Who is Liable for Injuries in a Lyft or Uber Accident?

Uber and Lyft are rideshare apps that have taken the world by storm. Everyone is either using them to get where they want to go or using them to make money. But what happens when there is an Uber accident? It seems like they hire anyone, so who is responsible for your injuries and property damage? What if you’re the passenger? Driver? Third party? The goal of this page is to help clear up some of those questions for California residents, so that you know what to talk to your personal injury attorney about.


Rideshare Liability

Generally speaking, if you have been involved in a Lyft or Uber accident, you were either a passenger, an Uber or Lyft driver, or a third-party. And, for the most part, when you find yourself in an Uber or Lyft accident the standard traffic accident personal injury laws of California apply. The difference, and it is an important one, is where the money comes from. Lyft and Uber obviously have deeper pockets than even the driver that drives full-time.

When You Are the Passenger

If you are a passenger involved in a Lyft or Uber accident and the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault, in most cases their insurance policies will cover you (for policy details see below). While it is possible that the company may try to deny legal liability on the basis that their drivers are not technically employees, recently a California federal judge declared that passengers could still sue Uber and Lyft.

In the unlikely event that Uber or Lyft find some way to skirt around this ruling, you also have the option available to you to sue the Uber or Lyft driver directly. The concern in that situation is the ability for the driver to pay. If the driver at fault is a third-party driver, Uber or Lyft’s insurance policies may still cover you, or you can visit our car accidents page to look into suing the third-party driver directly.

Third-Party Liability

If you were not the Uber or Lyft driver in an accident, and your driver was not at fault, your options will depend on the status of the Uber or Lyft driver. If the driver did not have their application open, then their personal insurance will apply. If the other driver was waiting for a trip, or on a trip, the insurance policies mentioned below take effect and you may be able to bring a claim against Uber or Lyft as discussed previously. If you find yourself in an Uber or Lyft accident as a third-party, we recommend contacting a injury attorney as they are best situated to get as much compensation as possible in either situation.

Uber or Lyft Driver Liability

The Uber or Lyft driver in the accident has it a little easier regarding insurance. It will all depend on whether you were driving with the app off, waiting for a trip, or on the way to pick up a passenger. This is all explained in the next section, “Uber and Lyft Insurance Policies.”

Uber Lyft Accident Insurance Liability Responsibility

Uber and Lyft Insurance Policies

Uber and Lyft have interesting insurance policies in that they recognize three different statuses for the driver and handle them very similarly:

  1. Offline
  2. Online without an accepted trip
  3. Accepted a trip

Regardless of the service, if the driver is offline (the app is turned off), they are covered only by their personal car insurance. The only exception to this is with regard to Lyft drivers who rent their vehicles from General Motors (GM). In that case, GM’s insurance policy provides coverage when the driver has the Lyft app turned off as well.

The second status is online without an accepted trip. This is when the Uber or Lyft driver is cruising around waiting for their app to match them up with a passenger. While this is going on both companies have insurance policies that cover $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. Lyft’s version of this insurance policy is in excess to car insurance meaning that yours will kick in first, and then theirs on top of it. Uber’s policy, on the other hand, is present to make sure you meet these amounts.

When an Uber or Lyft driver have accepted a trip, once again, both companies have insurance policies in place. Of note, however, is that the policies increase to coverage of $1 million per accident. Additionally, there is a $1 million policy for uninsured or under insured drivers. If in your personal policy you have collision or comprehensive coverage, both companies have policies in place to help with physical damage to your property.

How Can I Avoid this Confusing Situation?

The unfortunate reality is that avoiding a Lyft or Uber accident is as possible as avoiding any car accident. You are never expecting them, you just suddenly find yourself in one. Drive defensively, keep an eye out before crossing streets, and follow all the rules your parents nagged you about when you first got your license for the best results.

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