Ridesharing services continue to increase in popularity. Ridesharing is a service provided by an individual that uses his/her motor vehicle to drive passengers or property (i.e., Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc.) for compensation on behalf of a Transportation Networking Company. Ridesharing services use cell phone applications to make electronic payments, schedule a ride, track the driver, and connect drivers and passengers smoothly and efficiently. These types of ridesharing services use GPS to provide passengers, drivers, and company transparency. Passengers and drivers can view each other’s location, map the distance to one another, agree on a price, and estimate the likely wait time. The ridesharing service company can track the employees’ service log. With the ease that attributes to becoming a ridesharing service driver, many individuals work for more than one Transportation Network Company (TNC).
Unfortunately, many riders tend to believe that they cannot be involved in an accident. If you are on the road and in a motor vehicle, whether you are the driver or the passenger, you can be in an accident. Drivers of TNCs do not have to meet extensive requirements to be able to obtain employment. Rideshare drivers are trusted with the tasks of transporting a person or property to their destination. There are many times when drivers have to go to unfamiliar areas and tend to look at the GPS or the application frequently. This is dangerous because the well-being of the driver, the passenger, and others on the road are at risk. Those few seconds that one minute the driver’s eyes are off the road can result in an accident, with victims suffering serious injuries. If you were injured in a rideshare accident, consult with a legal professional. Although it might seem as the driver is liable and responsible for the damages you have suffered, depending on your case, it might be more complicated. If you are a ridesharing driver, ridesharing passenger, a pedestrian, or another driver who was injured in an auto accident, it is vital to seek medical attention and retain a knowledgeable auto accident attorney.
Ridesharing Accident Lawyer in Bellingham, WA
The ridesharing service industry is thriving; the applications used by the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) is revolutionizing the vehicle-for-hire market. Matching drivers to potential passengers in real-time creates an efficient service; however, the innovation of the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) is encountering scrutiny. Several accidents and collisions have caused concerns that the service offered by the ridesharing industry is not safe. At the same time, much of the doubt and concern stems from the lack of regulation and laws by the states and the TNCs.
Since there are little regulations in ridesharing drivers, many individuals, such as the passenger, a pedestrian, or another driver, are at a greater risk of suffering from damages if the driver makes an error or has a vehicle malfunction (e.g., faulty brakes). If you have been injured in an auto accident involving a ridesharing service provider, you must act quickly and consult with a legal professional. At PNW Trial Lawyers, we have years of first-hand experience building concrete cases against companies, individuals, and agencies. We understand the immense amount of work required to investigate, analyze, and build a case for a judge and jury. At PNW Trial Lawyers, our attorneys prepare every case with the assumption it will be tried to verdict. This preparation helps us achieve the best possible result in a settlement or trial. Contact us at (360) 483-5201 to schedule a free consultation and strategy session.
Overview of Ridesharing Accidents in Washington
- Insurance Policies & State Requirements
- Who is Responsible in a Rideshare Accident?
- Rideshare Accidents: Victims & Common Injuries
- Additional Resources
Insurance Policies & State Requirements
Washington State has insurance requirements for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and the drivers. The ridesharing service industry has become a popular and efficient way to commute, leaving the traditional cab service industry in the dust. Nevertheless, the biggest concern is what happens when the driver is in an accident. Who pays for the damages? If you were in a ridesharing accident, the process of receiving some form of compensation for your injuries and damages could be complicated. In other words, depending on who is liable, there is coverage available through the ridesharing company and the drivers’ insurance policy.
Ridesharing companies view and treat their drivers as “independent contractors” instead of employees. This allows the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft to escape much of the responsibility in the event of a collision. When an employee of a company causes an accident, employers are generally liable on behalf of their employees. The distinction between “employees” and “independent contractors” allows them to deny liability when their rideshare drivers are involved in an accident. This is because companies are not liable for the actions of their independent contractors.
