Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are becoming increasingly popular, especially in metro areas like Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham. In 2018, the Alabama legislature approved ridesharing statewide, allowing these companies to operate in any part of the state. As a result, this method of transportation is quickly replacing taxicabs for those who need to get from one place to another.
The convenience of ridesharing makes it preferable for many, because it leverages the latest technology to bring drivers and passengers together. Through an app on your smartphone, you can summon a ride and pay for everything electronically. But as with any new transportation system, there are some issues that those who use it may have to deal with.
One area that is very confusing is what happens when a rideshare driver gets into an auto accident. Whose insurance covers the accident, and how does an injured party go about filing a claim?
The short answer to this question is, it depends. Specifically, it depends on who is at fault for the accident (this is always the case), and what status the driver was in when the crash occurred.
Liability for Alabama Ridesharing Accidents
Uber and Lyft drivers are required to have their own auto insurance, and they are supposed to tell their insurer that they are driving for a rideshare company. This might not always happen, however, and it could cause an issue if you end up injured and need to file a claim against a ridesharing driver. The insurance company might claim that they did not know their insured was driving for one of these companies, and in this case, they could try to refuse coverage for the accident.
Beyond the insurance coverage that the rideshare driver has, Uber and Lyft offer some additional coverage as well. However, how much they cover depends on what the driver was doing at the time of the crash.
Coverage from ridesharing companies is broken down into three “periods” or “statuses” that the driver was in:
- Driving App Turned Off: When the ridesharing driver does not have his/her app turned on, it is assumed that they are off duty, and Uber and Lyft do not extend any coverage during this period. If someone is injured in a rideshare accident when the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault but they do not have their app turned on, they would need to file a claim with the driver’s personal auto insurer. If, as we discussed earlier, the insurer denies coverage for whatever reason, then they may need to look to the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in their own policy, or consider a personal injury claim directly against the at fault driver.
- Driving App On with No Passenger: If the Uber or Lyft driver has their app turned on, then they are considered to be working and available to pick up passengers. If an accident happens while the driver does not have a passenger in the car (e.g., they are waiting for a fare or on the way to pick up a passenger), Uber and Lyft provide liability coverage of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, as well as $25,000 in coverage for property damage.
- Driving App On with a Passenger: When an accident occurs while there is a passenger in the car, Uber and Lyft both provide up to $1 million of total liability coverage.
It is important to note that the coverages listed apply to injured rideshare passengers, injured drivers and passengers of other vehicles, and injured pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. However, this coverage is not extended to the Uber or Lyft driver if they were to get hurt. In a case like this, the injured driver would have to look to the at fault party’s insurer, or if they do not have insurance, the uninsured/underinsured coverage within their own auto policy.
Injured in a Ridesharing Accident in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer
If you or someone close to got injured in an accident that involved a Lyft or Uber driver, you may have a right to significant compensation. But because of the nuances involved with claims like these, it is highly recommended that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of this area of the law, and the various legal avenues that you may have available.
If your rideshare accident happened in Alabama, contact Hedge Copeland for assistance. To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844. We look forward to serving you!