Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft have become extremely popular. As these services expand to more areas of the country, more and more people are taking advantage of their convenience to get where they are going. This sudden increase in rideshare vehicles hitting the road has raised some unique legal issues, however. Both riders and drivers should understand their legal options if they are involved in a wreck.
Screening Rideshare Drivers
In order to be hired by one of these companies, drivers must be thoroughly screened. Potential rideshare drivers must provide:
- Name and date of birth
- Social Security number
- Copy of their driver’s license
- Copy of the vehicle’s registration
- Insurance policy
- Proof of a completed vehicle inspection
The company then runs a third-party background check, looking for traffic violations, criminal records, sex offender registries, etc. They do not run a fingerprint scan, which taxi and limo services are required to do.
Liability in Rideshare Accidents
In most cases, employers can be held liable for negligent actions by their employees while on the job. While Uber and Lyft provide their drivers with the phone to accept fares, however, rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors, not employees of the company. Drivers are also not required to register their cars as commercial vehicles. These conditions make filing a car accident claim more complicated than other types of accident cases.
All drivers are required to carry personal insurance, and Uber and Lyft provide additional coverage when drivers are actively working. This is especially important because many insurance companies will deny claims if the driver is using their vehicle for commercial purposes. Insurance coverage for rideshare drivers is tiered, depending on when the accident occurs.
- If the driver is not accepting fares: the driver’s own insurance policy covers any accidents; no coverage provided by the rideshare company
- If the driver’s app is on but they do not currently have a ride: Uber and Lyft provide coverage of up to $50,000 per person injured in the wreck, up to $100,000 total injury liability, and up to $25,000 property liability
- If the driver has an active fare: the company provides up to $1 million in liability coverage
When an Accident Occurs
In the event of a ridesharing accident, there are steps that drivers and passengers should take to make the claims process easier. First and foremost, it is important to make sure everyone involved is ok and assess any injuries that may have occurred. Even if the accident seems minor, it is important to call the police so they can take a report. Take photos of the accident, including the license plate of the other vehicle, and record the circumstances in detail to share with your insurance company. Drivers should exchange insurance information and rideshare drivers should inform their company immediately. They may be suspended temporarily, but they should be reinstated once they can prove that their vehicle is safe to drive.
The best way for rideshare drivers to limit their own liability in an accident is to prevent one from happening. Drivers should make sure that their vehicle is in excellent working condition at all times – ensure that tires are filled and fluids are topped off, and make sure brakes are in good shape. Get plenty of rest before hitting the road to avoid the risk of a drowsy driving accident.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Provide Comprehensive Representation to Passengers and Drivers Injured in Uber and Lyft Accidents
The laws regarding rideshares are still being formed, but having an experienced car accident lawyer by your side can help ensure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. If you have been injured in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle, call the Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A.. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at fault and prepare a sound legal strategy to obtain the compensation you deserve.
With offices conveniently located in Columbia, Charleston, Rock Hill, Aiken, Florence, and Sumter, we help injured drivers and passengers throughout South Carolina. Call us today at 866-881-8623 or contact us online for a free consultation.