Ride Along: The Guide to Dealing with Uber, Lyft and Other Taxi like Services
This guide covers the issues that have risen due to the increase in ride share services.
What are the rules?The rules for taxi services and medical transport services are fairly straight forward. If you are in a taxi or medical transport vehicle, and you are in auto accident, then the liable driver's insurance will cover you first. If the driver of the vehicle you are a passenger in is liable, then that insurance covers you first, but if the driver of another vehicle was liable, then their insurance will cover your injuries first. Additionally, you can always fall back on your own under-insured motorist coverage if you have it. If you are in your own private vehicle and in an auto accident with a taxi where the taxi driver is liable, the taxi company's insurance will always apply and not the private insurance of the taxi driver.
But, when was the last time you took an actual taxi? Services like Uber and Lyft are not taxis and the same rules do not apply. There are a lot of new insurance issues due to the fact that these services are not regulated in the same manner that taxi and medical transport services are regulated.
Determining what insurance applies is determined by what the driver was doing. If the driver is "off duty" then the driver's personal insurance applies. This applies even if the driver has stickers that say "Lyft" or "Uber" on the vehicle. A driver is considered off duty when the driver is not logged into the app.
If the driver is "available," meaning that they had the app turned on, Uber and Lyft provide at least the minimum liability coverage required in Oregon. This means $25,000 per person and $50,000 per auto accident. If that isn't enough coverage, then your personal underinsured motorist coverage kicks in. The personal auto policy of the driver will not be a source of funds in this situation as personal auto policies generally exclude coverage for auto accidents occurring during business use. However, if you are in an auto accident of this nature you should have an experienced auto accident attorney review the policy.
If the driver is "en route" Uber and Lyft both provide $1,000,000 in liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage. "En route" means the driver is on the way to pick up a customer, or already has the customer in their car.
What do I do if I am in an accident with a ride share vehicle?Most importantly, don't make a statement to a company like "Uber" and/or "Lyft" without talking to an experienced auto accident attorney. Things you say can be taken out of context and used against you in the future. Make sure you follow steps you would if you were in an accident and driving. Take pictures, get the names of witnesses, and get everybody's insurance information.