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Who is Liable if Passenger or Third Party is injured in an Uber, Lyft or Sidecar Accident?

Ride share apps are becoming more and more popular across the country, and it’s easy to see why. Apps like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are extremely easy to use. All that’s required is pulling up the app on your phone, entering where you want to be picked up, and you’re off to the races. The affordability of these services is another big draw. They are all significantly cheaper than regular taxis, with none of the drawbacks of public transportation.

The ride share app business model has grown explosively in recent years as more and more people are taking advantage of the unique service. However, these services have also been lightning rods for controversy. Uber hit the news recently for failing to run adequate background checks. Now, a new debate has made headlines – and it affects all ride share apps.

What Happens in a Ride-Share Accident?

Do you know who would be responsible if you’re driving for a ride share company and get into an auto accident? Many people who sign up for ride share apps assume their regular insurance plan will cover them, or the company will take care of it in the event of an accident. This is in fact untrue, because these services are toeing the line between commercial services and “a friend with a car,” as Lyft describes itself. Almost anybody can become a driver with one of these services – and the insurance plans offered are typically less than sympathetic to the driver.

If you’re driving a car for Uber or another ride share company and get in an accident, your insurance will likely not cover you, because you are considered to be performing a business activity. You will be on the hook for your car’s repairs as well as the repairs for any other cars involved in the collision. Most ride share companies will not cover the damages unless a passenger is injured. In cases where nobody is injured, or you yourself as the driver are injured, you’re out of luck.

This means if you decide to be a driver for Uber, you are not covered by any insurance plan if you get injured or even killed. It’s common knowledge car accidents can be extremely serious. If you receive a traumatic blow to the head or spine, you could be disabled for life. You could become paralyzed, or lose your ability to concentrate on involved tasks. This could mean that what started as a way to make a bit of money as a driver ends with you having to be out of the workforce permanently.

Should You Become a Ride-Share Driver?

Before becoming a driver for one of these ride share app companies, it’s important to know the risks you’re taking. It’s likely that these companies will soon face legal issues regarding their insurance policies, and may be forced by law to offer reasonable coverage to drivers. Until then, it’s important to educate yourself on these insurance policies.

Fortunately, ride share apps do tend to cover injuries to third parties or passengers in your car. This is good for you as a driver with passengers and good for any passengers who may get injured. However, Uber typically considers itself not liable for accidents occurring when there are no passengers in the car and your personal insurance policy is unlikely to cover accidents occurring when you do have passengers. This would seem to mean the insurance policies complement each other, but there are significant gaps that can affect your health and liability.

Becoming a driver for a ride share company can be dangerous and expensive. To learn more about protecting yourself legally when driving a ride share, contact Grey Law today.

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