What to do if you are injured in a car accident while using a rideshare app as a passenger

The sharing economy and start-ups have brought many new and wonderful services to consumers, but sometimes the law struggles to catch up to these innovations. In the case of ridesharing platforms like Uber and Lyft, some municipalities have struggled to create regulations and taxes on individual drivers or on the rideshare companies. Ensuring passenger safety with thorough background checks on potential drivers and with swift penalties for those who take advantage of passengers has also been a challenge, one left primarily in the hands of ridesharing apps.

One area where the law remains clear with regard to rideshare drivers and their passengers is the imposition of liability for motor vehicle accidents. While the law is certain and established on this point, treating an incident with a rideshare vehicle like any other collision, the newness of these apps might lead to some confusion for injured passengers seeking their rightful compensation. Read on to learn what you should do, if you are involved in a car accident as a rideshare passenger.

When an accident occurs, you should remain as calm as possible. If you are able, assist others who might not be able to assist themselves due to injury or preexisting disability. Do not leave the scene without getting the usual identity and insurance information of all drivers involved; if there are witnesses, such as other passengers or passers-by, try to get their information as well. As soon as you are in a safe place, and have had proper medical attention—as discussed below—you should also notify the rideshare service of the accident, preferably in writing.

Even if you do not feel injured immediately following the crash, you should seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible, preferably soon after leaving the accident scene. Many injuries are difficult to detect until after your adrenaline has worn off. For both medical and legal reasons, delaying treatment cannot only lead to longer healing times and worse health outcomes, but delayed treatment makes it easier for an insurance company to argue that your injuries were not the result of the accident.

As mentioned above, assigning liability is one area of law that has not had to adapt to the new rideshare apps. As a passenger, you are mostly immune from liability, regardless of the other circumstances of the accident. This is why many people turn to rideshare apps such as Uber or Lyft when they need a designated driver; companies and organizations even arrange discounted rides with rideshares for their social events to limit their liability.

If your rideshare driver is at-fault, your first option is to seek compensation through the driver’s personal insurance policy. However, unless the driver has a commercial policy or a special clause in their personal auto policy, accidents that occurred during rideshares are most likely not covered. You would then pursue a claim against the ridesharing company’s policy; such policies often cover up to a million dollars in loss from a single incident.

If a driver other than the one operating your rideshare vehicle is at fault, you may pursue a claim against his or her insurance policy.

Car accidents can be terrifying, life-changing, or—if you are lucky to avoid major injury—an unnecessary annoyance in the midst of your busy life. Having the right lawyer as partner can help you recoup losses, pay for medical treatment, and put an unwelcome chapter in your life behind you. Whether you have been injured as a rideshare passenger or under other circumstances, call our office today to discuss your options.

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