you’re going. But rideshare vehicles get into accidents too, and when you’re injured as an Uber® or Lyft® passenger, there are steps you can take to ensure your safety and protect your legal options.
If you or anyone else has a significant injury, call 9-1-1. Getting proper medical attention is critical not just for your health, but for any legal action you decide to take later on. Learn why it's so important to get medical treatment after a rideshare passenger injury.
If there are no serious injuries, call your local law enforcement's non-emergency number and ask that an officer be dispatched to the accident scene so that a police report can be generated. This is not only a prudent thing to do, but state law might require it.
If you are able, collect as much information about the accident as possible. This means getting the contact and insurance information of all drivers involved. It also means taking pictures of your injuries, vehicle damage, skid marks, vehicle debris, and anything else that directly relates to the accident. If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information, too. Get tips on gathering evidence after a vehicle accident.
Next, contact your rideshare company to report the accident. Uber® and Lyft® have special channels for customers to report any accident. And if you sustained serious injuries, contact an attorney. A rideshare passenger injury case will be handled on a contingency fee basis, and the initial consultation with the attorney should be free. It's important to protect your legal rights. At this stage, you don’t know what you don’t know. An attorney will make sure you’re not missing anything.
As with most car accident cases, rideshare passengers will typically obtain compensation from the driver who was responsible for the accident. In most situations, this means the at-fault driver’s car insurance company.
If someone other than your rideshare driver caused the accident, you’ll need to file a claim with that driver’s car insurance company. If they have adequate insurance, they will have third party liability coverage to compensate you for your injuries and other losses.
There may be situations where the other responsible driver does not have car insurance, or has car insurance, but not enough to fully compensate you for your injuries. In this situation, rideshare companies like Lyft® and Uber® have uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage as a part of the supplemental policies for their drivers.
If your driver caused the accident, then you’ll seek recovery from either your driver’s car insurance policy or the policy provided by the rideshare company. In addition to UM/UIM coverage, both Uber® and Lyft® offer liability insurance coverage to compensate passengers if the rideshare driver doesn’t have applicable car insurance.
Get details on whose insurance applies after an Uber® or Lyft® accident.
There may be a rare situation where your rideshare driver is at fault for the accident and neither the driver nor the rideshare company’s car insurance company will compensate you for your injuries. Maybe the driver and the rideshare company deny any fault in the accident. Or perhaps your injuries exceed the policy limits. In these or any similar situation, you may find yourself suing the rideshare company.
There are a few things to mention if you decide to file a lawsuit against Uber® or Lyft®. First, if you are suing the rideshare company, should you also sue your rideshare driver? Possibly, but even if you win your case against the rideshare driver, the driver might not have the assets to satisfy a court judgment against them. So while a theoretical option, it’s not a very practical one.
Second, when suing a rideshare company for passenger injuries, you will likely encounter the legal challenge of proving vicarious liability. This legal theory is common in cases where a plaintiff wants an employer to be liable for the wrongful actions of its employee. The problem in rideshare lawsuits is that Uber® and Lyft® claim that their drivers are not employees, but independent contractors. Under most state laws, a company cannot be liable for the negligence or intentional misconduct of its independent contractors.
Bottom line: In the majority of rideshare accidents, injured passengers should be able to recover for their injuries, but legal issues in these cases are evolving. If you've been injured in an Uber® or Lyft® vehicle, get tips on finding the right lawyer for your rideshare passenger injury case.