Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have grown increasingly popular in recent years – and with good reason. They offer a safe, affordable option for people enjoying a night out on the town or even those folks who are just in need of a ride from point A to point B at any time of day. But if an accident occurs – who is liable? Is it the driver or the company?
Whether you are in another vehicle that is involved in a car crash with an Uber or Lyft or if you are a passenger in the Uber or Lyft, it is important to know who is ultimately responsible if an accident occurs.
What to Know About Uber Accident Cases in League City
Ordering a ride through Uber or Lyft is often a safer option than driving yourself someplace, but it does not mean an accident cannot or will not occur. Motor vehicle accidents happen every day, and sometimes they involve ridesharing vehicles. If you are involved in an Uber accident in League City or a Lyft accident, it is important to note that Texas laws regarding ridesharing companies apply to all rideshare drivers throughout the state.
In Texas, drivers for rideshare companies such as Uber or Lyft must meet the following requirements in order to obtain an operating permit:
- Be at least age 18
- Hold a valid driver’s license
- Maintain proof of valid vehicle registration
- Maintain valid auto insurance
- Pass a background check
Rideshare drivers who fail to meet these requirements may have their permit revoked and the company could lose its Texas operating license, meaning it can no longer operate anywhere in the State of Texas.
What is the Duty of Care for Uber and Lyft Drivers?
The term “duty of care” refers to a person’s legal responsibility to act in a reasonable manner, or “use due care, toward others to protect them from unnecessary risk of harm.” If a person does not meet this duty and others are injured as a result, he or she may be considered negligent and held liable for those injuries.
Ridesharing drivers like those who work for Uber or Lyft have a duty of care toward their passengers. This means that they are required to drive as safely as possible in order to deliver a passenger to his or her destination. For example, a driver who does not focus their attention on the road and instead texts or talks on a mobile phone or is otherwise distracted is not exercising a duty of care toward their passengers.
An Uber or Lyft driver who fails to act in a reasonable manner and is then involved in an accident or other incident in which a passenger is injured can be held responsible for their actions – or failure to act, depending on the situation. Under certain circumstances, the company may be held liable as well.
Who is Liable Following an Accident with an Uber or Lyft?
At first glance, it would seem that rideshare companies must bear a significant amount of liability in the event of an accident involving one of their drivers. However, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are structured in such a way that the companies are often largely protected from responsibility in the event of an accident. For example, Uber classifies their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, providing a legal buffer between the company and the actions of the driver.
If a car accident occurs, the rideshare company often claims that they merely act as a facilitator for fares – in other words, they help connect drivers and passengers – and that is the extent of their involvement. They place all responsibility for any accidents or incidents that occur during the ride squarely on the driver.
Exactly who is liable in this type of accident is a critical point if you are involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft. Whether you were a passenger in either vehicle or the driver of a vehicle hit by an Uber or Lyft, holding the rideshare company itself – and not just the driver – responsible for the accident can make a tremendous difference in the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries or any damage to your vehicle.
A Texas car accident lawyer who has experience handling cases involving rideshare companies such as Uber or Lyft is your best bet for proving the negligence of both the driver and the company. For instance, perhaps the driver does not have a clean driving record or does not meet one or more of the requirements for operating a rideshare vehicle in the State of Texas. If that is the case, the company may be liable because it has a responsibility to ensure its drivers meet certain standards.
How Insurance Coverage Works for Uber and Lyft
Under Texas law, every driver for a ridesharing company is required to carry a valid automobile insurance policy for their vehicle. The rideshare company is also required to have insurance for their drivers. Uber, for example, carries a $1 million insurance policy for its drivers.
If you are involved in an accident with a rideshare vehicle such as an Uber or Lyft while the rideshare app is on, both personal and commercial insurance may apply. The driver’s personal auto insurance policy may apply as the primary insurance while the rideshare company’s policy may apply as secondary insurance. Uber’s insurance policy varies depending on the circumstances of the accident. For instance, while the company provides third-party liability coverage in the event of an accident while the driver is available or waiting for a ride request, there is higher coverage if the accident occurs while the rideshare driver is transporting a passenger.
Whether or not you can sue – and win damages – Uber or Lyft after an accident involving a rideshare vehicle depends on the specific details of your case. The key point in determining if you have a valid lawsuit against a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft is the driver’s status at the time of the accident. When a passenger requests a ride through the app and the driver accepts the request, the app is enabled. If a rideshare driver is involved in an accident while the app is on, the company may be liable. However, if an accident occurs when the app is not on, in other words when the driver is using their vehicle for their own personal use, the rideshare company may not be liable.
Even when a rideshare driver is operating their vehicle as part of their job, it can be difficult to hold the rideshare company responsible. These companies do everything they can to avoid being held liable for accidents caused by their drivers.
Contact a League City Uber/Lyft Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident in League City, Texas that was caused by an Uber or Lyft driver, or a driver for another rideshare company, it is imperative that you speak with a car accident lawyer experienced in handling these cases. The skilled Uber/Lyft accident attorneys at Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers in League City can help. We handle car accident cases involving rideshare drivers for companies such as Uber or Lyft in and around League City, Texas. We stand up to rideshare companies and fight to ensure our clients receive fair compensation. Complete our contact form or call us today at (281) 645-5000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.