How to Determine Liability in a Ridesharing Accident

By Jeremy Bradford
Founding Partner

Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way we travel, but with this convenience comes a new set of challenges, especially when accidents occur. Navigating the landscape of liability in a ridesharing accident is complex due to the unique business models of these companies. Understanding how these complexities impact the process of determining fault is crucial, as is knowing the role of insurance companies in such accidents. 

What Is Liability in a Ridesharing Accident?

Liability in a ridesharing accident refers to the legal responsibility for damages resulting from the accident. This may fall on the rideshare driver, another driver involved, or even the rideshare company itself, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Determining liability requires an examination of many factors. This includes the rideshare driver’s status at the time of the accident (whether they were logged into the app, awaiting a ride request, or transporting a passenger), the details of the accident, and the laws of the state where the accident occurred. Therefore, understanding liability in a ridesharing accident requires a nuanced approach. Often times this involves intricate insurance issues and state-specific legislation.

Ridesharing Companies and Their Insurance Policies

Ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, have unique insurance policies that come into play when an accident occurs. These policies provide coverage based on four periods: 

  • Period 0: The driver is not logged into the app and driver mode is off. The vehicle is being used for personal use.
  • Period 1: The driver is logged into the app, but has not yet accepted a ride request.
  • Period 2: The driver has accepted a ride and is en route to pick up the passenger.
  • Period 3: The passenger is in the vehicle. This period ends when the passenger reaches their destination.

The level of insurance coverage varies across these periods, with the highest coverage typically provided during Periods 2 and 3. It is important to note that while in Period 0, Ridesharing companies do not provide insurance coverage. The driver’s personal automobile insurance policy provides coverage. However, when a driver is furnishing their personal vehicle for ridesharing during Period’s 1, 2, and 3, their personal automobile insurance policy likely does not apply. Most personal automobile insurance policies have a coverage exclusion when a driver is logged into and using a ridesharing app.  

As an increasing number of drivers choose to work for multiple ridesharing companies, drivers are often simultaneously logged into multiple ridesharing apps. Thus, a driver could be in distinct different Periods for each rideshare app they are presently logged into. This creates a complex overlap in liability insurance coverages responsibility. Navigating these insurance intricacies is a crucial aspect of determining liability in a ridesharing accident.

How Liability Works in a Ridesharing Accident

In a ridesharing accident, determining who is liable depends heavily on the specific circumstances of the accident. Here are two common scenarios and the typical liability implications:

  • Rideshare Driver at Fault: If the rideshare driver is responsible for the accident, their personal insurance or the ridesharing company’s insurance, depending on the period, may cover the damages. However, if their personal insurance doesn’t cover ridesharing activities, the company’s insurance may be applicable.
  • Another Driver at Fault: If another driver causes the accident, their personal auto insurance should cover the damages. However, if their insurance is insufficient, underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage provided by the ridesharing company may apply.

North Carolina Ridesharing Laws and Regulation

In North Carolina, laws and regulations applicable to ridesharing companies are contained within Article 10A of Chapter 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Article 10A is titled, “Transportation Network Companies,” which serves as another term for ridesharing companies.

Under North Carolina law, ridesharing companies are required to maintain certain levels of insurance coverage for their drivers. This includes liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and contingent collision and comprehensive coverage. However, these coverages only apply if the driver is logged into the app and are tiered based on whether the driver is waiting for a ride request, en route to pick up a passenger, or transporting a passenger. Understanding these intricacies is key in pursuing compensation after a ridesharing accident in North Carolina.

Role of Personal Injury Attorneys in Ridesharing Accidents

A personal injury attorney plays a crucial role in ridesharing accident cases. One of their primary responsibilities is to help establish liability, which can be a complex process given the unique nature of ridesharing services. An experienced attorney will understand the nuances of ridesharing companies’ insurance policies, the legal landscape surrounding these services, and the state-specific laws that apply. They can conduct an in-depth investigation, gather the necessary evidence, and construct a strong case to prove liability.

Furthermore, personal injury attorneys are instrumental in dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies often employ tactics to minimize payouts. Without legal representation, victims may struggle to receive full and fair compensation. A knowledgeable attorney can effectively negotiate with insurance companies on the client’s behalf, ensuring that their rights are protected. They can navigate the intricate insurance matters, handle claim processes, and if necessary, take the case to court to secure the compensation the victim deserves.

Steps to Take Following a Ridesharing Accident

In the aftermath of a ridesharing accident, taking the right steps can significantly impact your ability to seek compensation. First, ensure everyone’s safety and call the police to report the accident, as an official report can be a valuable piece of evidence. Then, collect as much information as possible, including the rideshare driver’s details, vehicle information, and insurance information, as well as details of any other parties involved. Document the scene with photos or videos if possible. Seek immediate medical attention, even if injuries seem minor at first, as some symptoms may not appear until later. Finally, report the incident to the ridesharing company and your own insurance provider, if applicable.

Contact Bradford Law if You’ve Been Injured in a Ridesharing Accident

Navigating through the complexities of a ridesharing accident can be a daunting task, and understanding who holds liability is crucial for your compensation claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you unravel the intricacies of the law and fight for your rights. If you or a loved one has been involved in a ridesharing accident in North Carolina, don’t hesitate to reach out to Bradford Law for expert guidance and dedicated representation. We’re committed to ensuring that you receive the fair compensation that you deserve for your injuries and losses.

About the Author
I am Jeremy Bradford, the founding and managing attorney of Bradford Law. From my offices in Charlotte, NC, I travel all across North Carolina helping injured people fight against insurance companies, in what could be life-altering circumstances. I have made a point to develop strong relationships with my clients. I take the trust my clients put in me personally and put myself into every case. If my client calls, my client will always be able to speak directly with me. You will get to know me as we work our way through the personal injury process. So when we make recommendations on whether to settle or go to trial, you will know your best interests are always at heart.