When you get into a ride-sharing vehicle using a smartphone app, most of the time you will get to your destination in Philadelphia without an incident. When something does go wrong, however, there are likely some questions that you will have about what to do.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that we get as personal injury lawyers who regularly represent clients who have been hurt by a ride-sharing driver from Lyft, Uber, or other ride-sharing company in Philadelphia.
Are All Ride-Sharing Drivers Insured in Philadelphia?
Typically, they are. Lyft, Uber, and the other major ride-sharing companies require drivers to prove that they have the necessary insurance coverage during their application process. Without adequate insurance, applicants are not supposed to be able to use the ride-sharing application and pick up passengers.
However, ride-sharing companies have also shown that they are more interested in getting as many cars on the road as possible. When that interest conflicts with a driver's lack of insurance coverage, ride-sharing companies in Philadelphia have shown a worrying tendency to put them on the road anyway. For example, most ride-sharing companies require their drivers to notify the company if the driver's insurance status has changed – something that drivers never do because they know that it would end of their days as a ride-sharing driver. As a result, there are numerous ride-sharing drivers on the roads who are not adequately insured.
What Kind of Insurance Will Cover an Accident With a Ride-Sharing Driver?
It depends on the specific details of the accident, particularly whether there was a passenger in the ride-sharing vehicle at the time of the incident.
If there was a passenger in the car at the time of the accident, then the ride-sharing company's insurance policy is supposed to apply to the situation. Uber and Lyft both have insurance policies that cover up to one million dollars in damages for these cases. However, there are numerous loopholes in this coverage that they use to escape liability whenever they can.
When the ride-sharing driver was not using the smartphone application at the time of the accident – or was not in “drive mode” – then their personal insurance company should cover the incident. In these cases, the ride-sharing driver is essentially a regular driver, like a taxi cab or bus driver who is off duty and on the road for personal reasons.
In between these extremes is the murky situation where a ride-sharing driver is on the clock, but without a passenger. Here, ride-sharing companies are likely to be able to escape without covering the incident, leaving it up to the driver's personal insurance policy to cover the damages.
Which Insurance is Better for Victims? A Ride-Sharing Driver or a Taxi Cab?
In Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania, the minimum insurance coverage for ride-sharing drivers is far superior and provides much more protection than the minimum coverage for taxi cabs.
52 Pa.C.S. § 32.11 requires taxi cabs to carry insurance policies that cover bodily injuries for at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per crash. Meanwhile, the recently-passed Pennsylvania Ride-Sharing Act requires all ride-sharing drivers to carry at least $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and at least $100,000 per accident. Therefore, victims in accidents involving ride-sharing drivers should be able to count on insurance policies that are far more extensive than those covering taxi cabs.
What if I Was a Passenger in the Ride-Sharing Vehicle?
Passengers in a ride-sharing vehicle should be able to count on the ride-sharing company's $1 million insurance coverage in the event of a crash because their presence means that the driver was in “drive mode” on the ride-sharing program and had a passenger. Further, ride-sharing companies take more care to protect their passengers than other victims in a crash – like pedestrians, people in other vehicles, or even the driver.
Can I Sue the Ride-Sharing Company After a Crash?
The answer is rarely, and this is the big difference between ride-sharing companies and other professional driving companies like a bus, taxi, or truck company.
Other professional carriers have drivers who are their employees. This tight connection with their drivers means that companies become implicated when their drivers act negligently while on the job. The driver's liability gets imputed onto the company that was benefitting from their presence on the road.
Ride-sharing companies, however, have stressed that their drivers are not employees--they are independent contractors whose negligence does not extend to the company they work for. However, ride-sharing companies also try to control their drivers to such an extent that lawsuits have been filed over whether their drivers should be deemed employees, anyway. Overcoming a company's claim that their drivers are independent contractors rather than employees is both incredibly difficult and essential for a successful personal injury case.
What Happens if My Driver Assaulted Me During My Ride?
This problem is quickly becoming one of the most difficult and intense issues in the ride-sharing world in Philadelphia. In many cases that get reported, police will investigate and criminal charges can be filed that lead to the driver's conviction. However, these criminal convictions do not help the victims of an assault.
A personal injury lawsuit for assault and battery can be an option. However, insurance companies are rarely going to cover intentional conduct like a physical or sexual assault, and the ride-sharing drivers are rarely able to pay for the costs of a verdict out of their own pocket.
Implicating the ride-sharing company in these situations, though, is not as rare as it seems. If there were indications that the driver had a dangerous background, but the ride-sharing company let them pick up passengers, anyway, the personal injury lawsuit could include the ride-sharing company through a claim of negligent hiring and argue that they should pay for putting you in harm's way.
Gilman & Bedigian Represent Victims of Ride-Sharing Companies in Philadelphia
If you have been hurt by a ride-sharing driver, you need legal help to recover the compensation you need. The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact them online.