According to the insurance policies of ridesharing companies, drivers and passengers are only covered when the driver is working. Although it may seem as though it is simple, the term can be complicated. For example, ridesharing drivers may be considered “working” when they have the application active and are waiting for a ride request (phase one). They are also considered to be “working” when they are on their way to pick up a passenger (phase two), or when they have picked up the passenger and are transporting them (phase three). Moreover, depending on the circumstances of the accident (which phase the accident occurred), the policy will only cover a certain amount for bodily injury and property damage.
Companies require every driver to have their own personal insurance policy; nevertheless, at times, the policy is not enough to cover the medical expenses, physical damages, and other injuries sustained because of the accident. Uber and Lyft’s third-party liability insurance policy is applied after the ridesharing driver’s insurance has been exhausted.
Normal insurance policies might not be able to cover drivers while they are working. Ridesharing insurance policy is meant, ridesharing drivers. It provides coverage for any TNC while the application is turned on and even if a rider has not been accepted. The ridesharing insurance policy cover drivers in three different phases and each phase provides limited coverage.
During the first phase, the rideshare driver has the least amount of coverage because their personal insurance will not cover them unless they have commercial insurance, or their personal insurance provides coverage while they are ridesharing. The coverage provided by the TNCs in the first phase is meant to give the driver at least the state minimum coverage for their damages, as long as the application is active. In addition, the first phase does not provide the driver with collision and comprehensive coverage. In other words, if the rideshare driver is involved in an accident before accepting a request, their personal insurance would have to compensate for the damages done to their property (if they have rideshare in their policy) or the driver is responsible for the cost of repairing their vehicle. Also, Lyft and Uber do not offer UM/UIM coverage in the first phase. Therefore, if you were injured by an uninsured driver while you were waiting for a request, you will need your own coverage or insurance policy.
In the second and third phase, there is more liability coverage. However, collision and comprehensive coverage are only conditional. Depending on your TNC, you might be required to pay a deductible. With Lyft and Uber, the collision and comprehensive coverage will only apply after the driver’s personal collision, and comprehensive policy is denied.
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)
Phase 1: Before Accepting a Ride/Waiting for a Request
$50,000 per person for bodily injury
$100,000 per accident for bodily injury of all individuals
$30,000 per accident for property damage
Phase 2 & 3: Accepted Ride Request/Transporting the Passenger and Drop off
$1,000,000 Third-party Liability Coverage
$1,000,000 Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage
Conditional Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
Uninsured (UM)/Underinsured (UIM) Motorist Coverage
Drivers of Uber and Lyft are likely covered by the company’s uninsured motorist coverage (UIM). So, if you were injured as a result of another driver’s negligence who has no insurance or insufficient insurance to properly compensate you for your losses, you may be able to file a claim under the ridesharing company’s uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance coverage. For example, there are situations when the ridesharing driver is not at fault for the accident, and another driver is. In this case, the injured passenger is able to seek compensation for their damages from the at-fault driver. They are able to file a claim through third-party insurance or a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Personal injury protection (PIP) may also be available to injured victims of Uber/Lyft (occupants and pedestrians hit by a ridesharing vehicle). The injured victims may be able to have PIP to cover medical expenses. PIP is coverage provided regardless of who is at-fault for the accident. If you were in a ridesharing accident and sustained damages, it is crucial you speak to a legal professional and know how you can seek compensation for your injuries.
Who is Responsible in a Rideshare Accident?
Determining liability in a rideshare auto accident can be extremely complicated. For instance, if the driver was texting while the accident happened, then the driver is liable due to negligence. However, in the instance that the accident occurred because of a malfunction in the driver’s car or a faulty part, then the manufacturer may be responsible for your damages. There are situations when the accountability of the Transportation Network Company (TNC) needs to be evaluated. Furthermore, the injured victim may have rights under the insurance policies of the ridesharing provider, even if the crash was not caused by the rideshare driver.
