Ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft, etc. have gained tremendous popularity in and around Clearwater, Florida. However, a number of serious car accidents involving Uber and Lyft drivers have raised concerns about whether these services are actually safe and how these large companies are attempting to circumvent liability by labeling their drivers as “independent contractors.” While some ridesharing companies mention that all of their drivers are able to access up to $1 million in liability insurance coverage, these companies often place strict rules about when these large insurance policies actually apply. As a result, if you are seriously injured in an accident with an Uber driver or Lyft driver, it is extremely important to contact an experienced Clearwater car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.
WHICH INSURANCE POLICY WILL APPLY?
There are several insurance policies which may come into play after a ride sharing accident. Here is a breakdown of each insurance policy:
- The Uber or Lyft Driver’s Personal Insurance – If the crash was caused by the Uber/Lyft driver, then their personal auto insurance policy may be liable to pay for damages. However, many insurance companies are now drafting their insurance contracts to contain a provision referred to as a “business use exception.” This exception disallows claims for bodily injury if the vehicle was being used for-profit. An experienced attorney will always place the driver’s personal insurance on notice of the crash because there is the possibility that person’s insurance will cover accidents arising from the commercial use of the vehicle.
- Your Personal Insurance – As we discussed in our article, “PIP Benefits and How It Impacts Your Personal Injury Case,” your PIP benefits will always be primary when paying your initial medical bills. This does not change if you were in a ride sharing vehicle rather than your own vehicle. Since your PIP insurance is primary, you will need to provide medical providers with your personal auto insurance, and your attorney will also assist with any potential PIP pitfalls.
- The At-Fault Vehicle’s Insurance – If your Uber or Lyft driver was not at fault for the crash, then it is important to file a claim against the other vehicle’s bodily injury insurance to seek compensation for your damages. Unfortunately, drivers in Florida are not required to maintain bodily injury policy limits and you may be unable to recover from the at-fault driver’s insurance. This is an important reason to always maintain Uninsured Motorist coverage on your personal insurance to pay for your damages if injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
- Uber or Lyft’s Company Insurance – The good news is that Uber and Lyft carry liability insurance which allows coverage to passengers injured as a result of their driver’s negligence. The bodily injury portion of these policies are only available after the ride sharing driver’s personal insurance policy has been exhausted or denied. Additionally, the policy limits only apply if the driver of the Uber or Lyft you were in was at-fault, or partially at-fault, for the crash.
Fortunately, if the Uber or Lyft driver was not considered at-fault for the crash, you have another avenue to recover payment for your damages through Uber or Lyft’s Uninsured Motorist coverage. Uber or Lyft’s Uninsured Motorist coverage will apply if the at-fault driver is unknown or does not have sufficient bodily injury insurance to cover your damages.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT?
If you were injured in a ride sharing accident, the most important step is to assess your injuries and seek emergency medical treatment for yourself or others. Many people go into shock after an accident and may be unaware of their injuries until the next day. It is imperative you seek proper medical attention after an accident to ensure your well-being.
The second step you should take is to notify the police that the accident occurred. This allows an investigation to be completed. During the investigation, a police officer will speak with all parties and witnesses, review the property damage, and take record of all parties’ contact and insurance information. The police officer will then provide you with a printout exchanging each person’s information. This is important to provide your attorney in order for the attorney to open claims with the correct insurance information.
Once the officer’s crash report is ready, your attorney will be able to request a copy to review the officer’s determination of liability. While the officer’s crash report is not admissible at trial to prove liability, it will help the insurance companies in their liability investigation. This will allow the insurance companies and your attorney determine which insurance company is primary for paying your damages.
It is imperative you hire an attorney as soon as you possibly can. This will ensure someone is in your corner to fight for your best interests. An attorney will help with opening the insurance claims in order for you to focus on healing from your injuries.
Frequently, insurance companies will make insufficient settlement offers to pay your claims. It is important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit corporations, and their main goal is to save the company money by paying the least amount on insurance claims. Your attorney will be able to strongly advocate for a better settlement amount or proceed with filing a lawsuit against the appropriate parties.
Speak to an Experienced and Respected Car Accident Lawyer in Clearwater Today
If you or someone you know has been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident in Florida, it is important to seek representation by an experienced personal injury attorney. By hiring our firm, our attorneys will fight to maximize your compensation. Please contact us for a free evaluation at (727) 531-2926 or filling out our Quick Contact Form here.