When using a ridesharing service, you may have wondered how safe the driver was who was taking you to your destination. A follow-up thought may have been whether he or she had adequate insurance coverage.
Until recently, few, if any, insurance companies covered the costs of accidents under a personal auto insurance policy when the driver is actually using the vehicle as a de facto commercial cab. UberX, the lower-priced option for users, has drivers use their personal vehicles. This led to questions regarding when a driver's personal insurance kicked in, or if Uber's insurance was responsible.
This put drivers and passengers at risk of being uninsured if an accident occurred.
California insurance law catching up to new technologies
Fortunately, California law recently changed to require Uber and other ridesharing companies to carry additional insurance coverage when having their Uber app open waiting to pick up riders. In addition, UberX drivers are now covered by Uber insurance from the time they turn on their app until they are finished carrying passengers.
This comes as welcome news to ridesharing app users, who previously may have been put at risk of being uninsured if injured while using Uber, Lyft or other transportation network companies. The question is more than just a technical issue. In 2013, an UberX driver who was not carrying passengers struck and killed a child pedestrian while waiting to get a customer. Uber claimed it was not responsible to pay damages in that case.
Personal injury claims are about insurance
Admittedly, insurance law is not always engaging. But people need to get paid under their claims after suffering an injury in a car accident. In personal injury cases, particularly car accidents, people who have been injured are really in a fight with insurers. The fight could involve the insurance company of the driver responsible for your injuries, or your own insurance, particularly if you have been injured in a hit-and-run or by an uninsured driver and have uninsured motorist coverage.
In the case of ridesharing companies, the insurance carrier for the company itself may be responsible for paying injury and property damage claims.
Ridesharing companies forced to increase insurance during "Period 1"
Last year, California's law mandating insurance coverage for drivers in between passengers went into effect. It is still early to determine how successful the law is at protecting riders, but the law eliminates certain questions of who is responsible for paying for injuries when an accident occurs during "Period 1" (the technical term for when a driver has turned on their Uber app but is not currently taking a passenger).
Not all ridesharing insurance matters are settled
While California's law clarifies some aspects of insurance liability, questions remain. For example, Uber drivers who are not carrying passengers may be facing legal difficulties if hit by an uninsured driver. Uber has long denied being responsible for covering the costs of such accidents. Approximately 15 percent of drivers in California do not have insurance coverage, and more carry inadequate insurance to cover the cost of serious injuries.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, who is responsible for paying for the cost of your injuries can depend greatly on the circumstances of your accident. A personal injury lawyer can help if you have further questions on how to get financial help associated with the costs of your recovery.