California law protects people who sustain auto accident injuries caused by someone else's negligence, but the process of filing a personal injury claim becomes more complicated when rideshare services are involved.
Using rideshare services is not inherently dangerous. Drivers for ridesharing services are required to undergo background checks and are dismissed if they show a pattern of unsafe behavior. However, accidents do sometimes happen.
Rideshare accidents typically fall into one of four categories.
- Injured passenger: You are injured as a passenger in a car driven by a contractor for a ridesharing service.
- Injured contractor: You are a contractor for a ridesharing service and suffer injuries when you are picking up, transporting, or dropping off passengers.
- Occupants of other vehicles injured by contractor transporting passengers: You are in a private vehicle and injured by a driver who is in the process of transporting passengers for a ridesharing service.
- Occupants of other vehicles injured by contractor driving alone: You're in a private vehicle and are injured by a driver who is not currently carrying passengers, but is on his way to pick up a fare for a ridesharing service.
Depending upon the exact circumstances surrounding the accident, the ridesharing service could be free of fault, solely at fault, or partially at fault. Determining liability for your injuries is the first step in filing a successful personal injury claim.
Company Specific Insurance Coverage
Drivers for ridesharing services are considered independent contractors because they are free to work as little or as much they want, according to a schedule that fits their needs. As contractors, they are not technically required to be covered by a company insurance policy. However, most services have voluntarily decided to include their drivers to provide peace of mind to customers. Califormia has certain requirements for insurance limits for a transportation service such as Uber, Lyft, or some other transportation services. (See TNC requirements below)
Uber, the leader in the ridesharing market, has a $1 million liability policy for drivers who have formally accepted a trip in the app. They provide $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, as well as contingent collision and comprehensive coverage.
Lyft drivers actively using the company's app are also covered by a four-part insurance policy. This coverage includes contingent liability coverage that pays for damages when the driver is waiting for a ride request, primary automotive liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and contingent collision and comprehensive coverage.
When an accident occurs that qualifies for coverage under a company specific policy, the process is similar to what would happen if you were involved in an accident with a taxi or bus driver. You will want to seek medical treatment and obtain contact information for the driver as well as any witnesses. If possible, you should also take photos of the scene of the accident and jot down a timeline of events while your memory is still fresh.
Driver Insurance Coverage
It is important to keep in mind that coverage provided by the ridesharing service only applies to a driver who is at fault for the accident and is actively using the app. When an at-fault driver is not logged in, the only course of action is to seek damages from his personal auto policy. This can become complicated because picking up paid fares is specifically excluded under most auto insurance policies.
Protecting Your Rights
California law gives you two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim involving an auto accident. (There are exceptions, so speak to an attorney before deciding your statute of limitation has expired.) You can seek compensation for medical expenses, anticipated future medical expenses due to accident-related disability, lost wages, applicable loss of future earning potential, disfigurement and pain and suffering.
The best way to protect yourself after suffering injuries in a rideshare auto accident is to retain the services of a skilled attorney. Personal injury law can be quite complicated, and it is important to have an advocate on your side while you work towards recovery.
The experienced legal team at Inland Empire Law Group is committed to helping California residents receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives following an auto accident. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. Appointments are available at our Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga locations.
California TNC (Transportation Network Carriers) Regulations
TNC services are categorized by three periods:
Period 1: App open – waiting for a match.
Period 1: TNCs must provide primary insurance in the amount of no less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for death and personal injury per person, one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) for death and personal injury per incident, and thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) for property damage.
TNCs must also maintain insurance coverage that provides excess coverage insuring the TNC and the driver in the amount of at least two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) per occurrence to cover any liability arising from a participating driver using a vehicle in connection with a TNC’s online-enabled application or platform.
Period 2: Match accepted – but passenger not yet picked up (i.e. driver is on his/her way to pick up the passenger).
Period 3: Passenger in the vehicle and until the passenger exits the vehicle.
Periods 2 and 3 - TNCs must provide primary commercial insurance in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000).
Period 3 - TNCs must also provide uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) during Period 3 (i.e., from the moment a passenger enters the vehicle until the passenger exits the vehicle). The policy may also provide this coverage during any other time period if requested by a participating driver and agreed upon by the insurance carrier.