Ride-sharing companies, such as Lyft and Uber, are changing the way that people travel. Instead of public transit or taxis, more people are turning to private drivers. They are cheaper than a limousine service, but more personal and convenient than at taxi. While ride-sharing certainly has its place, there is a big issue regarding liability – more specifically, who is liable when an accident occurs and a ride-sharing passenger is injured?
What is Ride-Sharing?
Ride-sharing companies offer transportation alternatives to those who want to avoid public transit, taxis, or even relying on friends or family to get them around. Ride-sharing drivers use their own vehicles, and are contacted via a mobile app. The mobile app is offered through the ride-sharing company and connects the driver with those who need a ride. The driver, in these cases, uses his or her own vehicle’s insurance, as well – and he or she is typically only required to carry personal liability insurance. This means that his or her passengers may not be adequately covered in the event that there is an accident. Personal liability insurance only covers the driver – not the passengers. Taxi drivers, for example, are required to carry commercial liability insurance – which does cover the passengers.
Who is Liable?
In accidents involving ride-sharing, proving liability has posed as an issue in the past. That is because ride-sharing companies make it clear that their drivers are not employees; instead, they are independent contractors. Because they are not employees, ride-sharing companies state that they are not liable for the actions of the drivers. In general liability, it is true that employers are only liable for their employees, but this does not excuse ride-sharing services.
Using Preventative Measures
While the courts and law catches up with ride-sharing services, passengers are better off preventing issues in the event that they use ride sharing services. First, you should be familiar with your own insurance policy. Also, if you are using a ride-sharing service, make sure that service has general liability that applies to their passengers and drivers. You can view the type of vehicle that you wish to pick you up, as well, when you are using a ride-sharing service. Avoid cars that you would not drive yourself, or cars that you may be uncomfortable in, such as a two-door sedan.
If you plan to use ride-sharing services regularly, it may be in your best interest to develop a rapport with certain drivers, and use them exclusively. That way, you know their driving habits.
If you are injured in an accident involving a ride-sharing vehicle, you will want to contact an attorney immediately. The Chicago accident team at Malman Law can assist you with your claim. We understand the complexities in ride-sharing accidents, and can represent your case. Contact us now for a consultation; fill out our online contact form with your questions.