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Who May Have to Pay for Injuries Suffered in a Rideshare Accident?

With the widespread popularity of rideshare carriers like Uber and Lyft comes a greater likelihood that these vehicles will be involved in traffic accidents. Rideshare passengers as well as occupants of other vehicles may be among the victims. The question of who bears responsibility for compensating victims for their injuries and costs is complicated, as there are multiple parties and insurers with different levels of financial exposure.

The first thing to keep in mind is that in Massachusetts, the no-fault insurance law only allows lawsuits against other drivers if the accident results in severe harm. An injured person must first obtain compensation from their own insurance policy’s personal injury protection (PIP), which covers medical expenses, lost wages and household services replacement.

For damages that exceed PIP coverage, the injured party can seek recourse from the following parties:

  1. Rideshare driver — The driver can be held liable if his or her negligent conduct is found to have directly contributed to the accident. This conduct could consist of distracted driving, impaired driving or any other behavior that breaches the duty of care to passengers and other road users. The driver’s personal automobile insurance is then implicated.
  2. Rideshare company — Although drivers carry out duties for the rideshare company, they are not employees but independent contractors. As such, the company is not automatically responsible for a driver’s negligence that may have contributed to the accident. Nevertheless, Uber and Lyft carry liability insurance that will pay out in certain circumstances.
  3. Other drivers Involved — In multi-vehicle accidents, other drivers may be liable for damages to the extent they contributed to the accident through their actions or negligence.

Despite rideshare drivers being classified as independent contractors, both Uber and Lyft provide insurance coverage for them. The amount of coverage depends on the particular level of rideshare activity at the time of the accident, which is defined in “periods” as follows:

  • Period 1 — If the driver is logged into the rideshare app but has not yet accepted a ride, Uber and Lyft limit coverage to $50,000 per person and $100,000 total liability per accident.
  • Period 2 — If the driver has accepted a trip and is on the way to the pick-up location, the liability coverage limit increases to $1 million.
  • Period 3 — If a customer has already been picked up, there is liability coverage of up to $1 million.

When the rideshare driver is not actively logged into the rideshare app, no company coverage is provided.

A skilled auto accident attorney can determine the extent to which injuries can be compensated, analyzing the causes of the accident and the relative fault of those involved.

If you have been hurt in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle, the attorneys at Feinberg & Alban PC in Boston and Brookline can work to get you the optimal compensation available. Call us today at 617-232-5950 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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