What If I'm Injured While Driving an Uber or Lyft?
What if I'm Injured While Driving an Uber or Lyft?
If you drive for Uber or Lyft, an accident could threaten your livelihood - especially if you’re severely injured. You might assume that the rideshare company will help pay for your injuries, but these companies have a history of trying to avoid driver injury claims.
Sure doesn’t seem fair, does it? Here you are, advertising their brand and even using your car to provide their services, and they resist helping you in a time of need!
Here’s the good news: You may be able to make a successful claim for compensation if you handle it right. Let’s look at what happens after you’re injured while driving for Uber or Lyft.
You’re an Independent Contractor
Unlike a taxi driver or bus driver, a rideshare driver is someone who drives their personal vehicle. Uber and Lyft view their drivers as non-employee independent contractors, although this view has been controversial.
Previously, California enacted a new gig work law that attempted to classify rideshare drivers as “presumed employees.” However, in November 2020, California passed Proposition 22, which keeps rideshare drivers as independent contractors in our state.
This somewhat shields companies like Uber and Lyft from injury claims. Because you are an independent contractor and not an employee, they don’t have to pay worker’s compensation for an injury. You will need to pursue an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against someone who hurt you. Below, we’ll explain more about how that works.
Liability Impacts Whether Uber Will Pay
Whether or not Uber will help pay for your injuries likely depends on whether or not you were liable for the accident. If you were liable for the accident, Uber will likely resist paying.
There’s also no guarantee insurance will cover it, if you’re liable for the accident. Although the state of California and the rideshare companies require drivers to have auto insurance, coverage isn’t absolute. It depends on the details of the partner policy from Allstate, Progressive, Liberty Mutual, or whichever you selected.
Whether you believe you’re liable or not, you should start by reporting the injury to Uber or Lyft using their reporting system. As a driver, if you fail to do this you’re breaching the terms and conditions for drivers.
You might be worried that an accident could harm your driver rating, and this is a valid concern. But if you don’t report the injury to the rideshare company, the insurance will almost certainly deny a claim.
How Insurance Works in an Uber Accident
When you are working for Uber and are in an accident, your Uber auto insurance policy can potentially cover the majority of your financial losses including your medical bills, car damage, and more. However, you may also need to seek additional compensation from another party's insurance company.
If the other driver has insurance and is at fault for the accident, you may be able to recover some or all of your costs from that insurer. Expect their insurance company to try to minimize your claim and seek the assistance of a talented Uber lawyer who knows the games insurance companies try to play.
If the other driver only has very minimal insurance, it will probably not be enough to cover all of your losses. At this point, your choice will be to eat the loss, pursue your personal insurance or Uber insurance even more diligently to try to get them to pay, or file a personal injury lawsuit.
If a Rideshare Driver is Liable For an Accident, Does Uber Offer Any Type of Injury Coverage?
When a rideshare driver is at fault for an accident that occurs while using the Uber app, Uber does not automatically cover anything other than third-party liability. That means they may cover injures to other people, but not the driver. To understand Uber’s stance on this matter, it may be best to read word-for-word from their injury protection statement:
The rideshare insurance maintained by Uber insures Uber partners for bodily injury and property damage liability to third parties resulting from a covered accident, such as your riders, people in other vehicles, pedestrians, or property.
This makes it crystal clear that Uber is not offering first-party protection for the driver if a driver is at fault for the accident. The focus is entirely on third-party coverage.
However, Uber also offers optional injury protection that costs $.0375 per mile while on a covered trip. The driver is only charged for the miles while on a trip, but the coverage also extends to the online-but-waiting periods drivers frequently experience in the course of daily driving.
With optional injury protection, the premium is automatically deducted from a driver's earnings. Uber never defines this "covered trip" to include a situation where the Uber driver is at fault, but based on the information on their website and their other coverages, one would assume this is coverage for all accidents regardless of fault.
