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Ride Share Accidents: Who is Liable?

By June 27, 2017 No Comments

Ride share options, such as Uber and Lyft, have made life easier for Phoenix-area residents in one way, but created new complications that most ride share passengers are never aware of—unless the car is involved in an accident.

Ride Share Accidents

What is Ride sharing?

Ride sharing is the term applied to a relatively new industry that allows individuals to provide the equivalent of taxi services using their own cars and on their own schedules. A driver who is registered with a ride share company simply turns on a mobile app when he or she is available to pick up passengers. Users request rides through their own mobile apps.

The whole process is simple and convenient, with one exception: automobile insurance coverage for ride share drivers is extremely complicated, and the independent contractor arrangement employed by most ride share companies is often asserted as a defense to any liability on the part of the company.

Ride share Insurance Complications

While insurance companies are beginning to develop solutions for ride share drivers, the question as to when a driver is or is not working is complicated and may create gaps in coverage. For example, the typical ride share insurance policy kicks in when the driver accepts a fare and begins traveling toward the pick-up location. When the driver isn’t working at all, his or her personal automobile insurance covers any mishaps.

However, this division leaves a gray area. When the driver is logged in and available but is neither carrying a passenger nor en route to pick up a passenger, rideshare insurance generally won’t apply. However, most personal automobile insurance policies exclude coverage for commercial use of the vehicle, which is arguably occurring as soon as the driver switches on the app.

Because the industry is still evolving, many drivers are unsure of exactly what coverage is provided by the ride share company, what coverage may be provided by purchasing a ride share policy or rider to their personal automobile insurance, and what situations will be covered by their individual policies.

Accidents Involving Ride share Passengers or Other Vehicles

Studies conflict on whether ride sharing options make the streets safer.  A 2016 study of data from 150 cities and counties around the United States led researchers to conclude that the availability of services like Uber and Lyft reduced both fatal traffic accidents and DUI arrests. However, a ten-year study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology determined that “the deployment of Uber services in a given metropolitan county had no association with the number of subsequent traffic fatalities.”

Whether or not ride sharing options impact the overall rate of accidents or fatalities, ride share accidents do happen. Given the complexity of the ride share insurance landscape and the nature of the relationship between the ride share company and the driver, it may be difficult for an accident victim to determine who is responsible for his or her injuries. That’s a critical issue, as overlooking a possible responsible party can greatly reduce the amount of damages available to an injury victim. Pursuing the wrong party could mean no recovery at all.

The car accident attorneys at Miller Kory Rowe LLP have the knowledge and experience necessary to identify and pursue the party or parties responsible for your injuries. Let us put our skills to work for you while you focus on rebuilding your life and recovering from your accident. Contact us today at (602) 648-4045 to schedule your free consultation.