Ridesharing is growing in popularity as the years go on. Being able to hitch a ride for a few dollars and just by using an in-phone app is simply convenient, especially in major cities like Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles. But as ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft increase in use, the number of ridesharing accidents will inherently increase as well.
If you’re ever hurt in a ridesharing accident as a passenger using an app, do you know who could be liable for your injuries? Even if you only use a ridesharing app every once in a while, it still helps to know ahead of time how a ridesharing accident claim might unfold.
Possible Liable Parties in a Ridesharing Accident
If your ridesharing accident is caused by another motorist on the road who hits your driver, then that motorist would likely be held accountable for your injuries. Car accident insurance policies place caps on injuries, counting both one or more injured parties. If you were in an Uber or Lyft with a couple of other riders, then the damages you receive could be limited by the other driver’s insurance cap. At that point, your own underinsured motorist coverage could trigger and help provide any gaps in damages not yet paid.
On the other hand, if the driver of your rideshare vehicle causes the accident, then the liability issue of your claim could look much different. You might not be filing a claim just against your driver’s insurance policy, but also against Uber, Lyft, or whatever rideshare company was technically employing that driver.
Uber and Lyft, in particular, have been in the news throughout the years for trying to distance themselves from their drivers as much as possible. In case after case, Uber has argued that drivers who use their app are independent contractors at best, which would keep them from becoming liable for car accidents they cause. Uber drivers see it differently, though, and argue that there are enough job requirements to become an Uber driver that they need to be classified as employees. If that is true, then accidents Uber drivers cause can be reflective of employer negligence.
It is important to not take Uber’s argument as objective truth, either. For as much as they want to say they are not financially responsible for their drivers, they have settled injury claims filed by riders in the past for fair sums. You should always speak with a car accident attorney first before deciding to pursue a claim or not.
Why Would Uber Be Responsible for a Driver?
Employers have a responsibility to reasonably protect patrons who use their services from harm caused by their employees. This responsibility is true in essentially any industry, and it can extend to the rideshare industry if rideshare drivers are named as employees, not contractors. But how would that place specific liability on Uber, Lyft, or another ridesharing company?
A rideshare company could assume some liability for a crash if the driver was:
- Not trained or vetted: Rideshare companies should only allow safe, experienced drivers to use their apps. Inexperienced drivers or drivers with a DUI history, for example, should be carefully vetted and potentially prohibited from using the app as a driver.
- Distracted by the app: In order to pick up new fares and follow the quickest route to their destinations, rideshare drivers need to keep the corresponding smartphone app running at all times. This action alone is distracting by nature. To this end, it can be argued that rideshare companies are intentionally contributing to driver distractions that can cause crashes.
When in Doubt, Have a Lawyer Sort It Out
Liability in any car accident can be a tricky subject. The matter only gets more complicated when ridesharing is involved. Do not try to sort through the details all on your own, especially if you do not have a background in liability law. It is always better to leave the legalities up to a legal professional.
Injured rideshare passengers in Chicago can turn to McHargue & Jones, LLC. Our law firm was established in 2000, and we have grown our reputation for success and client satisfaction ever since. Call (312) 487-2461 to learn the first steps in filing a rideshare accident claim.