If you were the victim of a car accident while using a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for any injuries you sustained from the crash. However, you will want the help of an experienced rideshare accident lawyer. A rideshare accident is a little more complex than your typical car accident since there is another party involved. Take a look at how Missouri law applies to rideshare drivers and their passengers.

Who Is Liable in a Car Accident When Using Uber and Lyft?

Rideshare accidents follow the same liability rules that other car accidents follow in the state of Missouri. Whoever is deemed liable for the accident will have to pay the damages of the other parties involved. When a driver is liable, their auto insurance company typically covers the bill using liability coverage.

How does this affect you as a passenger, and who should you file a personal injury lawsuit against if you are an accident victim in a rideshare accident?

A Paying Passenger Is Never Held Liable for Rideshare Accidents

Even though rideshare companies are a relatively new concept, the idea of paying someone else for a ride is not. Taxis in Missouri have been governed by laws protecting passengers for decades. Those laws were updated in 2016 to set rules for Uber and Lyft drivers. Missouri statute 379.1702 refers to rideshare companies as “transportation network companies” and sets rules for every rideshare driver to follow. A rideshare driver must have at least one million dollars of liability coverage.

This coverage applies to you as a passenger of a “prearranged ride.” Essentially, when you make a ride request and a rideshare driver accepts that request, you are protected by their liability coverage. Therefore, you should never have to pay for damages caused by a rideshare accident. However, what happens if your rideshare driver doesn’t have this insurance as they’re supposed to?

The Rideshare Company Has Additional Liability Coverage for an Uninsured Motorist

In the event that the rideshare driver does not have insurance coverage, Missouri law specifies that the rideshare company becomes responsible for the damages related to the car accident. Every rideshare company must have additional insurance as well in the event that the driver’s insurance coverage isn’t enough to cover the damages from the car accident. However, the one million dollar limit still applies.

So, whether you’re riding with Uber or Lyft, or any other company, you should be fully covered in the event of a rideshare accident. Nevertheless, the Uber or Lyft driver’s personal auto insurance policies may deny your insurance claim if the rideshare driver was not the at-fault vehicle in the accident. Consider how Missouri’s at-fault law works and how it may affect your lawsuit.

Missouri Holds the At-Fault Driver Liable

Insurance companies always want to avoid making payments when accidents occur. Even though Uber and Lyft drivers have plenty of liability insurance, the insurance company will try to put the responsibility on the other driver in the accident wherever possible. This is supported by Missouri’s comparative fault law. Determining liability in Missouri requires there to be an at fault driver. This is the person who was most responsible for the accident.

Liability is determined primarily by the police report filed after the accident. In a rideshare car accident, you can play a crucial role as a witness. If you saw the events that led to the rideshare crash, you can have your testimony added to the police report. If you didn’t see what happened, the police will rely on other witnesses and analyze the car crash to determine who was at fault. What happens next depends on who is at fault.

When The Rideshare Driver Is the At Fault Party

When Uber and Lyft drivers are held liable for a ridesharing accident, this is actually the best case scenario for you. Since Uber and Lyft drivers are required to have more liability insurance than a normal driver, there’s more insurance coverage available to cover your medical bills or property damage. Even if your Uber or Lyft driver doesn’t have the liability insurance they should, ridesharing companies must carry insurance to cover you.

After a rideshare accident, the ridesharing company has to send you the driver’s insurance information. You can file an insurance claim with that car insurance company and recover compensation for your medical bills or any other expenses.

When a Third Party Driver Is Responsible for the Accident

If another driver is responsible for the ridesharing accident, the situation may be more complicated. That driver may be an underinsured motorist that lacks auto insurance or isn’t sufficiently insured to cover your medical expenses. Your own auto insurance company may give you the runaround, telling you to file a claim instead with the insurance company that covers the rideshare vehicle. Meanwhile, the insurance policy that applies to the rideshare vehicle might ignore you as they blame the third party driver.

Regardless of who is at fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney with experience in dealing with rideshare car accidents. Determining liability is complicated, and filing a lawsuit even more so. You should never have to rely on your personal auto insurance coverage when you were not one of the drivers involved in the ridesharing car accident.

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help With a Rideshare Accident Case?

A skilled lawyer can bring clarity to an accident involving rideshare drivers. First, look for a law firm that offers a free consultation for cases involving car accidents. You should not have to pay to discuss your situation with a lawyer. During your meeting, your lawyer will examine the facts and determine who should be the target of your lawsuit.

Bring your personal auto insurance policy as well as any documents you have from the accident. Bring proof of your medical costs as well so that your lawyer can determine what would be fair compensation in your case. Don’t worry if you are missing some items. Your lawyer can subpoena individuals and organizations like rideshare services to get the documents you need for a successful lawsuit. Next, there are several approaches that your lawyer can take depending on the circumstances.

Challenging the Liability Determined by Police

Establishing liability is not always as simple as reading the final report made by police. There may be additional information that the police did not take into account. For example, your rideshare driver may have had a vehicle malfunction due to a lack of auto repairs, making them more liable than originally thought. Your lawyer could determine this by subpoenaing the driver for repair records.

Your lawyer can also seek more evidence from the case. For instance, nearby shops or residences could have security cameras that shed more light on the case. It’s important that you act quickly; the longer you take to speak to a lawyer, the harder it is to gather evidence about the case.

Challenging the Insurance Company

You can bring the details of your personal insurance policy to your lawyer, but your lawyer will still need to compare the insurance policies of the other drivers. When a driver’s insurance provider tries to avoid paying you your fair share, your lawyer can pressure them to do so. If one driver was uninsured, your lawyer may also be able to lean on the other party’s insurance coverage to get compensation for your injuries.

More importantly, if an insurance provider has offered you a settlement, your lawyer can review the deal and negotiate for more. Even when insurers do offer a settlement, their offers tend to be low. You deserve to be made whole. Before you sign any agreement with an insurance company, be sure to have a lawyer review it. You cannot sue once you accept a settlement.

Challenging Rideshare Services

When an accident occurs while using a rideshare app, the at-fault driver is the first person to be held liable. However, rideshare services also have an obligation to vet their drivers and ensure that they meet certain requirements. Because the drivers are independent contractors, rideshare companies will try to avoid any responsibility. However, if they were negligent in hiring a driver with many previous driving infractions or a vehicle in poor condition, they could be held liable for the accident.

If the total liability from the accident exceeds the driver’s policy limits but is still beneath the million-dollar threshold established by law, then the rideshare company has the obligation to cover the difference. If they refuse to do so, legal action could be warranted.

Preparing Your Personal Injury Claim

After your lawyer has examined your case and determined who is most responsible for the accident, that party can be named as the defendant in your case. Your lawyer will then need to calculate the amount of damages in your case so that you can claim them for compensation. Add up all of your expenses, including any medical bills, vehicle repairs, and insurance payments. You can also add up time that you missed from work to account for lost wages.

You may also sue for an additional amount to account for pain and suffering. Your lawyer can recommend the ideal amount to sue for.

Get the Compensation You Deserve With a Lawyer’s Help

When multiple parties are involved in an accident, it can be difficult to get clear answers and even more difficult to get proper compensation. Legal counsel and action can help you understand the best way to approach the situation and seek the compensation you’re entitled to.

Contact Herman Schiavone, LLC by calling 816-399-5149 to schedule a free meeting with a lawyer to discuss your rideshare accident.