Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft allow individuals to essentially become freelance taxi drivers using their own vehicle. The popularity of these services, which give people the ability to hail a ride using a mobile app, has skyrocketed in recent years. So too have accidents. Statistically speaking, ride-sharing services are quite safe. The increase in accidents is not due to lack of safety, rather it’s a simple numbers game – there are significantly more Uber and Lyft drivers on the road today than in years’ past.
There is a lot of debate over whether ride-sharing services make the streets safer or more dangerous. A study conducted in 2016 revealed that services like Uber and Lyft reduced arrests for drunk driving, and overall fatal traffic accidents. But an American Journal of Epidemiology study concluded that “the deployment of Uber services in a given metropolitan county had no association with the number of subsequent traffic fatalities.”
Claims involving ride-sharing accidents are often vastly different from typical motor vehicle accident cases. They often involve complex legal issues due to the multiple parties involved: passenger, driver, and the ride-sharing company. If you’re injured in an Uber accident, for example, do you file a claim against Uber, the driver, or both? And what about the insurance? Do you need to deal with Uber’s commercial insurance policy, the driver’s personal policy, or both? A Boston auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident.
Who is Liable?
The question of who pays what is made particularly complex due to the independent contractor relationship between Uber and Lyft drivers and their employer. Ride share companies often use this arrangement as a defense to liability when one of their drivers is involved in an accident.
Fortunately, auto insurance carriers are beginning to create solutions to this problem in the form of specialized policies. But the gray area is still quite large. For example, new ride-share insurance policies typically kick in when the driver accepts the request for a ride and begins driving to the pick-up location. When the driver isn’t working, the personal insurance policy takes over.
But what if the driver switches on the app, making herself available before she has a passenger or is en route to a pick-up location? In this situation, ride-share policies generally do not apply. Neither, however, do most personal policies. If she switches on the app, she is technically working, and commercial use of the vehicle isn’t covered by most personal auto insurance policies.
Due to the constantly-evolving nature of ride-share services, the gray area of liability in ride-share accidents doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. In many Uber and Lyft accident cases, a portion of the claim is paid by the driver’s personal insurance policy and the remaining damages are paid by the commercial policies of Uber or Lyft. Of course, the companies’ claims adjusters are skilled at negotiating what they will pay, and commercial policies often have a $100,000 max per accident. As such, it is essential to have an experienced MA motor vehicle accident attorney by your side if you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident. Continue reading