What happens if you are injured while in an Uber or Lyft?

In recent years, Uber and Lyft ridesharing services have become very popular. Rideshare companies have transformed transportation by providing a fast, easy and often reliable way to get where you are going. But what happens when you are injured while a passenger in a ridesharing service? It can be confusing to determine which insurance company to file a claim with when you are injured in a ridesharing accident.

In most instances, Uber and Lyft both provide insurance coverage. However, making sure that you file the appropriate paperwork with the right insurance company can be an additional stress on top of dealing with the injuries you sustained. Additionally, you may need to file separate claims with three or more insurance companies:

  • the rideshare driver’s own personal insurer;
  • the ridesharing service’s insurer;
  • the insurance company of any other driver who was at fault for causing the accident, and
  • there is also the possibility you will need to file a claim with your own automobile insurance company even though your car was not involved.

The Uber or Lyft driver’s own personal insurance coverage is often the first level of coverage available. Uber and Lyft drivers are required to have auto insurance. However, Uber and Lyft drivers can choose their own private auto insurance coverage limits and in Pennsylvania, the minimum amount of liability coverage a driver is required to have is only $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. As such, an Uber or Lyft driver that causes an accident could potentially only have the minimum required liability coverage, and you will not know this until after you are injured and are seeking compensation for your injuries and economic losses. Both Uber and Lyft companies provide extra coverage for their drivers, but the amount of coverage, if any, depends on when the accident occurs:

When the app is on, but no trip has been accepted.

When the Uber or Lyft driver’s app is on, but no trip has been accepted, both ride-share services offer supplemental insurance that acts as a second layer of insurance over and above the driver’s insurance coverage. The Uber and Lyft supplemental insurance coverage is generally $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. This supplemental coverage could be available if, for example, the Uber driver had the app on but had not accepted a trip and got distracted and struck either a pedestrian or another vehicle. The rideshare driver’s insurance would pay the claim up to the amount of the driver’s policy limits, and if that was insufficient to compensate the injured person then Uber or Lyft’s supplemental insurance could be sought to compensate the injured individual.

When a trip has been accepted and/or the rider is in the vehicle.

After an Uber or Lyft ride has been accepted and the driver is either enroute to pick up the rider or the rider is in the vehicle, the supplemental insurance provided by Uber and Lyft is greatly increased. During that time period, the supplemental insurance is $1 million for liability and $1 million in uninsured/underinsured coverage. The $1 million liability coverage protects anyone injured in the accident due to the rideshare driver’s negligence, whether that is the rideshare passenger; the driver or passenger in another vehicle involved in the accident; or a pedestrian or cyclist.

The $1 million uninsured/underinsured coverage protects the driver of the Uber/Lyft vehicle, and any rideshare passengers in the event that the rideshare vehicle is struck by a hit-and-run driver, a driver who has no insurance or a driver who had insufficient insurance to cover the injuries in the accident.

Assume, for instance, that an Uber passenger is seriously injured or killed in an accident that was caused by another driver who ran a red light and crashed into the Uber vehicle. The driver who caused the crash carried only the Pennsylvania minimum insurance coverage of $15,000.00. The injured rideshare passenger or his estate, if he died, could only collect the $15,000.00 from the responsible driver’s insurance company. Then a claim would be made under the Uber driver’s underinsured coverage on his own policy and then an underinsured claim against the Uber policy could also be asserted. If the rideshare passenger’s injuries were worth more than the coverage available under these policies, then the injured individual or their Estate could make a claim for any underinsured coverage the injured person had on their own personal or household automobile insurance policy. Whether you are injured in a rideshare vehicle or your own vehicle, it is always important to carry sufficient uninsured/underinsured coverage because you cannot assume that other drivers on the roads will have sufficient coverage if you are involved in an accident. We recommend that you have a least $100,000 in stacked uninsured/underinsured coverage and preferably more, if possible.

If you are a rideshare driver who was injured.

If the accident was caused by another driver, and you are the rideshare driver who is injured, then the negligent driver’s automobile insurance should cover your damages. It is important to note that the Uber and Lyft supplemental policies will only cover you if you are logged into the app and generally, they will not pay for damages to your vehicle, so it is important to carry more than enough coverage on your own personal automobile policy.

Pennsylvania has not definitively classified Uber and Lyft drivers as employees. However, many nearby states, including New Jersey and New York, have found Uber and Lyft drivers to be employees. If Pennsylvania was to classify Uber and Lyft drivers as employees, then a claim for worker’s compensation benefits could be made by the rideshare driver if they were injured in an accident while driving for Uber or Lyft.

What to do after a rideshare accident.

Immediately following the accident, both you and the driver should report the accident to the rideshare company using the app. It is also important to call the police and seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should also report the accident to your own auto insurance company even though your vehicle was not involved in the accident. It may be beneficial for you to take photographs of the damage to the vehicles and document the location of the accident, if you are capable of doing so. Following the accident, you should consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney such as the attorneys at Caroselli Beachler & Coleman. Whether you are a rideshare driver, rideshare passenger or the driver or passenger in another vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist injured by a rideshare vehicle, the attorneys at Caroselli Beachler & Coleman are here to help you navigate the complex and often confusing claims process. We offer free consultations and can meet with you, your family member or friend at a time and location convenient for the injured party.