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Rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, are relatively new methods of transportation.   Generally, personal motor vehicle insurance policies do not cover vehicles that are used for work, in this case for a rideshare service. Surprisingly, laws that govern taxi companies do not necessarily apply to rideshare service companies.  So how are Uber/Lyft liable for injuries as the result of an accident?

The Insurance Policies:

In New York State, all vehicles on the road are required to be insured, including vehicles used for rideshare services.  In addition to the Uber/Lyft vehicle being insured, the Uber/Lyft company has its own insurance policy, which could compensate for injuries sustained as a result of an accident.  Uber and Lyft each have at least one-million-dollar liability policies for each accident.  Additionally, if other vehicles are involved in the accident and they are at-fault, they should also have auto insurance policies to cover injuries.   If you’re in a situation where the combined bodily injury policies are unable to cover all the damages in the accident, you may be able to access your underinsured policy, if you have one.

Injured as a Passenger:

The difference between being injured as a passenger in a rideshare from any other car accident is there is an additional insurance policy purchased by the rideshare corporation, which may provide coverage for injures.  This policy will protect passengers when the at-fault vehicle fails to have insurance coverage or enough insurance coverage to compensate for all injuries.  Currently, Uber provides $1.25 million dollars in additional liability coverage per accident. [Sidebar: You must be a passenger who is purchasing the rideshare service. Driver’s personal passengers are covered under the driver’s personal insurance policy.]

Injured by a Rideshare Vehicle in another Vehicle:

If the vehicle is not being used for personal use by the rideshare driver, but the driver has not yet accepted fare (the rideshare driver has no passengers), then the primary insurance is the driver’s personal insurance policy.  Rideshares offer additional insurance, usually up to $50,000.00 per injury, where the driver’s insurance cannot adequately compensate.

However, once the rideshare has accepted fare, injuries sustained as a result may be covered by the additional liability insurance policy.

Lastly, if you are injured by a rideshare vehicle that is used solely for personal purposes, the rideshare’s insurance policy will not cover your injuries.

Do I Need an Attorney?:

Aside from the regular advantages there are to hiring an attorney to represent you in your personal injury case, it is more important to have an attorney when dealing with injuries involving a rideshare service.  In these cases, there is additional evidence required to show whether the rideshare service was providing services at the time of the incident.  Proving this fact will depend on whether the injuries will be covered by the additional liability insurance.  Without a proper showing of this, the personal policy may be the only policy accessible.  This can be extremely damaging in cases where there are multiple injured parties and serious injuries that are not adequately covered by an individual’s personal insurance policy amounts. Knowing where the evidence exists and knowing when and how to request preservation of documents, records and other evidence can make all the difference in your case. An attorney skilled in handling accidents involving rideshares will better protect your rights.

Furthermore, rideshare services consider their drivers to be independent contractors. This means that where there are accidents caused by more than general negligence, and are caused by drinking, distracted, or reckless driving, the rideshare insurance policy may not cover injuries as a result of this type of accident.  An attorney skilled in handling accidents involving rideshares will better protect your rights.

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving Uber, Lyft, or any other rideshare service, please schedule a complimentary thirty-minute consultation with the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., (631) 343-7676.

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