Rideshare services are becoming increasingly popular across the Seattle metropolitan area. While companies like Uber and Lyft help thousands of Washington residents commute to work and enjoy nights out on the town, accidents still happen with alarming regularity.
Unfortunately, obtaining fair compensation after a rideshare-related collision can be difficult. Even if you have a seemingly open-and-shut case, Uber or Lyft could try to limit their liability by demanding you file a claim with the driver’s insurance company rather than their own liability policy.
However, under the Evergreen State’s revised rideshare-related laws, you may have a right to a fair recovery.
Rideshare Services Rarely Hold Their Drivers to a Professional Standard
Uber and Lyft, along with their smaller competitors, rarely hold their contracted drivers to any particular standard. An Uber driver, for instance, doesn’t need to have a chauffeur’s license or a commercial driver’s license, and they don’t need to undergo intensive training to ensure the safety of their passengers.
Under most circumstances, a prospective driver need only meet the following requirements:
- The applicant must be an adult.
- They must have their own automobile and a driver’s license.
- They must also have at least one year of prior driving experience.
Rideshare Drivers and Automobile Accidents
Since Uber drivers don’t need to be any more qualified than other motorists, they share a similar risk of being involved in traffic accidents. A rideshare driver could cause a collision if they’re:
- Driving recklessly or faster than the posted speed limit
- Operating a motor vehicle while fatigued
- Failing to perform necessary maintenance, including the replacement of critical automotive components such as brake pads and airbags
However, even when a rideshare driver’s clear-cut negligence causes or contributes to an accident, survivors might be stonewalled by Uber or Lyft support.
Liability After a Seattle-area Rideshare Car Crash
Washington has a fault-based insurance system. After an automobile accident, victims have a legal right to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, filing an insurance claim after being involved in a rideshare-related accident poses unexpected challenges. Depending on the circumstances of your Seattle-area Uber or Lyft crash, you may have to determine who, exactly, should be held liable for your injuries.
The potential defendants in a rideshare accident claim could include any of the following:
The rideshare driver
Uber and Lyft don’t employ drivers. Instead, they hire independent contractors who set their own schedules and use their personal vehicles. Since Uber and Lyft drivers aren’t technically considered corporate employees, their employers aren’t necessarily liable for any negligent acts they commit on the clock.
The rideshare company
It could be held liable for the costs of a collision if its negligent practices caused or contributed to the accident. If Uber, for instance, hired a driver with a history of committing serious moving violations, it could be found partially responsible for the victim’s damages.
Sometimes rideshare drivers are involved in accidents caused by other motorists. As a rideshare passenger, if you suffered injuries as a result, then the at-fault driver and their insurance company are responsible for reimbursing your losses.
Uber and Lyft’s Insurance Policy Limits
While many rideshare accident claims are handled by the driver’s insurance carrier, most major rideshare companies—including Uber and Lyft—maintain separate liability policies that can compensate victims in the event of a serious accident. These policies provide benefits for physical injuries, medical expenses, and even wrongful death.
Uber, for instance, has a three-period insurance policy:
- Period 1. This covers any accident that occurs when an Uber or Lyft driver is active on the rideshare application but hasn’t yet accepted a ride.
- Period 2. This applies to any accident that occurs when a driver has accepted a ride request but hasn’t yet reached the passenger’s location.
- Period 3. This covers any accident that occurs when the rideshare driver has a passenger inside the vehicle.
Uber has a $1 million liability policy that covers most passengers and motorists injured in Period 2 and Period 3 accidents. Lyft has similar policies, with slightly different rules for rideshare customers in New York state.
How to Protect Your Right to Recovery After a Seattle Rideshare Accident
If you or a loved one were injured in a Seattle-area Uber or Lyft accident that wasn’t your fault, you should protect your rights to a legal recovery by taking the following steps.
Washington state law requires that motorists report any accident involving significant property damage, personal injury, or death. Even if you don’t believe you’re responsible for reporting the accident, the investigating officer’s report could help your attorney establish liability for the crash.
Seek immediate medical attention
You should always get prompt medical attention after an accident, even if it seems you weren’t seriously injured. A physician can help you identify, diagnose, and treat injuries that may have been masked by shock or adrenaline. Furthermore, seeing a doctor shows the insurance company that you have serious concerns about your physical well-being and aren’t simply trying to get compensation for personal gain.
If you don’t need emergency medical treatment, try to collect evidence from the crash site. Evidence could include pictures of the damage to your vehicle, photographs of your physical injuries, and an audio recording detailing the events leading up to the accident.
Speak to eyewitnesses
Eyewitness testimony can make or break personal injury cases. If another person saw your Seattle rideshare accident, ask them for their full name, phone number, and other contact information—their testimony could prove critically important in court.