Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies have changed how people do things in Florida. For the most part, the applications get you to where you need to go quickly, and usually for a pretty decent price. Even better, rideshares have allowed many drivers and partygoers to breathe easy, knowing they will not run the risk of getting a DUI or in a bad accident after a night out on the town.
Except that’s not always true. Taking a rideshare doesn’t guarantee that you will be accident-free. Especially in Florida, where the number of auto accidents is on the rise. Uber and Lyft drivers are people too, and people make mistakes. So what happens when rideshare vehicles get into accidents?
What happens next will depend on your position in the car. Uber/Lyft drivers, passengers (and the drivers of any other cars involved), and pedestrians all have different responsibilities and are subject to different kinds of compensation after an accident. Let’s look at each one.
What Happens after a Rideshare Accident Depending on Your Role
Uber and Lyft Drivers: Until recently, Uber and Lyft drivers would be covered under Uber and Lyft’s $1 million coverage policy while a passenger was in the car. This was a great reassurance for drivers… but only up to a point.
What happens if you have your app on, but you just dropped off a passenger and get into an accident? What happens if you are on your way to a passenger and get in an accident?
Florida’s House Bill 509, which was passed in early 2016, clears up these rules. The $1 million coverage still applies for when passengers are in the car, but now, drivers are required to carry $100,000 in bodily injury per person, and $300,000 bodily injury per incident to cover times when drivers are on-route to pick up a passenger. Note that these types of insurance are separate from PIP, Florida’s “no fault” insurance coverage.
It is also important to understand that drivers are still independent contractors, so they cannot receive workers’ compensation from Uber or Lyft.
Passengers: As a customer of Uber or Lyft, you have the least stress on your shoulders after an accident. If you get in an accident while being transported by an Uber or Lyft driver, you will be covered by the app’s insurance coverage. If your damages or injuries cost over $1 million, you may have to take the driver to court for an additional lawsuit, but for the first million, you can breathe easy.
Drivers and Passengers in Other Cars, Pedestrians: If you have been hit by an Uber driver, the place where you turn will all depend on who else is in the car, and whether or not you have personal injury protection. If you have PIP, you can still use this coverage as a pedestrian. If you do not, you can still receive some form of compensation.
Under HB509, drivers have to hold $125,000 per person of uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage while a passenger is in the vehicle. However, if the driver was on the way to pick up a passenger, you may have to rely on the $100,000 per person of bodily injury liability that is held by the driver.
What to Do after an Accident Involving an Uber or Lyft
Treat this accident like you would any other car accident. Seek medical attention and get everyone involved to safety first. Get the names, contact information, and insurance information of the drivers, passengers, and pedestrians involved in the accident.
Even though Florida follows “no-fault” insurance rules, be sure to take note of the road conditions, get recorded testimony and contact information from witnesses at the scene, and never admit that the accident was your fault.
For more information on how you can collect the most thorough information after a car accident, read our blog post on apps that can help you through the aftermath of a crash.
Then contact a car crash attorney. HB509 is still a new law, and there may be some complications navigating the new world of rideshare apps and auto accidents.
Where Do Taxis Fit into All of This?
Uber and Lyft have been at odds with taxi companies from their beginning. The rideshare companies are often held to different standards, and must carry different insurance, than traditional cab companies.
HB509 helped to close the gap in differences between rideshare and taxi companies, but they’re still not held to the same standards just yet. Talk to your lawyer if you have been involved in a taxi accident to learn what next steps you must take.
In fact, the best thing you can do whether you are a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, and whether your accident involved a rideshare vehicle, a taxi, or a regular passenger car is to talk to a Florida personal injury lawyer. Having proper representation by your side will give you the best chance at getting the compensation you need after an accident.
About the Author:
A partner at Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.