Wondering what to do if Injured in a Car Accident with Uber or Lyft?

Ride share programs are very convenient and growing in popularity, but what happens if you are in an accident involving Uber or Lyft in the Chicago area? The rules are a little bit different than they are with most auto accident cases and the answer will also depend upon whether you were in an accident as a passenger,  if you were driving your own car and were hit by an Uber or Lyft, if you were the Uber or Lyft driver, or were hit as a pedestrian.

The number of insurance policies available to you, which ones to use and when is complicated. The actual policies themselves that are maintained by Uber and Lyft are complex, but the good news is that as an innocent pedestrian, passenger or as the driver of another car (assuming it wasn’t your fault) who gets hurt in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft, there should be at least one avenue of recovery available to compensate you for your medical bills and other losses. The bad news is that everyone is going to want to limit their exposure and pay out as little as possible, if they even take responsibility for having caused an accident in the first place.

Accidents for Uber or Lyft Passengers

If you were a passenger in an Uber or a Lyft and were hurt in a car accident, you might not know exactly how the accident happened. Most ride sharing passengers usually  ride in the backseat and don’t pay much attention to what is happening on the road. After all, we leave the driving to the Uber / Lyft driver and assume that we will safely arrive at our destination. As is the case in any personal injury case following a car crash, the injured person needs to prove fault. Uber and Lyft cases are no different. It is possible that the driver of car that hit the one you are riding in was actually at fault and your Uber or Lyft driver did nothing wrong. Or maybe your driver was at fault for the accident. It could even have been the fault of both drivers.  As the accident is investigated, a more clear picture of what happened should become apparent but until you know how the accident happened, your attorney should keep all avenues open for recovery against both drivers.

Assuming that your Uber or Lyft driver was at fault for the accident, and that you got hurt, there are a few different options that may be available to you. All drivers are legally required in the State of Illinois to have car insurance on their vehicles and Illinois does set minimums for ridesharing drivers. There is also additional insurance coverage that Uber or Lyft has on behalf of their drivers. Uber of Lyft will also have an uninsured or underinsured policy in place that can cover you in some circumstances even if your own driver was not at fault.  The Uber and Lyft policies in place when a passenger is being carried exceed the minimum requirements in the State of Illinois and are typically one million dollars in liability coverage and another one million for underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage.

Keep in mind, however, that Uber and Lyft does not classify their drivers as employees since they are using their own vehicles, set their own hours, don’t receive benefits and do not have a boss to report to. On the other hand, these drivers would not have work if not for the company’s app pairing them up with a rider in need of services. This employee versus not an employee classification is an important distinction to make in terms of how the claim will need be approached by your attorney. Since your driver doesn’t technically work for Uber or Lyft, until a court decides otherwise, these companies can deny responsibility for the accident. If given the choice, Uber and Lyft would rather not have to pay out to injured passengers. The flip side is that the driver’s individual insurance policy may also try to deny coverage for the accident because the driver was working at the time. There can definitely be a lot of finger pointing between parties and their insurance company-  even more so than in a regular accident, making it especially important to have an attorney working on your behalf to make sure that the correct party or parties are held responsible.

Riding in an Uber or Lyft as Part for Work

You might have a workers compensation claim if you were riding as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft for work purposes. While this adds an additional layer of complexity, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may wish to consider this additional component of your car accident case.

What to Do After an Uber  or Lyft Accident as a Passenger

The nice thing about using ride- sharing programs like Uber or Lyft is that there is a record about your trip. In your own app, the date, times and routes are preserved as well as the name of your driver. There is additional information gathering that you should do right away including collecting the driver’s insurance coverage information. This information usually appears in the driver’s app below the waybill (the driver’s app).

If the police come to the scene and ask you questions, it is important that you just be completely honest. If you really don’t know what happened, don’t automatically corroborate the story of your driver, just to be nice or because you assume that your Uber or Lyft driver knows what happened. It always is better for you to tell the truth and after all, there is nothing wrong with being asleep or distracted if you are just a passenger. Oftentimes, the only information that you can offer is letting the police know who you are and whether or not you have been hurt. If you are feeling any pain at the scene of the accident, it should be documented by the reporting officer.

