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Injured Rideshare Drivers: Who Is Responsible?

Monday, June 22, 2020

Injured Rideshare Drivers: Who Is Responsible?

Americans are increasingly relying on drivers for rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft to get them to their destination. While these drivers serve an important function, they also put themselves at high risk of injury. In 2018, there were over 3,000 fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes in California.

The results of a rideshare accident can be devastating to the driver. Injuries will mean lost wages, and damage to a vehicle could take away their only means of providing support for themselves or family. Rideshare drivers need to understand their rights for recovery if they are injured while driving for a company like Uber or Lyft.

Determining Fault

When there is a car accident, a party is considered at fault if they acted negligently in a way that caused injury to another person or property. Common actions that can lead to a finding of fault include any violation of a traffic ordinance, such as speeding or running a red light. If a driver received a traffic citation from the police, this is compelling evidence that they acted negligently.

Insurance companies will also use fault as a basis for determining which driver's insurance should pay any claims. In order to limit coverage obligations, insurance companies are strongly incentivized to demonstrate that their insured was not at fault.

To make sure you can establish a strong case against the other party, be sure to secure a police report, document the scene of the accident, and secure contact information for any witnesses.

Seeking Recovery

Rideshare drivers face a complicated web or responsibility when determining how to recover for their injuries after an accident. While the driver might feel that they are employed by Uber or Lyft, they will considered an independent contractor.

Independent Contractors

Whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor is a determination made by analyzing the relationship between the individual and the company for which they are providing services. The following factors indicate that an individual is an independent contractor rather than an employee:

  • They control the work that is performed and how it is done;
  • They manage the business components of their job;
  • They do not receive any employee benefits; and
  • There is no formal employee contract

The National Labor Relations Board has advised that rideshare drivers are independent contractors. This finding excludes Uber and Lyft drivers from pursuing a workers' compensation claim. This finding, however, could be up for debate in California where recent legislation looks to limit the use of independent contractors in the state's gig economy.

Because an independent contractor cannot recover under workers' compensation, they will need to depend on insurance providers to compensate them for their injuries.

Navigating Insurance Policies

There are several insurance policies that might come into play after a rideshare accident:

  • The driver's personal policy;
  • The rideshare company's insurance policy; and
  • The policy of the other driver

Your first step should be to review the rideshare company's protocol when an accident occurs. Both Uber and Lyft require drivers to submit a report to access the company's insurance policies. The Uber crash report is here, and the Lyft crash report is here. If it is unclear whether you were operating in the course of your duties at the time of the accident, this will serve to complicate recovery even further and may require you to involve your personal insurance company.

If you are a rideshare driver who has been involved in an accident, you may be overwhelmed with the stress of managing injuries while considering the financial impacts. Navigating the complexities of determining fault and contacting insurance companies is an unnecessary additional stress.  Contact our firm today to understand the strength of your case and your options for recovery.

Injured Rideshare Drivers: Who Is Responsible?

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