Uber optional injury protection includes:
- Accident medical expenses up to a maximum of $1,000,000 with no deductible or copay
- Temporary total disability up to a maximum of $500 per week
- Continuous total disability up to a maximum of $500 per week
- Accidental death up to a maximum of $50,000
- Survivor benefits up to a maximum of $150,000
- Accidental dismemberment up to a maximum of $200,000
This brings up numerous other questions about related issues that arise after an accident. What else happens to Uber drivers who are injured while driving for the company but are at fault for the accident? Will Uber penalize them? Are there warnings? Does it impact their driver ratings?
These questions are difficult to answer. When you look at discussions among Uber drivers on Reddit, an online discussion forum, it seems that Uber will deactivate the driver's account and ask the driver to provide something to prove that the vehicle is still drivable enough to carry a passenger. This seems consistent with the accident reporting page on Uber's website. Reddit posters also shared stories about multiple accidents - for example, if a driver has three accidents within three years, Uber may lower the driver’s star rating significantly or deactivate the driver's account.
What Role Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) Play in a Rideshare Accident?
California requires uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which is commonly called UIM. This covers you if you are in an accident with a driver who does not have any liability insurance or is underinsured. An insurance company must offer you this coverage, although you can sign a waiver to opt-out of UIM.
Whether or not an Uber driver is eligible for UIM bodily injury coverage depends on the status of the app. If the driver is en route to pick up a passenger or has a passenger on board, the driver can tap into the Uber UIM coverage that would also be available for the passenger. However, if the driver is simply waiting for a ride request, UIM coverage through Uber is not available.
From the perspective of a lawyer, making your way through a UIM claim can take a significant amount of time and Uber drivers should be prepared for a process that tests their patience. An Uber driver may not see a dollar until the full claim, including claims from passengers, resolves. Don’t expect immediate money from Uber, Uber’s insurance, or any other insurance carrier that may be involved.
We’d also point out that Uber UIM coverage varies from state to state and in California, we have a $1 million UIM policy mandated by state law. However, there is no mention of a combined single limit. We would assume that this acts as a combined single limit and any UIM policy proceeds will be shared among everyone in the vehicle.
So if an Uber driver carries personal UIM coverage on their auto policy, there is some debate on whether or not it would cover anything as a secondary UIM. Most personal auto insurance policies deny any coverage for the driver while they are using the Uber app unless the driver has a rideshare policy or endorsement. Unfortunately, it appears that this is another large gap in insurance, as an Uber driver may be critically injured while driving yet receive a fraction of the settlement proceeds without any ability to tap into UIM coverage on their personal policy.
Additional Factors That May Apply to Your Situation
Here are a few more things to keep in mind. Rideshare companies are hoping people choose to call you instead of driving drunk. However, as an Uber or Lyft driver, you can still be impacted by drunk driving. Did your injuries arise from a drunk driver hitting your car? You may have a strong case for compensation.
Distracted driving is also a huge issue in California and across the nation. Some people just can’t keep their eyes on the road due to their smartphone, food, pet, music, passengers, or a million other distractions.
You may have also heard about a new trend in rideshare driving: driverless Ubers. Some of these vehicles have been involved in high-profile auto accidents and deaths right here in California. This is an evolving aspect of the law, so consult with an accident attorney if a driverless Uber or Lyft vehicle was involved in your injury.
Rideshare Drivers Can Obtain Fair Compensation
As an injured rideshare driver, it falls on your shoulders to collect and present evidence that persuades the insurance company to pay an amount that's appropriate and adequate to compensate you for your losses. Accomplishing this - especially while recovering in a hospital - can be extremely challenging.
If you were injured in an Uber accident or Lyft accident, it’s worth requesting a no-obligation free consultation with an experienced rideshare accident lawyer. It’s the best way to start the road to recovery from your injuries and get you back on the road as a rideshare driver.
"Could not be happier with my experience. Physically injured, anxiety riddled, and emotionally exhausted post accident- I could not have pushed through the accident aftermath alone. Their support was unmatched and I am so grateful for the empathic communication, strong legal presence, direct functioning, and assistance in finding solutions. I didn't understand anything about my accident, medical insurance, or obtaining legal support- Annie (and Carmen!) made things happen in a way that helped me understand and work through the post accident insanity. I couldn't be happier with having chosen them to represent me."
We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including rideshare accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.
We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.