Are Lyft And Uber Ride-Sharing Companies Liable For Driver Car Crashes?
Consumers have embraced Uber and Lyft ride-sharing as an inexpensive and safe alternative for public transportation. Ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber use smartphone apps to connect drivers with passengers. There is no statistical evidence to suggest that these drivers are more likely to get into car crashes than taxi cabs or other drivers. However, when a Lyft or Uber driver is involved in an auto accident, there is some question as to whether the ride-sharing companies are liable for their driver’s actions.
There is no specific law in most states that address this issue and Florida is no exception. Furthermore, from a purely legal standpoint, there is a strong argument that ride-sharing companies are not legally responsible for injuries caused by their negligent drivers. This is because the companies do not actually employ the drivers. Instead, the drivers are independent contractors. In addition, Uber and Lyft take the position they are not profiting from the ride itself. Instead, they claim they are only profiting from making the connection between driver and passenger. Therefore, according to them, they should not be responsible for the driver’s actions.
Fortunately, both Uber and Lyft voluntarily provide auto accident insurance to cover claims up to $1 million dollars. When the insurance coverage will apply is a little different for both companies. It appears both Uber and Lyft insurance policies will provide coverage when a passenger is actually in the car and their driver negligently causes a car accident. It also appears both Uber and Lyft insurance policies will provide uninsured underinsured coverage when there is a passenger in the ridesharing vehicle that is hit by a negligent driver. However, there are definitely times when the insurance policies will not provide coverage. For example, in 2013 the auto insurance policy for Uber denied coverage to a 6-year-old girl that was hit by an Uber driver that did not have a passenger at the time. Uber’s insurance company denied the claim because the driver was in between rides at the time of the collision.
If the driver is in-between rides, there is also a possibility that the driver’s insurance policy will cover the claim. This will depend on what type of insurance policy the driver purchased. Insurance companies are now writing policies that can be purchased by drivers that specifically cover them for their negligent auto accidents while engaged in looking for ride-sharing rides. Of course, this requires the driver to specifically tell the insurance company they are going to use the car for ride-sharing. If the driver did not tell the insurance carrier they will be carrying Uber or Lyft passengers, the insurance company may refuse to pay an auto accident claim.