Getting in a car accident is a scary experience, but certain situations can add complexity to the aftermath. For example, if you’re driving someone else’s car, how does the insurance company handle that claim? Many people utilize ride-hailing services across the nation, including in Southern California, so what happens if you’re involved in a crash with a Lyft or Uber driver? Find out more about how frequently this happens, as well as what to do in this situation.
The Reality of Traffic Accidents
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 6 million car accidents occur annually on U.S. roads. In those accidents, approximately 90 people die every day. In nearly half of the accidents, someone involved is injured. Seatbelts lessen the risk of a fatal accident, but those involved can still be seriously injured and need medical treatment.
In a standard collision, where both drivers are the policyholders or covered under the vehicle’s insurance policy, they will exchange information and let their insurance companies work out who is responsible. The driver found to be at fault generally has to pay out for the damages incurred, including any treatment for injuries sustained. Most auto insurance coverage extends to the passengers in a covered vehicle. But is this the case if you’re in an accident with a Lyft or Uber driver?
Uber and Lyft Accident Stats
Since Uber launched in 2009, it has amassed more than 3.9 million drivers across 63 countries. Lyft has over 2 million drivers in the U.S. and Canada. In 2015, Uber reported that the number of drivers doubled from the previous year, with 327,000 providing ride-hailing service. By 2018, the number of drivers was reported at 750,000. With so many drivers working for these companies on the road, it’s no surprise that they are involved in some of the 6 million accidents that happen nationwide every year.
In December 2019, Uber released a safety report that included statistics from 2017 and 2018 incidents. However, this safety report left out the details of the many traffic accidents that occurred during this period. According to a study conducted by professors at the University of Chicago and Rice University, the launch of a ride-hailing platform like Lyft or Uber in a city is associated with a 2-3% increase in the number of fatal accidents and motor vehicle fatalities. This study translates to about another 1,000 fatalities per year.
Some research also shows that Lyft and Uber drivers contribute to increased congestion on the roads in the cities where they provide their services due to “deadheading.” Deadheading refers to the time that ride-hailing drivers spend driving around to pick up passengers or killing time while waiting for another request to come through the app. Increased road congestion is linked to a higher rate of collisions, as there are simply more cars on the road with drivers that can cause crashes.
Uber and Lyft drivers are required to carry minimum coverage amounts on their vehicles. This personal insurance policy is in effect when they are transporting themselves. When they pick up a passenger, Uber drivers are fully covered by the company’s auto insurance policy, which includes $1 million in property damage and $1 million in liability coverage. If the Uber driver is available to pick up passengers but doesn’t currently have a passenger in the vehicle, their own personal policy would cover damages while a contingency insurance policy provided by Uber would be available as secondary coverage.
Lyft offers a similar policy to its drivers, with $1 million in coverage for third-party auto liability, comprehensive and collision insurance up to the value of the vehicle, and uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This policy is in effect when the app is on and drivers are picking up passengers or actively transporting passengers.
FAQ About Uber and Lyft Accidents
Several questions often come up among clients who have been involved in accidents with Uber and Lyft drivers. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand what your rights are and how to proceed.
What Happens if You Get in an Accident While in an Uber Vehicle?
According to Uber, you should make sure that all involved parties are safe following the accident, notify the police and paramedics if necessary, and then contact Uber. After you report the accident, you will receive an incident report form via email. All involved insurance carriers will investigate and determine whether Uber’s insurance coverage applies. You should receive a response within two to three business days. Uber also has a $1,000 deductible that applies to its physical damage coverage.
How Do I Contact Uber About an Accident?
Within the Uber app, you can navigate to Trip and Fare Review > I was involved in an accident. This section of the app will allow you to describe the situation and how the accident occurred.
Can You Sue Uber for an Accident?
Yes, but as in any car accident legal case, you must be able to prove that the Uber driver was at fault in the accident and show the extent of the damages incurred, which may include any physical injuries sustained. Under the California Vehicle Code Section 5430, ride-hailing companies must carry $1 million in insurance coverage for personal injury, property damage, and death caused by their drivers. You have two years to file a lawsuit.
How Much Does Uber Pay for Accidents?
The amount you receive from Uber for your accident lawsuit depends on the extent of the damages incurred. The lawsuit you bring against Uber or Lyft may include past and future costs associated with medical treatment for injuries sustained, lost wages or income due to injury, punitive damages, and past and future physical or mental pain and suffering. You must be able to prove these damages.
Just because Uber and Lyft carry $1 million insurance policies on their drivers does not mean you will receive the maximum compensation. Working with an experienced attorney who can fight on your behalf is the best way to get what you deserve after being involved in an accident with a ride-hailing driver. Lem Garcia Law has experienced Uber and Lyft car accident attorneys who have worked with clients throughout Southern California, including West Covina, Baldwin Park, and City of Industry. Contact us to find out how we can help.