Who’s Liable In A Ride-Sharing Accident?

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Car accidents happen all over Florida, as well as the rest of the country. That’s not really a surprise considering how car-dependent America is. When you’ve got millions of cars on the road, all of them driven by fallible people, sooner or later, a mistake is going to occur, and sometimes that mistake can involve others. When that mistake results in a car accident, it’s now time to start resolving the issue by answering the biggest question; who is at fault?

In car accidents, this is the most important question, since an accident victim is entitled to financial compensation, whether that’s just repairs to the vehicle itself, or actual compensation for medical treatment, or even loss of life and punitive damages depending on how serious the accident and consequences are. But in recent years there’s a new wrinkle added to assigning blame, and that’s the rise of the “ride sharing” concept.

Like Taxis, But Not

Ride sharing is most commonly recognized with the names “Uber” and “Lyft.” These two companies have rocketed to the top with a unique concept. They don’t actually own garages, or provide vehicles or maintenance to anyone. The rides they “share” are provided by any American, who owns a car, and wishes to make some money on the side—or even full time—as a driver that is paid to take people to their destinations like a taxi driver. However, unlike a taxi driver, who uses a company vehicle with company branding and is the employee of a taxi cab company, a ride sharing driver works under a different model.

Rather than be an employee of a company, an Uber or Lyft driver works under an “independent contractor” agreement. He or she uses her own vehicle, and merely gives a “cut” of the total passenger fee to the ride share company, that acts as a ride dispatcher through the software provided.

The Accident Scenario

Of course, just like any driver on the road—and just like taxi drivers—ride share drivers can make mistakes. However, unlike a private driver, who is covered by his or her own insurance when driving on his or her own time, or a taxi driver that is insured by the company worked for, ride share drivers are not employed, but are working and on the clock if an accident occurs while carrying a passenger.

So, in a situation like this, what are the legal consequences if you get into an accident with a ride sharing driver when you know that driver is the one at fault?

The State Of The Ride

Both Uber and Lyft have a one million dollar insurance policy that covers people using their software. However, there are very specific conditions for when that insurance policy would be considered active. If the driver is not “on the clock,” the insurance doesn’t apply. If the driver has accepted a passenger but is on the way to pick up the passenger, but has not started the ride, the insurance does not apply.

However, if the driver has the passenger in the car, and is delivering the passenger to his or her destination, now the insurance policy is active. Keep in mind that this only applies when it comes to determining fault for insurance to pay out. If you decide to take things a step further, and contact a car accident lawyer for a lawsuit, you will be suing the driver, not the ride sharing service, so the “prize” of that one million dollar insurance policy may not be on the table if you decide to go for a personal injury lawsuit instead.


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