Who Is Liable in a Rideshare Accident: The Driver, Rideshare Company, or Both?

Who Is Liable in a Rideshare Accident: The Driver, Rideshare Company, or BothIf you or a loved one is injured in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver or while riding as a passenger, you may wonder who is liable in a rideshare accident. Knowing who is liable can help guide your legal strategy to seek compensation for your injuries. But collisions involving Uber and Lyft vehicles are often more complex than a typical car accident because it can be difficult to determine responsibility in a rideshare accident. 

Serious injuries generally result in expensive medical bills and other associated costs. To get the compensation you need, legal counsel from a knowledgeable California rideshare lawyer is crucial. Attorney Michael Henderson has decades of experience helping accident victims recover maximum compensation from liable parties like Uber, Lyft, and their drivers. Reach out to a highly-experienced personal injury attorney.

California Rideshare Regulations

Though both companies now operate beyond U.S. borders, California was where Uber and Lyft both started. In 2013, California became the first state to regulate rideshare companies. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a new category of transportation network companies (TNCs), including rideshares like Uber and Lyft. 

The state required the companies to hold a CPUC license, have vehicle inspection protocols, driver training programs, criminal background checks, and a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol. 

California rideshare companies are also required to have $1 million insurance policies. Since then, most of these regulations, including insurance requirements, have become mandates for both companies in nearly all states. 

How Does Insurance Work for Rideshare Companies?

Both Uber and Lyft carry a $1 million policy for each driver now, regardless of what state the driver is operating in. These policies cover both drivers and passengers injured in rideshare accidents. 

All drivers in California are required to carry personal auto insurance. In some situations, the driver may be liable for a rideshare accident, in which case, their insurance would come into play. But sometimes, the rideshare company is liable. Knowing who will foot the bill will potentially determine how much compensation is available to you. California determines whose insurance applies to your claim according to the “period” the driver is in. 

Period 0

During this period, the driver is acting as a private person, and their driving is unrelated to their status as a contractor for the rideshare company. The rideshare app is not on. California law requires every driver on the road to carry the following minimum auto insurance:

  • $15,000 of bodily injury coverage per person injured in an accident,
  • $30,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident, and
  • $5,000 of property damage per accident.

The individual driver is responsible for carrying at least this amount of insurance. They may choose to carry a larger policy. 

Period 1

Once the driver logs into the app, the company’s insurance may potentially apply. During period 1, the app is on, and the driver is available but has not yet paired the driver with a passenger. They are essentially on standby. 

During this time, the driver’s personal insurance still applies if there is an accident and they are at fault. If their insurance does not cover the amount of the claim, Uber and Lyft policies will provide $50,000 and $100,000 coverage for injuries and $25,000 in property damage.

Period 2 

When the app pairs a driver with a passenger, the driver is in period 2. During this period, the $1 million company insurance policy carried by Uber or Lyft kicks in even before the passenger is in the vehicle. 

Period 3

This period is when a passenger has used the app and is in the rideshare vehicle. Like Period 2, the full company insurance policy will apply to cover both the driver and passenger if an accident occurs. 

Who Is Liable in a Rideshare Accident?

California is an at-fault state, which means that the party who caused the crash is responsible for paying damages. Vehicle accidents are a subset of personal injury law which is based on the concept of negligence. To prove that someone is liable in a rideshare accident, you need to show that their behavior satisfies all of the elements of legal negligence.

  1. The driver owed you a duty of care. A rideshare driver owes their passengers, other drivers, pedestrians, etc, a duty to drive with reasonable care and follow all traffic laws. 
  2. The driver breached that duty. The driver acted in a way that did not satisfy the duty of care. 
  3. The breach caused the accident. The breach of duty caused or contributed to the occurrence of the accident. 
  4. Actual damage. The accident resulted in actual damages or harm.

Your attorney can help you determine who was responsible, given the facts of your case. If you were a passenger in the rideshare vehicle, you could help by saving records of your ride, including all of the driver’s information, times, and route. It is also important to keep track of all associated expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and more. 

Comparative Negligence in California 

If you were a passenger in the rideshare vehicle, you are unlikely to share any degree of fault because you were not driving. If you were not a passenger but were another driver on the road and an Uber or Lyft driver hit you, your actions could have contributed to the collision. For example, you may have been hit by a rideshare vehicle that failed to stop at an intersection—but if you were speeding at that time, you may have contributed to the severity of the collision. 

In California, even if you have some degree of rideshare accident responsibility you can still file a claim.  However, the other party will almost always try to make it seem like you had a high degree of fault because it saves them money. It is important to have an attorney who understands how the system works to fight zealously on your behalf. 

Contact the Henderson Law Firm

Uber and Lyft are large companies that have their own legal counsel prepared to help them minimize liability and the amount of compensation they owe you. The Henderson Law Firm is not afraid to take on these companies, their attorneys, and their insurance providers. Let attorney Michael Henderson help you determine who is liable and what the best legal strategy is for your claim. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.