Over the last decade popularity of ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, has steadily increased. Perhaps not surprisingly, so too has the increase in ridesharing motor vehicle accidents. Indeed, economists at the University of Chicago found that motor vehicle accident deaths had increased approximately 3 percent since the introduction of ridesharing services. It’s likely that the increase in non-fatal motor vehicle accidents have increased even more over that same period.
Our attorneys have represented an increasing number of clients who have suffered serious personal injury — or families of those killed — in car accidents involving ridesharing services. The following are answers to some of the questions triggered in such cases:
What insurance limits are available in crashes caused by negligent rideshare drivers?
In motor vehicle crashes caused by negligent rideshare drivers, such as drivers for Uber and Lyft, a claim can be made against the drivers’ personal auto insurance. However, such policies typically have “business use” exclusions, which means that the policy will not afford coverage in crashes arising out of the driver’s business use — such as while driving for a ridesharing service, such as Uber or Lyft.
However, these ridesharing services should step-in to provide insurance coverage for their negligent drivers. Indeed, Uber and Lyft provide coverage of up to $1 million in crashes caused by their negligent drivers in cases where they have picked-up a customer who is inside the vehicle, as well as when the driver has accepted a trip and is on the way to a pick-up location. In other contexts, such as when the driver is not logged-in to the Uber or Lyft app, there is either limited coverage or no coverage at all.
Whose insurance will apply in rideshare accidents?
This is often a point of contention in any crash involving a rideshare service. First, it is necessary to determine whose negligence was a cause of the crash. In other words, simply because a rideshare driver was involved in a crash does not necessarily mean that the ridesharing insurance policy would apply.
In cases where someone is a passenger in a rideshare vehicle and injured on the way to their destination because of the clear negligence of the rideshare driver (i.e. failing to stop at a stop sign/light, failing to yield the right-of-way, reckless driving, etc.), it is clear that the $1 million coverage from a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft will apply. In other cases where at first blush it appears the crash was caused by someone else — such as another private vehicle, pedestrian, or otherwise — there may still be ways to trigger the ridesharing coverage.
Our attorneys are experienced and skilled in posturing the case and making all necessary claims and arguments to maximize the available insurance coverage. For instance, we have been successful in recovering ridesharing policies arising out of motor vehicle crashes where the liability of the rideshare driver is questionable — such as where the primary at-fault driver was the “other” vehicle, but because of substandard insurance coverage we were able to prove that the rideshare driver was partially at fault and therefore we were able to recover from the rideshare insurance policy.
This can work out much more favorably to clients who have suffered serious injury in a car crash only to learn that the primarily at-fault driver only carried the minimum auto liability limits in Illinois of $25,000, and the client’s own underinsured motorist (UIM) limits are not much more. Being able to prove that the rideshare driver was partially responsible — especially in a crash involving serious injury — can make a substantial difference in potential recovery for our clients.
What should you do if involved in a motor vehicle crash involving a rideshare service, such as Uber or Lyft?
As with any serious motor vehicle crash, it is most important to address any potential medical emergency immediately and at the first sign of symptoms — especially any potential brain or spine-related injuries. It is also important to make sure the crash is documented by way of police report or investigation, so that the names of the parties, witnesses, and other information are preserved.
In any such crash involving the potential for serious injuries, it is critical to contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. We would be happy to discuss a potential matter and answer any questions free of charge; give us a call at 312-527-4500.