Tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers cruise the streets of Southern California. Some of these drivers cause car accidents. So, who pays you if an Uber driver hits your car and injures you and your passengers?
As a car accident victim, you are entitled to compensation for your all your damages. This includes expenses related to any personal injuries, pain and suffering, and auto accident damage. The at-fault driver’s auto insurance should pay you.
But when the at-fault driver is an independent contractor with a rideshare company, a car accident victim has to figure out which insurance applies to the crash. Surprisingly, this might be a challenge. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will investigate the accident, review the relevant insurance policies, and develop an effective plan to get you properly compensated.
The Driver’s Insurance Coverage Period Determines Which Insurance Policy Applies and The Amount of Coverage
California categorizes Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies as transportation network companies (TNCs). In 2014, California added new provisions to the Public Utilities Code requiring TNCs and their drivers to have specified amounts of liability insurance coverage.
Time Frames Included In Coverage Periods
The new law requires one level of coverage if a passenger is in the driver’s car, and a different level when a driver is waiting to be called. After California enacted this law, insurance companies created four insurance coverage periods for drivers. The periods correspond with a driver’s use of the TNC smartphone app:
- Period 0: Whenever a driver’s TNC app is off. This is generally when a driver is driving the vehicle for personal use
- Period 1: When a driver has the TNC app turned on and the driver is waiting for a ride request
- Period 2: After a driver accepts a ride request and before the driver picks up the passenger
- Period 3: The entire time a passenger is in the rideshare vehicle
Liability Limits for Each Coverage Period
The amount of liability insurance coverage available to pay for auto accident damage correlates with the coverage periods.
- Period 0: A driver’s personal auto insurance policy applies.
- Period 1: Drivers’ personal auto insurance policies only apply if the policies specify coverage for ridesharing or commercial activities. By law, the TNC’s insurance policy is the primary policy if an accident occurs. The minimum amount of TNC liability insurance required is
- $50,000 per person for death and personal injury
- $100,000 per incident for death and personal injury
- $30,000 for auto accident damage to property
- Period 2 and Period 3: The TNC full liability insurance policies apply. Coverage limits for each accident are $1 million in liability insurance and $1 million in uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance.
For period 1, TNCs are also required to maintain excess insurance coverage of at least $200,000 per incident. It is unclear exactly when this excess coverage might apply. Accident victims should enlist the help of a car accident attorney with years of experience interpreting insurance policies and making successful liability claims.
California Law and the Insurance Polices Explain What Auto Accident Damage is Covered
TNC insurance coverage is generous when compared to the state minimum liability insurance requirements. The uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is also generous, especially given that California drivers, including taxi drivers, are not required to carry UM/UIM insurance.
To illustrate the difference between liability coverage for rideshare drivers and non-commercial drivers, here are California’s minimum insurance amounts:
- $15,000 per person for death or injury
- $30,000 per accident for death or injury
- $5,000 for auto accident damage to property
Liability insurance covers all auto accident damage. This includes:
- bodily injury
- emotional distress
- pain and suffering
- loss of enjoyment in life
- necessary treatments an
- transportation for medical and therapy appointments
- lost wages
- loss of work opportunities and promotions
- car repairs
- alternate transportation after the wreck
- damage to personal property in the vehicle
- other losses and expenses related to the car accident.
Rideshare Insurance Policies Are Still Evolving
Although TNC insurance coverage appears generous, that doesn’t mean that receiving payment for auto accident damage is easy. If an Uber driver hits your car, you may have to go through a lengthy process before receiving any compensation for your injuries. The insurance companies, the TNCs, and the drivers are still figuring out how to handle rideshare insurance policy claims.
A car accident attorney experienced at navigating insurance claim processes can help you through this process. Working with a skilled attorney means your payout will probably be higher and you will receive your money faster than if you proceed unrepresented.
The first step in these claims is proving that the rideshare driver was at fault. Next, you have to identify which coverage period the driver was in. Based on the coverage period, you may first need to file a claim with the driver’s personal insurance. If the insurance company denies the claim, or your damages exceed the policy limits, you will need to file a claim with the TNC’s insurance company. Then, if the TNC insurance company denies your claim, you must negotiate with the insurance company to obtain the compensation you deserve.
If reading through these steps is making you dizzy, imagine having to go through each step. Also, progress through an insurance claim is not necessarily linear. It often feels like you take one step forward and then two steps backward. In my 35 years of advocating for car crash victims, I have developed systems for moving insurance claims efficiently through the claims process. I have also learned the most persuasive arguments to ensure faster settlements that appropriately compensate victims.
Contact a Long Beach Car Accident Lawyer if an Uber Driver Hits Your Car
Your Injuries Are Personal To Me
If a rideshare driver has hurt you in a car accident, call me today. I offer a free consultation to discuss your options. You deserve maximum compensation for your injuries. So, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks now to ensure you have an experienced car accident attorney looking out for your interests. Because your injuries are personal to me, I handle all aspects of your claim.
I offer bilingual services and I am available 24/7 to talk to you about your case. Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
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