Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft make local travel simple and convenient, and more Virginia residents than ever are using these apps. However, if you have been in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle, determining liability can be extremely difficult.
If you or someone you love were in a car accident while riding in an Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare, keep reading to learn how company policies affect who is responsible for your injuries and how you can get compensation for your suffering.
What Is a Rideshare Company?
Rideshare companies, formally called transportation network companies (TNCs), do not employ drivers or own vehicles; instead, they offer software that connects passengers with drivers. Rideshare drivers are independent contractors and are not directly employed by their parent company.
Under Virginia law, TNCs must meet a series of requirements before they can operate within the Commonwealth. For example, rideshare companies must perform background checks on their drivers, maintain liability insurance, and comply with specific recordkeeping rules.
How Uber and Lyft Liability and Insurance Works
Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft accidents are not uncommon. In a 2018 paper, researchers from the University of Chicago estimated that when TNC companies enter a community, there is a 2-4% increase in fatal car crashes. This increase impacts multiple populations, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users.
When a rideshare driver is involved in a car accident, a variety of insurance policies may apply to your injury claim. For example, Uber and Lyft use a three-stage system.
- If a driver has not logged into the rideshare app, their personal auto insurance policy applies during a crash.
- If a driver is logged in, but has not accepted a fare, Uber or Lyft provide supplemental insurance coverage; victims typically must file a claim with both the driver and the TNC’s insurance policies.
- Once a driver accepts a fare on the rideshare app, they are typically covered by the TNC’s $1 million liability policy.
While this system sounds complex, it is even more complicated in the real world.
Many personal car insurance policies have a “business exemption,” and will not cover accidents that occur while someone is driving for profit. Unless your rideshare driver was responsible and purchased additional rideshare insurance, coverage gaps can occur—especially at Stage Two.
Depending on your personal insurance policies, you may also need to file insurance claims with your uninsured/underinsured motorist or personal injury protection (PIP) policy.
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What to Do After a Rideshare Crash
If you are involved in a rideshare accident, you should first make sure you and the others involved in the crash are safe, and then call 911. Reporting your crash to the authorities and the rideshare company is essential, so make sure you and your driver alert Uber or Lyft of the accident. If the company is unaware of the accident, you will not be eligible to receive compensation through their third-party insurance policy.
If you can, make sure to get the contact information of your driver and the other drivers involved in the crash, as well as any witnesses at the scene. You should also take photos of the accident, damaged property, and any injuries you have sustained.
Lastly, even if you do not feel hurt, you should always visit a doctor or hospital after a car accident. Injuries often present days, weeks, or even months after the crash, but a medical professional might be able to identify them before you begin experiencing symptoms. Medical records, lab work, and diagnostic imaging are extremely valuable assets for car accident victims as they leverage the legal system to get fair and just compensation.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer After a Rideshare Crash
Car accidents are traumatic and can impact victims for the rest of their lives. When a car wreck involves a rideshare vehicle, determining who is responsible for your injuries can add layers of stress and uncertainty.
Reaching out to a skilled and experienced Virginia car accident attorney could be one of the best decisions you will ever make. Rideshare crashes are notoriously complex, but having a trusted lawyer on your side will help simplify the process and allow you to focus on your recovery.
An experienced rideshare accident lawyer may also be able to help you overcome potential coverage gaps in your claim. For example, you may have additional claims against the rideshare company if they failed to perform adequate background checks. However, negligent hiring claims are incredibly difficult to investigate and prove without help from a knowledgeable and sophisticated injury lawyer.
Hurt in a Rideshare Crash? Call Phelan Petty
At Phelan Petty, we help victims in the most complex and challenging situations receive justice for their suffering. We are not afraid to take on the most complicated cases and work tirelessly to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
If you have been involved in a rideshare crash or any other type of motor vehicle accident, please contact us today to schedule a free, no-risk situation with our team. Simply call (804) 980-7100 or complete this brief online form, and we will respond promptly.
Barrios, J., Hochberg, Y., Yi, L.H. (2018, October). The cost of convenience: Ridesharing and traffic fatalities. University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Retrieved from https://research.chicagobooth.edu/-/media/research/stigler/pdfs/workingpapers/27thecostofconvenience.pdf
Virginia transportation network company manual (2018, August 29). Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved from https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/dmv277.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.