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Ride-Sharing Accidents and Their Effect on Consumers

With the sharing economy on the rise, ride-sharing companies are becoming equally as popular. Ride-sharing allows a driver to share a seat in their car with someone for a small fee. Specifically, transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, provide a technological platform that connects drivers with customers who are seeking a ride. With their rise in popularity, TNCs are constantly faced with problems relating to their insurance.

Most individuals are using ride sharing companies on a much more frequent basis. However, many of those people are unsure about what to do if they are involved in an accident. With the influx of users and consumers, more problems are becoming apparent with these companies. The biggest problem that is yet to be solved is who is liable for damages in the event of a ridesharing accident. Ride sharing companies have rules about this, as do insurance companies, but there is still a lot of gray area, despite ride sharing becoming a part of our daily lives.

A driver for a TNC will have his or her own personal insurance coverage and whatever coverage is included with their ridesharing contract. If the driver is in an accident and the rider is injured, the plaintiff may have a difficult time collecting on his or her injuries. This arises when a consumer uses the cheaper alternative ride (i.e. UberX). Because any regular person can drive for UberX, the driver will use his or her own car—and own insurance policy. Under their contract, drivers are not required to obtain commercial liability insurance. So, if an UberX driver gets into an accident, an insurance company has the ability to deny the claim.

When in an accident, it appears that a consumer (the rider) is covered under a TNC’s commercial insurance regardless of when the accident occurs. Most of the TNCs, such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, claim to possess $1 million liability insurance policies. While this sounds great for the consumer, there are gaps in this coverage.

A driver’s insurance has the potential to cover three phases of the driving. The first phase is when the driver is not logged on to the app and not using his or her car for commercial purposes. The second phase is when the driver is logged onto the app and searching for rides. The third and final phase is when the driver has picked up and is transporting the rider. TNCs continue to operate without properly insuring these phases, particularly phase one. However, there are currently personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death suits being litigated in state courts that will test the limits of the existing TNC policies.

For consumers, the question remains: What to do if you are in a ride sharing accident? Between 2014 and 2016, for-hire vehicle crashes more than tripled. Ride sharing insurance can help bridge the gap, but currently less than 25% of drivers have purchased it. If you are in a ride sharing accident, whether you are the driver or rider, you need to be prepared.

First, you must assess the situation and ensure the safety of everyone involved. Drivers should then move the car out of traffic and alert the proper authorities as to the accident. A rider should gather as much information as possible about the driver, including the company the driver works for, contact information, and insurance information.

Next, it is important to be educated on the current state of the law in your area. It is beneficial to research the laws of the area where the accident occurred and determine the extent of the coverage available to the driver or rider. Along with research, it is important to consider the options of pursing a claim against the driver and/or TNC. Legal claims can be time-consuming and expensive but are often necessary based on the severity of the injuries. It is also important to complete accident claims based on possible medical costs, property damage, and the like.

Finally, it may be necessary to consult an attorney. Oftentimes, navigating the legal side requires a professional and can be especially difficult if the rider is seriously injured. An attorney has the knowledge and ability to help an individual receive claims from ride sharing and insurance companies. An experienced personal injury attorney is also an excellent resource to utilize for the fluid state of the law as it relates to ride-sharing and insurance companies. If you have any questions about car accidents, personal injury law, tort law, damages, or other legal incidents, please contact our offices. You may schedule a free consultation with an experienced professional today. Call 978-225-9030 during business hours or complete a contact form online.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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