Rideshare options like Uber and Lyft are incredibly popular for easy transportation in our app-driven world. Why wait for a cab when a smartphone can give almost instant access to a personal chauffeur?
Rideshare apps efficiently connect passengers and drivers, and give consumers almost endless mobility options, from making a quick local trip to getting across the country in a luxury vehicle. However, any method of transportation come with risks, and south Florida leads the state in accidents. Of the 395,785 accidents that took place in 2016, Miami, Broward and Orange Counties had more accidents than any others.
People often turn to Uber or Lyft as a safer alternative to get where they are going. Regardless of the distance you may travel, accidents can happen, resulting in damages including injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Such damages are even more likely when there is a complicating factor, such as airbags failing to deploy.
Anyone who has ever been involved in a motor vehicle accident knows the aftermath can become complex. As a rideshare passenger, there can be even greater confusion than normal. Who may be responsible for damages? Is the driver at fault, the rideshare company, an insurance carrier, or even a combination of those parties, liable for the damages? What if there was a mechanical failure or product defect? Could the manufacturer or maintenance provider also be liable?
Understanding Uber and Lyft Insurance Coverage
Whether you are a rideshare driver or a passenger, understanding the insurance coverage that companies such as Uber and Lyft use may help protect you in the event of an accident and resulting damages.
- Passengers: Uber and Lyft carry $1 million liability insurance policies. Of course that does not mean that a passenger should expect a simple process for a settlement of that amount, even if they have suffered serious injuries. Insurance companies maximize their profits by selling the most policies and paying out the least amount in claims, and insurance companies that sell policies to companies like Uber and Lyft will work hard to limit compensation for claims of damages.
- Drivers: Uber and Lyft have similar insurance policies, that depend on the “phase” the driver is in at the time of the accident. It is important to note that neither Uber or Lyft provide insurance to drivers who do not also have a personal insurance policy. That means that a driver must have their own insurance before the rideshare company’s insurance policy will apply to them. Additionally, since insurance companies may deny coverage if they discover their customer was a driver for a rideshare program, the corporate insurance policies may become critically important for drivers if there has been an accident.
The driver phases for insurance purposes include:
- Phase 1: During Phase 1, drivers are driving their vehicle but not looking for customers. During this phase, corporate insurance policies will not cover drivers in the case of an accident. The driver must instead solely rely on personal insurance, and will risk a claim denial when the insurance company notices that the driver was working for a rideshare company. An accident in Phase 1 can be especially difficult for drivers to navigate alone, and someone in that position should consult an experienced lawyer for help.
- Phase 2: During Phase 2, drivers have the relevant application open, and they are actively seeking customers. The corporate insurance policies apply to both Uber and Lyft drivers during this phase. The insurance coverage by both companies during this phase is 100/50/25 liability insurance. This means insurance will cover $100,000 per incident, $50,000 per person, and $25,000 in property damage. Unfortunately, these amounts are not comprehensive enough for many drivers, as most experts recommend 300/100/50 liability insurance.
- Phase 3: During Phase 3, drivers either have a passenger in the vehicle or they are on their way to pick up a passenger. During this phase, both the driver and passenger are covered under a corporate $1 million liability insurance policy.
What Happens if the Airbags Didn’t Deploy?
If you have been involved in a rideshare accident and the airbags didn’t deploy, you may be wondering who is responsible for your injuries. The answer to that question depends on the circumstances and facts of the accident.
It’s important to know that airbags are not supposed to deploy in minor collisions. The rapid inflation of airbags can injure drivers and passengers, and so they are designed to only deploy in accidents when necessitated by speed and impact. Such accidents include moderate-to-severe crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a moderate-to-severe accident as a crash of hitting a solid, fixed barrier at 8 to 14 mph or higher. (This is equivalent to striking a parked car of similar size at about 16 to 28 mph or higher.)
Apart from a minor collision, there are many reasons why airbags may not deploy. Sensors may automatically disable an airbag if an underweight person (typically a child) would be subject to a potentially dangerous airbag impact. If a used car has been in a prior accident, airbags may not deploy if they were not properly replaced. Or airbags may not deploy if there is a product defect issue, such as a faulty airbag or faulty ignition. Faulty airbags forced Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda to recall millions of vehicles. The reason the infamous Takata airbag recall was necessary was because airbags that fail to deploy in moderate-to-severe accidents can result in catastrophic injuries. Regardless of why the failure to deploy occurred, the resulting risk for life-changing and even fatal injuries can be the same.
If you have been in an accident of sufficient severity and the airbags did not deploy, it is critical to preserve the post-collision vehicle. Potentially liable parties often seek to shift blame away from themselves and on to others. The vehicle itself is the best evidence for determining if a car manufacturer, airbag manufacturer, rideshare company, or another party may be partially or fully liable for your damages.
What Do I Do Now? Call Uber Car Accident Law!
Being involved in a rideshare accident may already be complicated, and if the airbag failed to deploy when it should have, the difficulties will only be compounded. You may have substantial damages, including physical injuries, property loss, and lost income. The potentially liable parties may be shifting blame among themselves, leaving you confused and without compensation.
Speak to a personal injury lawyer with experience with rideshare company accidents. We may be able to help you navigate the insurance settlement process, and if necessary, advocate for you through litigation. Don’t let a rideshare company or their insurance carrier give you less than you deserve. Email Uber Car Accident Law or call (305) 964-8806 for a free consultation and to learn more.