Most of us probably do not even think about the possibility of a car accident when we climb into an Uber or Lyft. But once a crash happens, you quickly realize that the aftermath of a rideshare wreck is anything but straightforward. How well do I really know this driver I just met? Who is responsible for paying damages? What insurance coverage applies? What if I am seriously injured?
These are all valid questions, and in the confusing period after a crash, they can feel like too much to handle. In this article, our car accident attorneys try to clear up the confusion surrounding rideshare accidents and break down the laws and types of insurance coverage that apply to these wrecks.
What Laws Apply to Services Like Uber and Lyft?
Virginia law treats Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare service providers as a distinct category of legal entity known as transportation network companies (TNCs). The law defines a TNC as any service that uses a digital platform to provide prearranged rides. TNCs must obtain a certificate of fitness from the state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) to operate, and they are also required to provide proof of liability insurance as part of the application process.
Once approved, TNCs hire drivers as independent contractors. Rideshare drivers do not need to have a commercial driver’s license, but they must clearly display the company’s name, logo, or other designation when driving for one of these companies. So, after you have booked a ride through the app, you should be able to visually double-check the service provider as you enter the vehicle.
In addition to these regulations, the larger rideshare services require their drivers to maintain personal car insurance coverage; meanwhile, the company provides additional insurance that activates whenever a driver has the app turned on. For example, Uber and Lyft both maintain liability policies on each vehicle with $1 million in coverage, which can help cover any injuries to passengers.
However, there are four things you should know about these policies:
- The $1 million liability policy apply while the rideshare driver is on the way to pick up a fare or has a customer in the vehicle.
- To access the $1 million policy, you will need to prove that the Uber or Lyft driver was at fault.
- If the Lyft or Uber driver is logged into the app, but has not accepted a fare, you’ll have to file claims with both the driver’s auto insurer and the rideshare company’s supplemental $100,000 policy.
- If the rideshare driver is not logged into the app, Uber and Lyft’s insurance policies do not apply.
Since the strength of a rideshare claim depends on who is at fault and may involve multiple insurance policies, it often requires a thorough investigation from an experienced attorney. And smaller or less reputable rideshare companies may not maintain nearly as much coverage, which means you and your injury attorney may have to look elsewhere for potential sources of compensation.
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What About Taxi Services?
The law treats taxi cabs differently than rideshare vehicles. Under Virginia law, taxicab operators provide a for-hire service and must register with the Commonwealth. The law also requires taxis to obtain special license plates and display their permit number in all advertisements. Taxis are not allowed to carry more than six passengers.
Insurance requirements for taxicab operators vary from city to city in Virginia, but statewide law requires all taxis to carry at least $125,000 in coverage for bodily injuries and property losses. While taxi drivers who work for larger companies may carry additional insurance that can cover significant injuries or property damage, smaller companies or independent operators often have coverage at or near the required minimum. If this is the case, it is especially important to contact an experienced lawyer who can identify all possible sources of compensation, since the minimum coverage of $125,000 may not be able to pay for the full costs of your injuries and losses.
Steps to Take After a Taxi or Rideshare Accident
Filing a personal injury claim after a rideshare or taxi accident can be a complicated process. Regardless of the circumstances of the crash, there are several steps you should always take after a rideshare collision:
Contact law enforcement and file a police report
Filing a police report is essential to protecting your legal rights and making sure the incident gets documented. Even if you have personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured motorist coverage, you should always request a copy of the police report after a crash since it can provide important evidence for an injury claim.
Get medical treatment right away
If you do not receive medical treatment after the crash, not only could you put your health in jeopardy, but you may significantly complicate your injury claim. Insurance companies frequently argue that delayed treatment is proof that victims were not seriously injured in the crash, resulting in a legal battle. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort, see a doctor.
Get contact and insurance information from everyone involved
You should also collect detailed information about all the parties, including their names, license plate numbers, permit numbers, and insurance information. Make sure you know the name of the taxi company or rideshare service you are using. Each company will have different policies for providing injury coverage, including varying rules on when the driver’s personal auto insurance ends and where the company’s begins.
Take pictures of your injuries, property damage, and the crash site (if possible)
Many victims are too injured to gather evidence such as pictures on their own, which is why it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer will know exactly how to investigate your crash, preserve evidence, and protect your rights. Even if you were able to document the crash scene on your own, a lawyer may uncover additional evidence that the average person would never know to look for.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney
Speaking with an attorney for an initial case evaluation should be free, so there is no risk, and an attorney can help you understand your rights and what is at stake.
Unfortunately, since rideshare injury claims usually involve multiple insurance policies, it is very likely that the insurance companies will try to avoid paying you fair compensation by saying that one of the other companies should step up and pay. To cut through the confusion and finger-pointing, you should speak with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer who can investigate your claim, gather important evidence, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Experienced Injury Lawyers at Phelan Petty for Help After a Rideshare Accident in Richmond
If you have suffered injuries in a rideshare or taxi accident, the last thing you should be worrying about is dealing with multiple insurance companies, adhering to strict filing deadlines, and following up with the police to get critical information. At Phelan Petty, our experienced lawyers are committed to providing the support, guidance, and information you need to get well and recover compensation for the losses you have suffered after a devastating crash.
Commercial services: Taxicab. (n.d.). Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/commercial/#mcs/programs/intrastate/taxicab.asp
TNC frequently asked questions. (n.d.). Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/commercial/#tnc/faqs.asp
Uber driver-partner insurance. (n.d.). Uber. Retrieved from https://www.uber.com/drive/insurance/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.