Since 2009, when Uber launched in San Francisco, ride share apps have become extremely popular and are available to take people from Point A to Point B almost everywhere in the world. Uber and Lyft are the two largest ride sharing apps in the world. In 2017, Uber had over 7 million drivers.
No doubt the ride sharing apps have provided a much-needed convenience, but what has their impact been on safety on the roads? On the one hand, Uber and Lyft provide a safe way home for people after a night of drinking, and there is some evidence that these ride share apps have reduced drunk driving. But there is also evidence that links the increased popularity of ride share services to an increase in fatal car crashes. This evidence largely concludes that the increase in cars on the road as a result of Uber and Lyft has increased the number of traffic related deaths.
A more relevant question for many users of these ride share apps is what happens if they get injured in a crash while riding with an Uber or Lyft driver? Or similarly, what happens if they are travelling in another car and are hit by an Uber or Lyft driver? The answer is that these crashes are the same as any other crash as far as determining who is at fault and responsible, but the insurance company that pays the claim may be different.
In any car accident, the person who causes the accident or is to blame is responsible for any injury suffered by other parties. In some states, like Iowa, the owner of the vehicle may also be responsible, and if the driver was working at the time of the crash the driver’s employer may also be responsible. But Uber and Lyft don’t own the vehicles used for the service and they have repeatedly argued that the drivers are not their employees and so it is probably difficult to sue Uber or Lyft for an accident caused by one of their drivers. But that also likely doesn’t matter.
In almost all car accidents, the insurance company for the negligent driver pays any damages caused by the driver. Uber requires all of their drivers to carry car insurance. The driver’s personal auto insurance applies when the driver does not have their app on and is not taking riders. If an Uber driver has the app on and is simply available to drive or waiting for a driver, Uber provides insurance to that driver for injuries in the amount of $50,000 per person or a total of $100,000 per accident. If an Uber driver is traveling to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in the car, Uber provides $1,000,000 in liability insurance.
If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, there are a few things you may want to do:
Get a copy of the police report;
Get any medical care that you need;
Make sure you have the contact information for all of the drivers involved; and
Decide if you want to speak with a car accident injury attorney.
Personal injury claims involving Uber or Lyft drivers can present somewhat complicated insurance coverage questions. It may be beneficial to speak with a car accident injury attorney before deciding how best to pursue your claim for injuries.
If you have questions about an Iowa car accident, please call our office at (319) 826-2250.