Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft continue to be a popular option for those who do not wish to drive, especially in areas with limited public transportation. These services provide an inexpensive and convenient way to get to where you need to go all managed through the convenience of your smartphone. In the event of an accident, however, they do present some unique challenges if you need to pursue an injury claim. If you have been injured in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate the claim process.
No Coverage for Rideshare Accidents?
Reviewing some history will provide some context to the challenges that rideshare accidents present. As you probably already know, rideshare drivers are not employees of either Uber or Lyft. Instead, they are independent contractors who use their own personal vehicles to provide rides for passengers. As an aside, Uber and Lyft do not even see themselves as transportation companies or common carriers - they argue that they are a technology service that connects drivers with potential passengers who need a ride.
Because rideshare drivers were using their personal vehicles, they were expected to maintain their own insurance coverage. Most drivers had no issue with this, as they already had purchased insurance coverage. Unfortunately, their insurance company would decline coverage in the event of an accident because they had not purchased a commercial policy. And because Uber and Lyft were not providing any insurance coverage, injured parties had no recourse beyond their own insurance coverage.
As a result of customer demands and negative publicity, this issue was addressed both by the Florida Legislature and Uber and Lyft. That said, coverage can still be complicated. If you have been injured in a rideshare accident, a car accident lawyer can provide you with the guidance you need.
Florida’s Rideshare Laws
Florida law requires rideshare drivers and the companies themselves to carry insurance in varying amounts depending on what the driver is doing. If the driver is logged in on the ridesharing app but not engaged in providing a ride, Florida law requires the following minimum coverage:
- $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person
- $100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident
- $25,000 for property damage
If the driver is logged in on the app and engaged in providing a ride, Florida law then increases the minimum coverage:
- $1,000,000 for death, bodily injury, and property damage
Note that the law defines being engaged in providing a ride as including the time from when the driver accepts the ride until the passenger exits the vehicle. In addition, these coverages are in addition to Florida’s PIP coverage minimums.
Lastly, the driver does not need to purchase this coverage (aside from their PIP coverage and their own personal insurance) if coverage consistent with these minimums is provided by the rideshare company. Both Uber and Lyft provide coverage for drivers consistent with these requirements for drivers who are logged in on the app and engaged in providing rides.
More Than Just Insurance Coverage
Florida law imposes other requirements on rideshare companies in addition to minimum insurance coverage amounts. Specifically, rideshare companies must screen their drivers before allowing them to participate in their service. These screening requirements include the following:
- Verifying the driver’s age and identity
- Verifying that they have a valid driver’s license and their vehicle is properly registered
- Conducting a criminal background check for felonies, sexual offenses, DWIs, reckless driving, and other offenses
- Reviewing the applicant’s driving record for more than three moving violations in the past three years
- Requiring a “zero tolerance” policy for the use of drugs or alcohol while engaged in providing a ride through the service
Rideshare companies are also required to re-screen their drivers every three years. In short, Uber and Lyft are required to take steps to ensure that their drivers do not present a danger to their passengers or other people on the road. Failure to comply with these requirements could expose them to additional liability in the event that their driver causes an accident while using the service. If you suspect this may be an issue in your case, you should contact a car accident lawyer right away.
How All of This Applies to Your Case
Rideshare cases are complicated because of the overlapping insurance coverage in amounts that vary according to what the driver was doing. Here is how these requirements would apply in various scenarios:
- You are injured as a rideshare passenger. Because the driver is engaged in providing a ride, you can pursue a claim against the $1 million policy amount. Note that if you have your own PIP coverage, you may have to first make your claim under that policy. Any uncovered losses would then be pursued under the rideshare coverage.
- You are injured as another driver (or passenger in another vehicle). This situation can get complicated. If the driver is not logged in on the app, you have to pursue any losses not covered by your PIP policy against the driver’s personal coverage. If they were logged in on the app but had not accepted a fare, any losses not covered by PIP would be covered by the $50,000 rideshare policy. If they had accepted a fare or were transporting a passenger, then the $1 million rideshare policy would apply.
Figuring out which insurance applies will not be easy. You must first establish liability, which can be challenging in and of itself. For these reasons and many more, you should consider contacting a car accident lawyer if you have been seriously injured in a rideshare accident.
Call Powell, Powell & Powell to Discuss Your Rideshare Accident Case
With offices across the emerald coast and decades of experience, we can help you get fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at 850-682-2757 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer who knows how to get results.