Driving for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft is becoming increasingly popular. Demand continues to grow as many people opt to make money using the convenience and control that come from working on their own schedule rather than maintaining a set work week.
Though driving is not necessarily considered a risky job, it can certainly result in serious, unexpected injuries.
Whether driving with a passenger or on your way to pick someone up, it is important that rideshare drivers understand their legal rights to compensation if an accident occurs. This includes rideshare accidents involving uninsured drivers. Here are some of the things you should know.
New Jersey Rideshare Insurance Coverage
Rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors rather than employees of the company they represent. Companies like Uber and Lyft, with this type of business structure, are not required to provide drivers with any employment benefits and are only required to pay for work that has been completed.
New Jersey is a “no-fault” state, meaning that your own insurance company will help pay a portion of the accident expenses regardless of who caused the accident.
All New Jersey drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP), but that may not always cover the associated expenses, and unfortunately, not all drivers are compliant with insurance mandates.
All transportation network carriers (TNCs)—such as rideshare drivers in New Jersey—are required to have a Rideshare Endorsement in addition to their PIP insurance. In other words, rideshare drivers must carry $1.5 million in liability coverage and 1.5 million in uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage and must carry proof of insurance at all times.
Uber and Lyft Company Insurance
Rideshare companies carry insurance that applies to all their drivers in the amount of $1 million per accident for injuries and property damage. However, this insurance only applies after the driver’s insurance has been exhausted.
Rideshare Accidents Involving Uninsured Drivers
No one wants to experience that awkward moment when you ask the at-fault driver for their insurance information, and they don’t have any. In some cases, they may believe they have adequate insurance when, in fact, their policy has been canceled or is insufficient to help cover the extent of the damage.
Luckily, both Uber and Lyft carry uninsured and underinsured policies for all drivers. Your driving status at the time of the accident will determine whether the company’s insurance applies. Here is what both rideshare companies offer:
- One and a half million dollars in third-party liability uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage applies to accidents that are caused by another driver who does not have car insurance. This coverage is available to pay the costs of injuries to the rideshare driver and passengers in the vehicle.
- One and a half million dollars in underinsured motorist coverage. This applies to accidents caused by parties other than the rideshare driver when such parties do not have enough protection to cover all the damages. For example, if a motorist runs a red light and crashes into a rideshare vehicle carrying a passenger—but that motorist does not have adequate insurance—the passengers can look to the rideshare company’s insurance for additional compensation.
Though coverage may seem straightforward, getting the compensation you deserve may become more complicated when the other party is at fault, and their policy is the primary source of compensation. The rideshare company’s coverage is secondary, and it can only be accessed if you are actively using the app.
Does the Rideshare Company’s Insurance Apply?
Though rideshare companies provide uninsured and underinsured coverage to protect their drivers and passengers, getting them to pay up may require some effort. Any time you are dealing with serious injuries or third-party insurance, it is very helpful to have an experienced Uber and Lyft accident attorney on your side.
Whether or not you can access the rideshare company’s insurance depends on the engaged status of the rideshare driver at the time of the accident. Here are the different statuses and how the company’s insurance would apply in each case.
- Offline Driver—An offline driver is in their vehicle but not using the rideshare app. In this case, the rideshare company’s insurance would not apply at all.
- Available Driver—A driver is their vehicle with the rideshare app on, and they are waiting for a passenger to accept a ride. If an accident occurs during this time and exceeds the driver’s policy limits, the rideshare company’s insurance could apply after the at-fault party’s coverage is applied.
- En Route—A driver is on their way to pick up a passenger, which means that they are actively working for the company. If an accident occurs during this time, the company insurance could be applied after the at-fault party’s insurance.
- On a Trip—When the driver is actively taking the rideshare passenger to their destination, the full amount of the company’s insurance policy is available after the at-fault party’s coverage is applied.
It is a good idea to take screenshots of your trip on the app when an accident occurs. This can help you prove that you were actively working for the company. When a driver is actively engaged and working for the company, the full amount of the company insurance coverage should be available if the at-fault driver does not have insurance.
Screenshots can also help prove the time and location of the accident, which means you will have less evidence to gather later on. You may also want to consider taking photos of the scene of the accident to help your Lyft and Uber accident attorney prove who was responsible in case it becomes a point of contention in the case.
Contact a Lyft and Uber Accident Lawyer
Rideshare accidents can become complicated very quickly, especially for rideshare accidents involving uninsured drivers. Do not let that deter you from receiving the compensation you deserve.
The experienced personal injury lawyers at Glugeth & Pierguidi, P.C. understand what it takes to win against big corporations and insurance companies. We have obtained multi-million dollar results for New Jersey injury victims over the past three decades and are here to help. Contact us to schedule your case consultation.