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Rideshare Liability: What To Do In A Car Accident

Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft offer people a convenient way to get around town without owning a vehicle. But there are some things you need to know about how these services work.

First, it's important to understand what happens when someone uses one of these services. When you summon a ride, the app connects you with a driver who picks you up within minutes. You pay the fare directly to the driver, rather than the company. And since the company isn't involved in the transaction, it doesn't collect money from you. Instead, it pays the driver through the app.

But here's where things can go wrong. If something does happen during the trip, both parties could face legal consequences.

For example, if you're injured because of a problem with the service, you could sue either the driver or the company. If the driver is negligent — meaning he or she wasn't paying attention while driving — you could hold him or her personally responsible for damages. On the other hand, if the company is negligent, you could use it for injuries caused by the driver.

To protect yourself against potential lawsuits, make sure you agree on terms with the driver before getting into the car. Make sure you read the fine print and sign off on everything. Also, don't accept drinks or drugs from anyone else in the car.

Another thing to consider is insurance coverage. Both the driver and the company must carry personal injury protection (PIP). This covers medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, PIP won't cover damage to property, including cars and homes.

Finally, remember that you're still legally liable for anything that happens to others while riding in your car. So if someone gets hurt because of a problem with your service, you could be held accountable.

What is a Rideshare Company?

Rideshare companies (also known as transportation network companies, peer-to-peer ridesharing, or ridesharing companies) offer consumer-facing services that connect riders with drivers who are willing to provide those services. In addition to providing access to a pool of drivers, rideshare companies often offer discounts to riders and/or drivers. Rideshare companies typically do not own cars, making it easier for people to become drivers.

Rideshare apps work similarly to Uber and Lyft. You download the app, enter your location, select what type of vehicle you'd like to hail and choose how many passengers you'll need. When you're ready to go, you simply open the app and request a ride. Your driver accepts your request, arrives within minutes, and picks you up, and takes you where you need to go. Afterward, the payment process works just like it does with Uber and Lyft—you pay via the app and receive a receipt.

Are Rideshares Dangerous?

Rideshare services offer convenience, but there are concerns about how they operate, including how well the companies screen their drivers. What's more, there has been a number of incidents where riders have been assaulted and even killed after getting into a vehicle they believe to be a rideshare ride, but that turns out to be a person pretending to be a rideshare driver. There is also some evidence suggesting that rideshare services are actually making the roads more dangerous.

In the years before Uber and Lyft were launched, fatal car accident rates were at record lows. But since the launch of these services, fatal accidents have risen by 2-3%. Researchers John Barrios of the University of Chicago found that the rise in fatalities coincides with the introduction of rideshare services. He says it could be because people feel safer riding in a shared vehicle rather than being alone in a personal one. Or it could be due to the fact that many people now don't bother calling taxis anymore, opting instead to use rideshare services.

Who's Liable if You're Involved in a Rideshare car Accident?

Whether you're a passenger in one of those vehicles or the driver of a ridesharing vehicle, liability will generally rest with the person driving the vehicle. In most cases, the person who owns the vehicle is responsible for paying compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident. However, there are exceptions. For example, if the owner of the vehicle fails to maintain insurance coverage, he could be held legally accountable for injuries caused by his negligence. Likewise, if a driver is found to be negligent, he could be held financially liable for damages caused by his actions.

To prove that someone was at-fault (i.e., negligent), you must show three things:

  1. The person owed a duty to act reasonably;
  2. He failed to do so; and
  3. As a result, you were injured and suffered damages.

In some states, it doesn't matter whose fault the accident was. Those states are called "no-fault" states. If you live in a state where it does matter, however, you'll want to make sure that you know how to prove that the other party was at fault.

Are Uber and Lyft Drivers Required to Carry Insurance?

Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft offer $1 million in liability insurance for their drivers. But what happens if one of those drivers causes an injury while driving for the company? How does that affect the person injured? And what about the driver's personal auto insurance policy?

Most drivers are covered by their own personal auto insurance policy. This means that when you're involved in a car accident with another party, you can file a claim with that person's insurance provider and be reimbursed for medical costs and other damages.

However, personal auto insurance policies often include a business-use exclusion. This means that coverage doesn't apply when the driver is operating a vehicle for business purposes. In most cases, this means that once a rideshare driver picks someone up using their app, the driver is considered to be using their vehicle for business reasons.

This means that as soon as the rideshare driver picks up someone, the driver loses the protection of both their personal auto insurance policy and their personal auto insurance policy's collision coverage.

So how do you get reimbursed for your medical bills if the rideshare driver caused the accident?

Both Uber and Lyft provide $100,000 in liability coverage for their riders. This means that if a rider files a claim against the driver, the driver must pay out $100,000 to cover the rider's medical expenses.

But there's a catch. If the driver is found liable for causing the accident, the driver cannot collect any money from their personal auto insurance policy because it contains a business-use exclusion clause.

An experienced accident lawyer in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can help you with your accident case. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.

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