After your Uber or Lyft accident,  it is common sense to get immediate medical attention if you got hurt and need to be checked out. This is not the time to worry about the feelings of your driver. Obviously, you won’t have your car with you but you may be in a situation where you can call someone to come pick you up. If you need ambulance, let the police officer know so that one can be called for you. Your physical well being should come above all else.

Accidents if you were Driving for Uber or Lyft

Driving for Uber and Lyft has become very popular and can be a great way to supplement your income, but the extra time on the road carries with it the risk that at some point or another, you will get into a car accident. If you were hurt as an Uber or Lyft driver, you are probably wondering who is responsible in terms of compensating you for your injury and losses. You cannot claim Workers Compensation because as an Uber or Lyft driver, you are not an employee of the company and were using your own vehicle at the time.  But what if you just want to hold the other driver responsible for your injuries? Legally, it will work pretty much the same as it would in any car accident if the other driver was responsible and insured.

Pedestrian Accidents involving Uber or Lyft

If you were hit by a car that was being used as an Uber or Lyft, you may be confused about who to hold responsible for your injuries. Do you go after the Lyft or Uber driver themselves or do you go after Uber / Lyft directly? The simple answer is probably both but as you’d expect with any personal injury claim, who is responsible depends upon the circumstances of the accident. Uber and Lyft drivers are not employees, so the claim will work a little different than it would if you were hit by a FedEx truck. While Uber and Lyft carry one million dollar policies, they may try to deny a claim since the drivers do not actually work for the company. The drivers themselves, as with all drivers on the roadway, are required by the State of Illinois to carry minimum car insurance. Most Lyft and Uber drivers, if they are smart, actually carry more than what is required of them. The rules that apply to your accident will also vary depending upon whether the driver who hit you was actually on duty at the time. If the driver was not on duty, the Uber or Lyft insurance policies won’t matter as you will have to pursue the driver individually, just as you would against someone who never uses their car for Uber or Lyft. Did you notice any passengers riding in the car, or did you just see the Uber/Lyft sticker displayed and assume that the driver was on duty? Any passengers will hopefully be listed on the police report as possible witnesses but it is still very possible that they didn’t see what happened and were reading, playing on their phones, or sleeping when the car hit you. While it sounds complicated, your attorney will be able to determine what needs to be done and assist in gathering all of the facts.

Accident when the Other Driver was an Uber or Lyft Driver

You may have been driving or a passenger in a car when you had an accident where the other vehicle was an Uber or a Lyft, often identified by the stickers on the windshield. While Uber or Lyft does maintain million dollar insurance policies, whether or not these policies will be available to you if you were injured by them depends upon whether or not the driver was driving for personal reasons or not at the time. Was the Uber or Lyft driver on their way to buy groceries or were they on their way to pick up a fare? Did they have a passenger in the car or were they on the road waiting to be directed to someone in need of a ride? If the driver of an Uber or Lyft car was driving for personal reasons at the time, their private insurance policy would be the only one available to provide coverage, assuming of course, that they were primarily at fault for causing the accident. Having an accident with an Uber or a Lyft can add several layers of complexity to what can already be a legally complicated situation. Your focus should not have to be on the logistics of who should be responsible and how, but rather to provide these facts to your attorney and let him or her deal with it.

Should I talk to an Attorney after an Uber of Lyft Accident?

Depending on how seriously you were hurt, you may or may not need an attorney, but it is good to know your options. Don’t let the rideshare company run the show if you were hurt by an Uber or Lyft accident. As you can see, who to hold responsible for your injuries and which insurance or combination of insurances to use is far from clear-cut. Handled incorrectly, you could be faced with a lot of unnecessary stress and also end up with an outcome that doesn’t compensate you or just doesn’t cover everything that it should for you. Following an accident involving Uber or Lyft, give us a call at 630 250-8813 for a no-obligation strategy session, or even if you just have a few questions. It is our mission to help seriously injured people deal with the legal aspect of their accidents.

Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.