Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have filled the streets with easily-accessible, low-cost transportation options. But this new convenience has introduced a new kind of personal injury claim when drivers for these services are involved in accidents. Fortunately, New York requires ridesharing companies to carry large insurance policies covering auto accidents caused by their drivers.
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What Happens if I’m Injured by an Uber or Lyft Driver?
New York covers ridesharing services, or Transportation Network Services (TNC), under Article 44-B of its Vehicle and Traffic (VAT) Law. The law covers both safety protocols and insurance requirements for these businesses. Under the law, ridesharing app companies must conduct criminal background checks on driver applicants to ensure their clients’ safety.
However, even the safest drivers still experience accidents from time to time, and this risk is no different for rideshare drivers. For this reason, New York statute NY Veh & Traf L § 1693 requires ridesharing companies and their drivers to carry insurance policies to cover accidents that occur during work hours.
If the driver is not logged into the app, only the driver’s personal insurance is available to compensate victims. If the driver is logged in and awaiting ride requests, the coverage must provide at least $150,000 for bodily injury to, or death of two or more people along with at least $25,000 for property damage. If the driver is completing a ride request, insurance must provide at least $1,250,000 in coverage for each accident for personal injury and property damage. This also applies when drivers are at an airport prior to, or immediately after serving customers.
The three statuses being:
A lawyer can help determine the driver’s status at the time of the accident by filing for discovery during a lawsuit. Regardless of the driver’s status, it is a good idea to have legal help when suing for personal injury. The driver’s insurance does not automatically cover injuries; it only applies if the Uber or Lyft driver was at fault. A lawyer can analyze the situation, come up with the best argument for why the driver was at fault, and negotiate the best possible settlement.
A driver can be found at fault for an accident whether the injured person is a passenger, a pedestrian, or in another car.
Of course, a passenger will almost always have a good case: either against the Uber or Lyft driver if they were at fault, against another driver who was at fault, or perhaps both. Car accident cases can be complicated, and multiple parties can be at fault.
What Will My Insurance Cover in an Accident Involving an Uber Driver?
Whether you are a passenger or another driver, you should consider how your health insurance applies when you’re in an accident with an Uber or Lyft. Depending on your insurance policies, your health insurance may be the primary payer for medical expenses. It is best if you review your policy and understand what medical expenses it will cover in the event of an accident involving an Uber driver.
In addition to the insurance ridesharing drivers have to carry and one’s private health insurance, every driver in New York has to have their own car insurance policy under no-fault laws. Such a policy is required to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits that the insurance companies pay out to cover injuries regardless of fault. Under no-fault laws, cases where PIP benefits are payable limit the right to sue those at fault. This coverage generally applies any time the policyholder is in a car accident, even if they’re a pedestrian or a passenger, and is usually used to pay small claims.
However, New York statute NY Ins L § 5103(b) allows insurers to exclude coverage requirements in cases where the individual is injured while a motor vehicle is being used or operated by a TNC driver, unless the policy is used by a ridesharing service and driver to fulfill the requirements of Article 44-B. This means that you may have to sue for coverage and prove fault of the driver. Additionally, applicable PIP benefits may be the primary or secondary payer in regards to medical expenses, depending upon the terms of your car and health insurance policies.
It is important that you review your insurance policies and the included PIP benefits to know if they are applicable in case of an accident involving an Uber or Lyft vehicle. It is even better if you can hire an experienced personal injury attorney to review the documents and understand if you will receive PIP benefits or have to sue.
Can I Sue My Uber Driver if He Gets into an Accident?
The answer to this question depends on if the driver is at fault, if PIP benefits are payable, and what the insured service has chosen for coverage. If the driver is at fault, then a passenger will either be entitled to PIP benefits or need to file a claim against the driver for damages. As previously mentioned, one must understand whether or not the PIP benefits of their policy will cover the accident because that will determine if one will be able to sue.
If another individual is at fault, then it depends upon their insurance policy. If they do not have coverage or do not have enough to cover damages, a ridesharing service’s policy may pay for the remaining amount. New York statute NY Ins L § 3420[f] allows ridesharing services’ insurance policies to include supplementary uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance. This means that if a passenger is injured in an accident where someone other than the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault, the passenger can still receive compensation if the other driver’s insurance can’t cover the full cost of the injury. However, the compensation amounts vary depending on coverage chosen and the number of people injured in an accident. The coverage chosen can be a part of a personal umbrella policy and/or be a single limit policy, which will affect the maximum compensation amount as shown in the chart below.
No Personal Umbrella Policy
Personal Umbrella Policy
Two or More Victims
Single Limit Policy
It is best to contact Rosenblum Law for a free consultation if injured in a rideshare accident, as the experienced experts at the firm have handled cases involving these statutes and can guide a client in the decision-making process. They can assist in discovering if the ridesharing service has supplementary uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance as a part of their policy, and how it would apply in a particular case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not directly, as insurance companies are generally the entities which will pay for damages caused by policyholders.. New York law does require ridesharing companies to provide insurance for their drivers to compensate accident victims, and these policies should include PIP benefits. These PIP benefits will generally pay for damages unless coverage is denied, in which case, you will have to sue.
Every case is unique and the circumstances of each one will determine who is at fault. Usually, it comes down to understanding who was breaking what rules of the road and how those violations caused the accident. An attorney will be able to analyze a client’s case and present the best arguments for who is at fault.
If you are able to receive PIP benefits, then no, as no-fault laws which require PIP benefits will limit the right to sue. In cases where you cannot receive PIP benefits, then you have the right to sue if the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault. If another driver is at fault, you may sue them instead. Additionally, New York law requires ridesharing companies to provide varying amounts of uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance depending upon circumstances, which would cover the costs associated with any injuries the at-fault driver couldn’t pay for.
If at all possible, remain at the scene of the accident until police arrive to investigate. The investigation will be key to determining who’s at fault for any injuries you suffer, and acting as a witness at the scene will make it easier further down the line. However, if your injuries are too severe, do not hesitate to seek medical treatment first.
If the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault, their insurance will have to cover both your injuries and the damage to your car. If they weren’t picking up a passenger when they hit you, their policy will cover at least $150,000 of bodily injury and $25,000 of property damage. If they were picking up a passenger or already had one in their car, the insurance has to cover at least $1,250,000 of bodily injury and property damage.
If the Uber or Lyft driver is not at fault, there is still a chance that their supplementary uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance will provide some measure of compensation. Of course, this is dependent on the one at fault not being able to provide the full compensation that you are entitled to.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured by an Uber or Lyft?
If you or a loved one have been injured by an Uber or Lyft driver, contact Rosenblum Law for a free, no-obligation consultation today. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can analyze the situation and negotiate the best possible settlement for you. Call 888-815-3649 or email us today.