Who Can Be Held Liable for an Uber or Lyft Accident?

Conventional taxi cabs are essentially obsolete now that Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services have taken over. While Uber and Lyft offer an added level of convenience because they can be requested at the touch of a button, the rideshare services also add legal complexities.

That’s because Uber and Lyft drivers are considered to be independent contractors – even though they are paid by the rideshare companies, the drivers drive their own vehicles, and they are generally responsible for providing their own insurance.

Thus, when inevitable Uber or Lyft accidents occur, it may be difficult to determine who exactly will pay for the damage. In this blog post, we will explain why that question does not have an easy answer, and walk you through the basics of who’s liable for damages when an accident involves an Uber or Lyft.

Wisconsin Uber and Lyft Car Accidents 

While there’s no denying that Uber and Lyft are more convenient than a traditional taxi cab, the rideshare services also come with downsides. While Uber and Lyft require drivers to sign up and undergo a background check on the app, there is no way for the apps to verify who gets behind the wheel each time a session is opened. Otherwise, Lyft and Uber drivers undergo no formal training or licensing process before beginning to drive for the rideshare services.

Most importantly, Uber and Lyft work to avoid liability for damages and medical costs when accidents occur. If a passenger is injured in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft, the passenger may try to seek compensation from Uber or Lyft, but the passenger may have difficulty doing so, depending on the facts of the accident.

That’s because of the way Uber and Lyft structure their relationships with drivers. While traditional cab companies utilize cab drivers as employees, Uber and Lyft drivers function as independent contractors. In essence, Uber and Lyft function as middlemen between drivers and passengers. While a passenger pays the Uber or Lyft app, the companies otherwise only serve to connect drivers and riders with each other.

Liability for Uber and Lyft Car Accidents

When a car accident occurs involving an Uber or Lyft, liability depends on the specific circumstances of the accident. Lyft and Uber require drivers to carry their own insurance, but the state of Wisconsin also requires the companies to carry additional insurance to cover their drivers up to $1 million.

If an Uber or Lyft driver is off duty, then their personal insurance applies to cover accidents.

If a driver is on duty, but not actively on a “ride,” meaning traveling to pick up a passenger or waiting on a new request, then their personal insurance applies first, but Uber or Lyft’s insurance would apply to cover any additional liability.

If a driver is on duty and actively providing a ride, then Uber or Lyft’s insurance policy would apply first – up to $1 million in liability coverage and $1 million in un/underinsured motorist coverage. However, it is worth noting that if an Uber or Lyft driver engages in negligent behavior leading to the accident, the company’s policy generally does not cover lawsuits against the driver as an individual. That’s where things can get tricky – you may need to seek compensation from the driver as an individual and from the rideshare company’s insurance policy separately.

Because accidents involving Uber and Lyft are so complicated, it’s important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident to get more information about all of your options. Our team is ready to assist you.