As ridesharing continues to gain in popularity, so does the potential for accidents involving Uber, Lyft and other hired vehicles. When passengers and other people get hurt, they need to know where to turn for financial compensation. Is it the driver, the company that provides the hiring service, or both?
Although drivers for transportation network companies (TNCs) are independent contractors, not employees, the companies’ commercial liability insurance is triggered when a driver gets into an accident while signed into the rideshare app and accepting fares. Uber and Lyft have $1 million-plus insurance policies that apply in this situation. The companies also have $1 million-plus policies covering accidents caused by underinsured motorists (UIM).
When an accident occurs while the driver is available but not carrying a passenger — known as gap time — the company is required by New York law to provide coverage of at least $75,000 per injured person and $150,000 per accident. This applies to injuries suffered by pedestrians, bicyclists or drivers and passengers in other vehicles. When the driver is not signed into the rideshare app and is not accepting passengers, the TNC is not responsible and the driver’s personal automobile policy is implicated. The driver may have purchased additional coverage under his or her policy in consideration of possible claims related to rideshare work.
If you are hurt as a passenger in a rideshare accident, there are some limitations on your ability to sue for damages. By hiring the vehicle through the app, you agree to certain terms, including the requirement that claims generally must be resolved through arbitration. That means a private dispute resolution forum without the right to a jury trial or to appeal.
In addition, New York’s no-fault insurance law applies, whether you are injured as a passenger or as a third party. That means you must initially look to your own insurance company for reimbursement of your medical bills, loss of wages and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. Only if your injuries are serious enough to exceed your no-fault claim limits can you bring a claim against the rideshare company or driver.
The Licatesi Law Group, LLP helps win compensation for victims of rideshare-related accidents. Arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation with one of our experienced New York attorneys by calling us at (516) 227-2662 or contact us online at our Uniondale or Brooklyn office.
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