Ridesharing is a relatively new method of transportation globally; in Ohio, it started to roll out only in the past few years. With this method, people in need of a ride can use a rideshare company’s smartphone app to look for registered drivers who are willing to share their personal cars for a ride and for a fee. Drivers can likewise use the app to match with potential passengers. It is somewhat like calling for a taxi using a smartphone, except the ‘taxi’ is a personal car driven by a private individual.
Because ridesharing makes transportation easier and cheaper, it has quickly gained popularity. However, the law was not prepared enough for this new business model, and specific regulations on ridesharing began to crop up only last year. Today, important questions still abound, such as: What happens when a person is injured in a ridesharing accident? Who is liable in such an accident?
While the law is still fuzzy on this issue, the Fitch Law Firm is well-equipped to handle a ridesharing accident case. If you have been injured in such an accident, the Fitch Law Firm can make sense of your case and fight for what you deserve, whether in the face of individual drivers, rideshare companies, or insurance companies. Call (855) LAW-OHIO for a free initial consultation today.
Uber And Lyft’s Insurance Policies Explained
Uber and Lyft are two of the biggest rideshare companies today. Late last year, Ohio legislation was enacted to require insurance obligations from such companies. Uber and Lyft should have an insurance structure covering their registered drivers in case they get involved in an accident.
With Uber, for example, there are three types of insurance policies:
- An Uber driver who is off-duty and not available to passengers is covered only by his/her own personal auto insurance.
- An Uber driver who is available but has not yet picked up a passenger is covered by his/her own personal insurance plus Uber’s additional liability coverage. This contingent coverage can go up to $50,000 per injury for a maximum total of $100,000.
- An Uber driver who is on a trip with a passenger is covered by Uber’s $1 million liability coverage and $1 million uninsured/underinsured coverage (which kicks in when the other party in the accident is uninsured or underinsured).
Lyft has similar policies, with a few differences:
- A Lyft driver who has not received a ride request is covered only by his/her own personal auto insurance. But if the driver is not covered by personal auto insurance, Lyft provides contingent liability coverage of up to $50,000 per injury for a maximum total of $100,000.
- A Lyft driver who has accepted a ride request is covered by Lyft’s primary insurance, which provides up to $1 million per accident. It also has an uninsured/underinsured coverage of up to $1 million.
Given these policies, passengers might feel they are covered if they get in an accident in an Uber or Lyft car. Likewise, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles who are injured by Uber or Lyft drivers might believe they are automatically covered by the company’s insurance. After all, a million-dollar liability coverage is much more than the minimum requirement in Ohio, which is $25,000.
There are, however, a few catches that may allow ridesharing companies to deny their liability in an accident.
How Rideshare Accident Victims May Be Denied
Insurance Policies Forbidding Professional Services
When rideshare drivers do not yet have a passenger, they have to use their own personal car insurance. But not all personal auto insurance policies cover drivers who are driving for professional services. In fact, some personal insurance providers expressly prohibit driving for hire.
In other words, rideshare drivers may not actually have insurance coverage when they are off-duty. If an off-duty rideshare driver hits a pedestrian or another vehicle and injures someone in that crash, the victim may have nothing to claim against.
Drivers As Independent Contractors
Companies like Uber consider their registered drivers as third-party service providers or contractors – in other words, the drivers are not employees of the company. Thus, the company can try to distance itself and deny responsibility for the actions of a driver.
What A Rideshare Accident Victim Should Do
A person who has been injured in a ridesharing accident should be able to make an insurance claim against the rideshare company or even the driver. However, companies like Uber have been repeatedly able to deny accident claims, even ones involving deaths.
The best course of action for an accident victim is to enlist a lawyer who is experienced in vehicle accident cases, knowledgeable in the newest regulations, and fearless in facing big companies.
The Fitch Law Firm can provide that legal help to you. Our skilled and aggressive legal representation gives you the best chance at getting fair and just compensation for your injuries.
Tell us about your accident in a free initial consultation by calling (855) LAW-OHIO or by filling out the contact form on our contact us page.