California Uber and Lyft Insurance and Laws
Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are more popular in California than in any other state. Every day, thousands—if not millions—of people use Uber and Lyft across California.
While this might make getting around town easier and more convenient, it also means that Uber and Lyft accidents are more common in California. With so many rideshare drivers on the road, rideshare-related accidents are bound to happen.
But do you know your rights as a rideshare accident victim? Most people don’t.
It’s important, however, to understand the laws that govern California rideshare accidents in case you ever find yourself in such a situation. Uber and Lyft insurance policies, for example, are not the same as insurance policies that cover other types of accidents. And it’s important to know these things should you need to file a claim after a rideshare accident to recover damages.
So, let’s dive in to learn more about California Uber and Lyft laws and insurance policies.
California Insurance Law for Rideshare Drivers
Per California’s Proposition 22, Uber and Lyft drivers are not considered official employees. Instead, drivers are treated as independent contractors.
This is an important piece of information to understand because it means that Uber and Lyft drivers are required to carry liability insurance in case an accident occurs. When someone is an employee, their employer is required to carry liability coverage in case of an accident. But when someone is an independent contractor, they must carry their own liability insurance.
There are situations where the rideshare company’s policy would kick in instead of the driver’s—which we’ll get into later. But there are also instances when the Uber or Lyft driver may be fully responsible for a rideshare accident, and if that occurs, their personal liability insurance applies.
For example, if an Uber or Lyft driver is “off the clock”—a.k.a. not actively on the app and working—and they cause an accident, their personal liability insurance would cover the damages of those who were injured.
By law, California requires rideshare drivers to carry minimum liability coverage, which consists of:
- $15,000 for bodily injury per person
- $30,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $5,000 for property damage
California Insurance Law for Rideshare Companies
Though rideshare drivers are not official employees, Uber and Lyft can still be held liable if someone gets injured in an accident involving one of their drivers. As such, California requires Uber and Lyft to carry insurance as well.
According to California Assembly Bill No. 2293, transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft must:
- Maintain a $1 million insurance policy that covers personal injury, property damage, and death
- Provide $1 million in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
- Inform their drivers of insurance coverage and limits of liability that the company provides while the driver is actively working and using the rideshare app
- Inform their drivers that their personal auto policy will not cover them in the event of an accident if they were actively working and using the app
California Laws That Protect Rideshare Passengers
In addition to insurance policies, there are also statewide laws and regulations in place to further protect Uber and Lyft passengers. These laws and regulations, as set forth by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), include:
- Rideshare drivers must clearly display their Lyft/Uber decals on the front and back windshields of their vehicles while actively using the app
- Rideshare drivers must pass an annual background check
- Rideshare vehicles must meet stringent climate emission levels, and rideshare companies must commit to increasing the number of zero-emission vehicles used by their drivers
- Drivers must undergo a vehicle inspection check every 12 months or 50,000 miles
- Rideshare drivers cannot refuse to pick up passengers with service dogs, nor can they request proof that the dog is a service animal as this constitutes discrimination
Uber and Lyft Accidents and Insurance Coverage Policies
Uber and Lyft are major companies, and as such, they have strict guidelines and policies in place to protect them in case something happens. Thus, being involved in an Uber or Lyft accident does not automatically mean either company will take responsibility and be held liable for damages.
Who is responsible and what insurance policy kicks in will depend on what Uber and Lyft refer to as the “driving period”:
- Period 0 “Offline”: This is the period when the rideshare driver is not working or logged into the app and taking requests. If an accident occurs during this period and it is the rideshare driver’s fault, the driver’s personal liability insurance would apply.
- Period 1 “Contingent period”: This is the period when the Uber or Lyft driver is logged into the app, but they have not accepted a ride yet. This means they are neither on their way to pick up a passenger nor do they currently have a passenger in their vehicle. If an accident occurs during this period, Uber or Lyft third-party liability coverage would apply. This includes:
- $50,000 per person for bodily injury
- $100,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
- Period 2 “Active”: This is the period when the rideshare driver is logged into the app and has accepted a ride request, meaning they are either on their way to pick up a passenger or they have a passenger in their vehicle. During this period, Uber or Lyft’s $1 million policy would apply, but only if their driver was at fault.
What Are Your Rights as an Injured Uber or Lyft Passenger?
California is an at-fault state, so if you are injured as an Uber or Lyft passenger, you have the right to file a claim or a lawsuit against the guilty party. If the rideshare driver was at fault while offline, you would file a claim against the rideshare driver.
If you were injured while the Uber or Lyft driver was in period 1 or 2, you can file a claim against the rideshare company’s insurance policy.
If a third-party driver was at fault, you may have the right to pursue a claim both against the rideshare company and the other at-fault driver. If this is the case, Uber or Lyft might ask that the at-fault driver’s policy be exhausted before their policy kicks in.
What Are Your Rights As Another Driver Involved in a Rideshare Accident?
If you are driving and you are involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, you also have rights.
If the rideshare driver was at-fault and driving in period 1 or 2, Uber or Lyft third-party liability coverage would apply. If the rideshare driver was at fault and offline, you would file a claim against the Uber or Lyft driver’s personal insurance policy.
If you were involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, but another driver was to blame, you would file a claim against that driver. However, keep in mind that more than one party can share the blame for an accident. So you could have the right to file a claim against another driver and the rideshare driver and even against Uber or Lyft.
California is also a comparative fault state, which means you could also share in liability but still be eligible to file a claim against another party. In this case, the settlement you are awarded would be reduced based on your percentage of fault. So if you are 20% at fault and are awarded a $50,000 settlement by another party’s insurance, you would only receive $40,000.
Why It’s Important to Hire an Uber or Lyft Accident Lawyer
Though laws and insurance are protecting those who might be injured in a rideshare accident, handling these cases can be complex. You will need to make sure sufficient evidence is provided to ensure that the right party is held accountable.
There could also be multiple parties involved and at fault, which could make the case even more challenging. And even if you do discover that Uber or Lyft are liable, getting them to pay the full and fair settlement you deserve can also be difficult.
For these reasons, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has experience handling Uber and Lyft accident cases. They will know the ins and outs of rideshare accident laws and can ensure your rights are protected.
Contact a Qualified San Francisco Uber and Lyft Accident Attorney
Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers can handle the complicated legal issues involved in your claim so that you can put all of your focus and energy into recovering from your injuries. With a trustworthy, experienced California Lyft accident attorney by your side, there is no reason to worry and stress about your situation.
We Handle Your Rideshare Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After sustaining injuries in an Uber accident, consult with the personal injury attorneys at Sally Morin Law. We truly care about the people of California and those who visit our beautiful state.
Contact us today for a free online case evaluation, or call 833-SALLY-SF.