By: Jonathon W. Douglas, Partner
The proliferation of rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft raise interesting issues related to liability and insurance coverage when a rideshare company vehicle is involved in a car accident. According to articles published on www.businessofapps.com, Uber drivers complete approximately 15 million trips each day and Lyft had tallied 1 billion rides given as of September 2018. http://www.businessofapps.com/data/lyft-statistics/; http://www.businessofapps.com/data/uber-statistics/. These staggering numbers illustrate the significant impact rideshare companies are having on our day to day lives. Even if you are not a rideshare user, the fact is when you are out on the road, the likelihood of being involved in a car accident with a rideshare vehicle is on the rise. We have handled many Uber and Lyft accidents on behalf of our car accident clients. When handling Uber and Lyft-related car accident cases, our injury clients have many of the same questions regarding insurance coverage and whether they will be covered for their injuries related to their Uber or Lyft car accident. The intent of this article is to address frequently asked questions by Uber and Lyft car accident victims.
I WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT WHILE RIDING IN AN UBER OR LYFT
When you are riding in an Uber or Lyft, you are covered for injuries that you incur as a result of the Uber or Lyft driver’s negligence or the negligence of another driver. Florida Law requires that a rideshare company carry $1,000,000 in bodily injury liability coverage as well as Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage for drivers while the driver is actively engaged in providing a rideshare service. If the Uber or Lyft driver’s negligence causes you injuries, the $1,000,000 in bodily injury liability coverage kicks in. If the Uber or Lyft driver was not the at-fault driver, the primary insurance to cover your injuries would come from the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage. If the at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate you for the injuries sustained as a result of the car accident, then the Uber or Lyft Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage will kick in.
Florida lawmakers took a big step in protecting the users of rideshare services when they enacted Florida Statute §627.748. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.748.html. This statute regulates Transportation Network Companies (TNC) – TNC is the legal term for a rideshare company such as Uber or Lyft. This statute requires certain insurance coverage to be carried by the TNC on behalf of its drivers. The statute also imposes certain insurance requirements for TNC drivers. The most impressive part of this statute is that even if the TNC driver’s own insurance coverage lapses or doesn’t provide the required coverage while the TNC driver is engaged in providing a rideshare service, the TNC must provide the required coverage. This statute is a reflection of the very real impact rideshare companies are having on our society.
AN UBER / LYFT DRIVER CAUSED A CAR ACCIDENT THAT INJURED ME
When an Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident and you are not a passenger in the Uber or Lyft but in another vehicle, on a motorcycle, bicycle or perhaps a pedestrian, the analysis of what insurance coverage is available is two-fold. If the Uber or Lyft driver was on the way to pick up a ride or actively providing a ride, the rideshare company carries a $1,000,000 bodily injury liability policy to protect others from the negligently-operated Uber or Lyft vehicle. However, if the Uber or Lyft driver was online but waiting on a request, the driver’s own bodily injury liability coverage applies to accidents the Uber or Lyft driver causes. In Florida, there is a requirement that Uber and Lyft drivers carry a minimum of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per occurrence in bodily injury liability coverage.
As you can see, the key determination regarding insurance coverage in this scenario is to establish whether the Uber or Lyft driver who caused the accident was engaged in providing a ride (actually driving someone or on their way to pick up a ride) or whether they were logged on to the rideshare platform, but waiting to accept a rideshare request.
THE UPSIDE FOR UBER AND LYFT ACCIDENT VICTIMS
The good news for drivers and riders in the State of Florida is that if you are involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or pedestrian accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, there are laws in place which require certain minimum insurance requirements for the Uber and Lyft drivers. The requirements will help protect the people who have been injured as a result of an Uber or Lyft driver’s negligence or while riding in the Uber or Lyft and the rideshare driver is not at fault.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident, contact Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid and Douglas for a free consultation.