What you Need to Know if Injured While in an Uber Car

By now, we are sure everyone has heard of Uber and Lyft.  These are ride-share companies that offer taxi services with convenience, safety, and lower priced fares.  They are both available to use by a free application you can download on your smartphone.  When downloading the app, you submit your credit or debit card information so you don’t need to pay cash or tip following the ride.  Using the app also allows for the ride-share driver to pinpoint your pick-up location easily.  For these reasons, using Uber and Lyft have increasingly become more popular in Massachusetts, especially in Boston.  Although they are popular, these companies have been difficult in their handling of accidents that involve their drivers. As a passenger in one of their vehicles, it is important and helpful to know your rights in case you are injured in a car accident

Being injured in a car accident can be stressful and life changing.  This is true whether the injuries from a car crash are minor or severe.  To help you through the process of reporting and pursuing a claim for damages, you should speak with a qualified personal injury attorney.  Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has years of experience and specialized knowledge of insurance policies and complex coverage involved in car accidents in general and with rideshare vehicles, such as Uber and Lyft.  This allows us to successfully recover maximum compensation for accident victims.

Injured in a Car Accident While in an Uber Car

If you use Uber or one of the other ride-share companies and are involved and injured in a car accident, the same principles of a general auto accident claim apply.  These are: liability and damages.

If you are a passenger or rider in an Uber vehicle and another driver negligently crashes into your Uber vehicle and you are injured, the other negligent driver can be held liable for the damages, or injuries, they caused.  This means that the other driver’s insurance company would be responsible to financially compensate the injured party for the damages they sustained.  Damages include out of pocket medical bills and expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

What if my Uber Driver Caused the Accident?

As a passenger of an Uber car, insurance coverage gets complicated.  If an Uber driver is responsible for causing the car accident that injured a passenger, the passenger can file a claim against the driver for the damages or injuries suffered in the accident.  Pursuing financial compensation for injuries in this type of situation can be difficult. Here’s why: In Massachusetts, all vehicles are required by law to carry bodily injury coverage of at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident.  There are options, however, to purchase additional bodily injury coverage over these compulsory limits.  While an Uber driver may have the compulsory limits required by Massachusetts law or greater optional coverage, insurance companies have denied claims for injuries caused by the Uber driver because the driver never informed the insurance company that they were using their vehicle for rideshare.  Because the driver was receiving profit, and working, at the time of the accident, insurance companies sometimes use this to deny the claim. 

Likewise, there have been previous situations and cases where Uber has denied liability for cases involving their drivers. Since Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors, instead of employees, Uber and other ride-share companies have argued that they are not technically responsible, or liable, for their driver’s negligent actions.  The denial of injury claims and the number of lawsuits filed in these situations caused regulators and lawmakers to respond with certain law changes that affect liability coverage for ride-share companies.  Both Uber and Lyft have now employed specific guidelines to guarantee protection to their passengers. 

How am I Protected as an Uber Passenger?

Uber, Lyft, and similar companies have implemented the use of commercial insurance policies with greater than normal coverage.  For example, according to Uber’s website, when a rider is on a trip, liability to third parties is covered by Uber’s $1 Million insurance policy. This covers each and every incident that occurs between accepting a trip and reaching the rider’s destination. Uber’s commercial insurance policy takes priority to the driver’s personal auto insurance and is available to cover their drivers’ liability to passengers. Additionally, Uber’s commercial insurance affords riders up to $1 Million of Uninsured or Underinsured coverage for injuries to riders in the event the other driver causes the accident, but doesn’t carry adequate insurance.

You Should Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

As previously stated, car crashes involving an Uber or Lyft car automatically increase the complication involved in an injury claim.  Uber and Lyft reserve the right to deny a claim, and they definitely do exercise this right.  In fact, in a 2014 case Uber denied coverage on a wrongful death case.  In that case a 6–year-old girl was struck and killed in a crosswalk by an Uber driver on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco, CA. The family of the little girl filed a lawsuit against both the Uber driver individually and the company Uber. While the case ultimately settled, it is just an example of how certain claims can be denied. This is why it is very important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer if you are injured in any car accident, even one involving an Uber car.

If you, or someone you know, was injured as a passenger of an Uber or Lyft vehicle, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney.  We have experience with Uber and Lyft accidents and can assist you with your claim and pursuit of compensation for your injuries.  If you have any questions, or want to schedule a free consultation, please contact us or call us at (508) 879-3500.  We are happy to speak with you.