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Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are growing exceptionally popular, especially in the suburban areas around Philadelphia. But drivers’ roles as independent contractors for the transportation companies make it hard to tell where your recovery will come from when your Uber or Lyft crashes. Find out what you should do to protect yourself and your insurance claim after a rideshare car accident.
Uber and Lyft drivers’ identities are protected in the app. Usually, when you book a rideshare you will only have a picture of your driver and their first name. But that’s not enough to file a lawsuit after an Uber accident. When a car accident happens, don’t rely on the app. Insist on taking pictures of every driver’s operating license and vehicle license plate. That way you will have the information you need if it turns out you or one of your fellow Uber passengers need to file an insurance claim or lawsuit later on.
Pennsylvania rideshare law gets a little technical when it comes to who is covered after an Uber or Lyft accident. State law requires every rideshare driver to maintain a valid driver’s license and basic liability insurance, but the state minimums are very low: $15,000 per person or $40,000 per accident in injury benefits and $5,000 to cover property damage. The medical costs of most serious auto accidents will be far higher. Where you can turn for benefits depends on your own insurance choices, and whether the driver was on the clock when the accident happened.
Pennsylvania uses a “choice no-fault” insurance program. Residents and drivers can choose whether to purchase a “no fault” or “liability” insurance policy. “No fault” insurance covers that person’s injuries up to a cap no matter who caused the accident. If you had a no-fault insurance policy when you got into the Uber car accident, you will need to turn to your own insurance first, before looking to the drivers or the rideshare company.
State law requires rideshare companies to maintain excellent insurance companies to cover their drivers, but those policies only apply while the Uber and Lyft drivers are on the clock. If the driver was not working at the time of the crash, anyone injured will have the same options as any other driver where there is no rideshare involved.
Rideshare companies’ insurance begins to kick in once the drivers turn on their app to “go to work”. But there is often downtime between fares. If a rideshare driver is in an accident while on the clock but not on assignment, Uber and Lyft each have a “contingent” policy that will cover up to $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident in personal injury claims.
Once a driver accepts a fare, the company-provided insurance increases. If you are injured as an Uber of Lyft passenger, and your driver gets into an accident, you may have access to the $1 million supplemental insurance policies each company is required to carry.
Auto insurance policies often demand notice of potential claims within days of the accident. Even if you don’t know the extent of your injuries, or which insurance company will end up paying the benefits, you should file notices of claims with:
You can always withdraw your claim later if it turns out another insurance applies, but if you miss the deadline to file your notice, you may not receive your full benefits. That is why it is so important to speak to an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Just because you were in an Uber or Lyft when the accident happened doesn’t mean you can collect liability damages from the company’s insurance. First, as in any auto accident, you and your attorney will need to determine who was at fault for the accident. This starts with the police report, but often you will need to hire an expert to reconstruct the crash and determine just what happened to cause your injuries.
While minor injuries can often be covered by an Uber driver’s liability insurance, in more severe cases you may need to turn to uninsured or underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits to make up the difference between their coverage and your medical bills. UIM policies apply after the at-fault driver’s insurance has been exhausted, so you won’t be able to take advantage of Uber or Lyft’s $1 million UIM policies unless you and your accident lawyer can prove who was at fault and the extent of your injuries.
Collecting insurance benefits after an Uber accident can be complicated. Navigating the different policies, and proving who was at fault requires a clear picture of what happened, who was involved, and whether your Uber or Lyft driver was on the clock during the crash. At Berman & Associates, our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you immediately after the Uber car accident. We will help identify the parties, file the proper claims, and gather the proof you will need to get the compensation you deserve. We welcome you to contact us to speak with us about how we can help with your auto accident case.
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