WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS AFTER A RIDESHARE ACCIDENT?
A study by the University of Chicago and Rice University has found that the introduction of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have increased traffic fatalities by 2 to 3 percent since their debut in 2010.
If you choose to rely on a rideshare driver to get you from Point A to Point B but along the way, the car is involved in an accident and you suffer injuries, how do you recover compensation for your medical expenses and other losses? The answer will depend on whether you have an automobile of your own and carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Since New York is a no-fault auto accident state, in most cases, if you have PIP coverage, you must turn to your own insurance policy to recover for injuries.
If you lack PIP coverage, or if your PIP policy somehow doesn’t cover the rideshare accident in which you’ve been injured, then you can generally make a claim—or file a personal injury lawsuit—against the rideshare driver, or against another driver who struck the vehicle in which you were riding, causing your injuries.
Determining fault and responsibility for compensation in rideshare accidents can be tricky. If you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident in New York City or Long Island, contact me at the Law Office of Steven R. Smith. Let me assess the situation, advise you of your options, and then help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
PIP Insurance in New York
If you own a vehicle in New York, you are required by law to have $25,000 in bodily injury coverage for a single person, $50,000 in bodily injury coverage for all persons injured by you, and $10,000 in property damage coverage per accident. These requirements cover only injury and damages you cause to others.
For your own well-being, and because New York is a no-fault insurance state, you are also required to carry $50,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. This is intended to cover your medical care when you’re injured in an auto accident, even if you're a passenger in a rideshare vehicle.
When it comes to rideshare accidents, however, insurers can sometimes exclude coverage, according to New York’s Vehicle and Traffic (VAT) Law. In this case, you would have to seek compensation through a claim on the driver’s insurance or through a personal injury lawsuit. Uber and Lyft drivers are also backed by insurance provided by their parent companies.
Rideshare Insurance Mandates
New York governs rideshare companies and their drivers under the VAT Law mentioned above, and it considers Uber and Lyft (but not taxis) to be transportation network companies (TNCs). TNC refers to the fact that passengers need to use a cell phone app to summon a ride.
New York City is a bit different as it governs rideshare companies under regulations issued by the Taxi & Limousine Commission. Both the VAT and NYC regulations, however, do impose insurance liability requirements on rideshare companies and their drivers.
Insurance requirements are broken down into four “periods,” which correspond to what the driver is doing when an injury or accident occurs:
Period 0: The driver has his or her rideshare app turned off, so they are reliant solely on their own insurance. Uber and Lyft provide no help.
Period 1: The driver has the app turned on and is waiting for a ride request. Uber and Lyft provide liability coverage for any accident that is the fault of the driver if the driver's own insurance doesn't apply, but it covers only injuries or damages to others, not to the driver.
Periods 2 and 3: The driver has accepted a ride. Until the passenger disembarks, Uber and Lyft will provide liability coverage, but again, not for the driver. The difference from coverage under Period 1 is that the liability limits are higher during times when the driver is picking up, transporting, or dropping off a rider.
For Period 1, New York requires a total of $150,000 in coverage per accident, with a cap of $75,000 per injury. In addition, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident is required.
For Periods 2 and 3, the requirement jumps to $1,250,000 per accident. The same amount for uninsured/underinsured bodily injury coverage per accident is also required.
What to Do as a Rider
After an Accident
You should contact the police to report the accident, and if you or others are injured, you should call 911 and request emergency services. Both Uber and Lyft also require you to report the accident to them. On the Uber app, there is a feature under “Trip and Fare Review” called “I was involved in an accident.” For Lyft, there is a “Report an Accident” feature on the smartphone app.
As with any car accident, you should take photos at the scene to show what happened, including images of your injuries. If there are witnesses, get their contact information and statements. If the police arrive and investigate, try to get a copy of their report once they file it. Also, keep documentation for all the medical services you seek for your injuries. You may need these to press your claim or as evidence in a lawsuit.
The most important step is to contact a personal injury attorney to help you file your claim and seek just compensation.
Uber & Lyft Lawyer Serving
New York and Long Island
The rules governing rideshare liability vary depending on the status of the driver—whether the app is turned on and whether there are passengers. A lot also depends on whether the rider has PIP coverage and whether the PIP insurer honors rideshare accidents.
In short, you may have a claim under PIP, the driver’s insurance, Uber or Lyft contingent insurance—or you may find yourself forced to sue.
Contact me immediately at the Law Office of Steven R. Smith if you’re involved in an Uber or Lyft accident in New York or Long Island. I will listen to your story, investigate the situation, assess your options, and advise you of the best path forward. I will then fight for financial compensation, whether through an insurance claim or a lawsuit. I proudly serve clients in Hempstead, Westbury, Mineola, New Hyde Park, and throughout Long Island and New York City.