Filing a Claim Against a Ridesharing Service Provider/Driver
It is very common for motor vehicle accident victims to file a claim against the driver who caused the collision. If a driver is insured, the insurance company of the at-fault driver usually pays for the damages. In this instance, the claim is against the driver, not the insurance company. However, when the situation involves a ridesharing driver, there is a possibility that the claim is against either the driver, the Transportation Network Company, or both.
Washington State has made it a requirement for drivers to have at least the minimum liability insurance, this pertains to standard motor vehicles, motorcyclists, and even truckers. However, the minimum liability insurance required by law does not cover ridesharing drivers when they are using their personal vehicles for business purposes, in other words, providing driving for-hire services. During the instance that the ridesharing driver has a passenger in their vehicle, their insurance policy does not apply to them. Instead, the driver is covered by the TNC’s insurance policies.
Below are examples of situations in which an injured individual can file a claim against a Transportation Network Company or a Ridesharing provider:
- The passenger was injured due to the negligence of the ridesharing driver.
- Another driver was injured, or the occupants of another vehicle were injured because of the ridesharing driver’s negligence.
- You were a pedestrian or cyclist who was struck and injured by a ridesharing driver.
Below are examples when an occupant may have rights under Uber/Lyft insurance policies for recovery, even if the rideshare driver was not at fault for the accident:
- Passenger was injured in a crash caused by another driver
- Uber/Lyft driver was injured because of the negligence of another driver
Denied Claims & Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the rideshare driver caused your injury, it is possible to file a claim against the rideshare company’s $1 million liability protection policy. However, the circumstances of the accident must adhere to Uber/Lyft company policies. Furthermore, Uber/Lyft can reject your claim on the grounds that their drivers are not employees of the company. Rideshare companies consider their drivers to be “independent contractors.” By considering the driver, an independent contractor, passengers that have been in an accident and sustain injuries find it extremely difficult to get compensation if the rideshare driver was distracted, driving under the influence (alcohol or marijuana), or if the driver was driving recklessly. Another solution for the passenger is that they might be able to seek compensation through the insurance of the rideshare driver. Nevertheless, not many insurance policies providers cover the driver while they are using their vehicles as rideshare services.
If you are a rideshare driver, TNCs require their drivers to have ridesharing insurance with liability, collision/comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In most circumstances, these coverages should be able to protect the driver. Although Lyft/Uber offer different versions of all three coverages, the protection varies depending on whether a passenger is in the vehicle and a lot of the time coverage is conditional. Uber/Lyft have extremely selective insurance policies. They might deny your claim if the circumstances of your accident did not adhere to their policies. If your claim was denied, it is important that you consult with a skilled auto accident attorney.
Rideshare Accidents: Victims & Common Injuries
Transportation Network Companies are different than traditional taxi companies or other transportation services. The service offered by the TNCs allows riders and drivers to connect efficiently. Unfortunately, when a rideshare driver, passenger, pedestrian, or another driver suffers an injury due to a rideshare accident, there can be a lot of hidden expenses besides, property damage and medical bills. A victim can experience loss of income due to their injuries.
Car accidents are devastating, and victims sustain multiple injuries ranging for something as minor as whiplash to as severe as broken bones. Many times, the victims are left with overwhelming feelings of confusion, fear, and pain. It is crucial to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. The process of filing a claim, determining liability, and which insurance policies apply to your individual case can be complicated.
As a passenger, if you were a victim of a rideshare accident, there are various options available to you to seek compensation for your damages. You may have a layer of protection available through the Transportation Network Company’s (TNC) insurance policy. Also, you may have your personal auto liability insurance cover your damages. Furthermore, depending on the circumstances of your accident, the driver’s insurance might apply to your case.
