Seattle Uber Car Accident Lawyer & Lyft Crash Attorney

Uber and Lyft drivers now provide millions of rides every day in the United States.  While most of these rides are without incident, unfortunately Uber and Lyft drivers still cause a fair number of vehicle accidents, injuring their own riders, drivers and passengers in vehicles that are hit, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Is Uber or Lyft at Fault When Their Drivers Cause Accidents?

Both Uber and Lyft have taken extreme measures in seeking to have their drivers be deemed as independent contractors under the law.  This means that in most cases, it will be difficult to find Uber or Lyft liable when their drivers cause accidents.

There are, however, some possible exceptions.

Both Uber and Lyft should carefully check the records of their drivers, and should not permit anyone to drive for them who has serious driving issues, such as convictions for drunk driving.  They should also make sure that their drivers have valid driver’s licenses.  Thus it is possible that Uber and Lyft may be liable if they were negligent by allowing dangerous drivers or those who were not properly licensed to take part in their ride share program.

How are the Accidents Caused By Independent Contractors Different than the Accidents Caused By Employees?

Suppose an accident is caused by a FedEx employee while that employee is on duty.  Because it is clear that they employee is working for FedEx at the time of the accident, the employer will also be liable under a legal theory called “respondeat superior.”  “Respondeat Superior” is a Latin term, which, in the context of a vehicle crash, normally means that the driver and the company employing the driver will both be liable for the damages and injuries caused.

This is an important concept, as while a driver may only have minimal insurance coverage, vehicle delivery services (like FedEx and UPS) and governmental municipalities that require employees to drive as part of their job typically have comprehensive insurance programs in place to defend and pay for liability claims resulting from collisions.  (While the federal government does not have separate liability insurance, it too can usually be held accountable for the actions of its employees in causing vehicle crashes, such as a crash caused by a mail carrier).

Independent contractors, however, are not deemed to be “employees” for another company.  Thus under the processes put in place by Uber and Driver, if such companies are not found to be an “employer” of the driver, they are not technically liable for the crashes and injuries of their drivers.

Uber and Lyft Insurance

Although they may or may not technically be liable for driver crashes, Uber and Lyft both have substantial liability policies in place that benefit their drivers in the event of a crash (and also those who may be injured).  Uber, for example, has supplemental policies in place that provide at least $1 million in liability coverage for injuries and damages caused by their drivers while their drivers are either transporting a rider, or on their way to pick up a rider.[1]

Uber’s insurance policies also provider lesser coverage for drivers with “app on,” meaning that they are available to pick up a rider (but are not currently transporting a rider or on their way to pick up a rider).  Such coverages vary by state, but are currently at least in the following minimum coverage limits:[2]

  • $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $25,000 per accident for property damage

Uber’s supplemental insurance coverage does not apply if an Uber driver is not online and available for rides.

As a result of these coverages, as well as the insurance that the driver may have, those who are injured or have lost a loved one due to a crash caused by an Uber or Lyft driver will usually have access to more insurance proceeds than in other crash cases.

[1], as of February 1, 2019.

[2], as of February 1, 2019.

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