Taking an Uber or Lyft
Going downtown for drinks, getting a ride home from the airport, or taking a ride to a restaurant from your hotel. Chances are you or someone you know have encountered one of these or a similar situation in the past year and have chosen to use an Uber or Lyft to get you there. As ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft continue to grow in popularity more and more drivers are hitting the road taking people where they need to go. Unfortunately with more Uber drivers it has also turned into more Uber accidents.
If you are reading this, I’m gonna bet that, you or someone you know was a passenger in an accident with an Uber / Lyft driver. As we all know, there are risks when getting into anyones car, including your own. Understanding those risks and the protections you have if something happens can go a long way. When riding with anyone, especially a stranger, you are putting your life in their hands. 5 star driver or not.
If I had a Million Dollars
Both Uber and its rival Lyft carry $1 million dollar insurance policies for its drivers in the event of an accident. These policies cover injuries resulting from an accident while the app is engaged and the driver is actively working. Ride-sharing policies are designed to protect everyone involved. Those in the car, and any 3rd party injuries (pedestrian, bicyclist…) included.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no guarantee that you will receive the policy limits of any insurance policy. The injuries suffered and their severity play a role in determining how much of that money you may actually see. For example, a broken wrist doesn’t merit the same amount of settlement money, as a broken neck would.
Where Does Accident Settlement Money Come From?
As much as we would love to have a million dollars handed to us for the inconvenience of being in an accident, it doesn’t work that way. The best way to look at this is to think about buckets of money. The more buckets and the more money in each bucket the better.
Let’s start with an example. Your Uber / Lyft is hit by another car and it’s that driver’s fault. He was underinsured. (Meaning they had insurance, but it was not enough to cover the cost of the injuries of the accident.) You and the ride-share driver are traveling to your destination set in the Uber/Lyft app, and you have your own Underinsured, Uninsured motorist coverage (UM for short).
Looking at the buckets above, you start left to right. The at fault driver’s insurance must be exhausted before Uber’s policy or your UM coverage even comes into play.
At Fault Drivers Insurance Policy
Looking at the example above, you see two numbers. 50k and 100k. The 50k is the per person benefit, and the 100k is the total payout per accident. Since it is just you and the driver involved in the crash, you would each have 50k in coverage from the at fault drivers insurance. (If there was an additional person in the car, you would still only have a 100k total.)
Uber / Lyft Insurance Policy
In this case, Uber and Lyft’s insurance is a form of UM insurance. This means that it takes affect when the at fault driver is underinsured or uninsured. If the damages, and medical bills are higher than what the drivers insurance can cover, Uber’s million dollar policy comes into play. The million dollar’s available from the policy is the max amount paid out for everyone involved.
Your UM Coverage
If this was a severe accident and more coverage is needed, your UM coverage might help. If you exhausted all the at fault driver’s insurance policy, and the ride-share’s policy, your personal UM Coverage is the last bucket.
In this example, there is a total of 1.4 million in coverage available adding up each of the buckets. This is a lot of money. Unfortunately, it does not guarantee it will cover everything. Medical bills can be very expensive. It also doesn’t guarantee that you will receive the full amount or even anything close to it.
When a Million is Not Enough
In some rare cases this million dollar plus in coverage may not be enough for the accident. Reasons for this include: Sever injuries such as paralysis, multiple injured people, or no additional coverage other than the ride-share’s policy. It is possible that the million dollars may not be enough in any of these cases. If this is the case, there may be options to sue for additional funds from the at fault driver or Uber/Lyft. Suing is no guarantee and may take an extended period of time to complete. Every accident is unique and can have multiple factors determining what coverages each person can receive.
Filing a Claim for an Uber / Lyft Accident
If you have found yourself in an accident while riding in an Uber/Lyft there are a few steps you need to take. Uber outlines in its app pretty well what to do following an accident as does Lyft. Following an accident, a form (found here) must be completed and submitted to Uber immediately. Just like any other insurance company, Uber reviews the claim and may deny it for any number of reasons.
As a passenger in an Uber accident, understanding where the insurance money comes from and how to gain access to it can be difficult. Struggles navigating insurance policy’s is the reason many people hire a Personal Injury attorney. These attorney’s handle this situation everyday. Attorneys know how the system works and can help answer questions about what to do next. Furthermore, the expertise they bring to the situation, can bring additional settlement money to the injured person. According to the Insurance Research Council, the average settlement for a personal injury case with an attorney is nearly 3.5x larger than without, even after the attorney fees are paid. Why go at it alone? With almost all personal injury attorneys working on a contingency bases, (they only get paid if you do) there is little to lose and less stress to be had.