Passengers have coverage under Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) insurance policies. However, there are specific conditions or circumstances for the passenger to be covered under the TNC’s policies. For instance, one of the requirements for the TNCs insurance policies to apply for their driver is that the application must be “active,” therefore, if the driver’s application is off only their personal insurance is effective. At times this creates a serious problem because if the driver is negligent, the passenger may lose all coverage from the rideshare company. The driver can be negligent by not updating the application (indicating the passenger was picked up) or if the application is turned off during the trip. In addition, if the rideshare driver does not have commercial insurance or a personal car insurance policy providing coverage while engaged as a ridesharing driver, then the passenger will not be covered for their injuries.
It is important to consult with a legal professional; they can advise you on how to file a claim. Retaining the help of a legal professional can help guide you after the accident and ensure that you’re compensated for the damages you have sustained because of the accident.
For many individuals, their vehicle is their main source of income. This holds to be true if you are a rideshare driver. Nevertheless, after an accident, it can be difficult to focus on your injuries, when you are thinking about your future expenses and the damages to your vehicle. It is important to focus on your recovery. Attempting to navigate through complex insurance rules and regulations can make it hard to recover. Obtaining an experienced car accident attorney can help you through the insurance policies.
Insurance policies can be complicated when you are a rideshare driver. There are different variables taken into consideration before an insurance policy can be used. For instance, ridesharing insurance coverage depends on whether the ridesharing driver is waiting for a request, on his/her way to pick up a passenger/rider, and during the trip when the passenger has been picked up.
If you were injured in an auto accident because of the negligence of a rideshare driver, you might be eligible to seek compensation either through the at-fault driver or the rideshare provider. Hiring an attorney can help you focus on your recovery, your attorney can investigate the details about your case, and how you can seek compensation to cover your damages.
If you were a pedestrian or cyclist injured by a rideshare driver, you could seek compensation for your injuries. In Washington, Transportation Network Company’s (TNC) are required to have $1 million in liability coverage and in Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Therefore, if you were injured, you can seek compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, etc.
Common Rideshare Injuries
The injuries suffered in a rideshare accident are similar to the injured individuals endure from most car accidents. In rideshare collisions, the driver, passenger, and sometimes another individual can sustain minor to catastrophic injuries. Passengers can suffer injuries by colliding with each other during an accident, or by striking the door or seat in front of them. Below are a few injuries that an individual can sustain in a car accident:
- Fractured Bones
- Sprain Bones (wrist)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Wrongful Death
Disruptive Changes in the Taxi Business: The Case of Uber – Economist Judd Cramer and Alan B. Krueger gathered data from five major cities (Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle) to examine what factors contribute to the increase of Uber drivers. The research paper indicates how taxi drivers have many limitations and inefficient regulations compared to Uber drivers. Furthermore, the paper “examines the efficiency of the ridesharing service,” and how the results indicate that ridesharing service drivers have a passenger in the car “half the time that they have their app turned on.”
Regulation of Transportation Network Companies – The policy guide is provided by the Washington State Joint Transportation Committee and includes local regulations for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) in multiple states. The state has made it mandatory to have liability insurance and a valid state driver’s license for “personal vehicles used for TNC rides.” Furthermore, the police guide includes information and comparison on other jurisdictions as well as “if and how existing regulations address the competitive challenges facing taxis and for-hire services.”
Attorney for Uber/Lyft Accident in Whatcom County, WA
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a ridesharing service, it is crucial to act quickly. Securing the compensation, you need to recover after a motor vehicle accident with a ridesharing service can be difficult. The legal process can be complicated and dealing with injuries while having to resolve an insurance dispute with the liable parties can seem incredibly stressful.
At PNW Trial Lawyers, our attorneys know the system and how it works, and we are dedicated to using our past experience to help individuals receive just compensation for their loss and injuries. We will give you the attention you deserve. The availability of our partners and lawyers to talk to our clients does not end with the initial consultation and is not limited to a few calls throughout the case. We view our clients as our greatest resource in any case, and we will reach out to you to truly learn your story over many meetings and calls. Call us at (360) 483-5201 to schedule a free consultation.