What to Do If You Are a Driver Involved in an Uber or Lyft Car Accident in Washington State

You may be an Uber Driver, a Passenger, a Pedestrian, or the Driver of another vehicle. Information follows for each of these situations. 

What to do if you are a DRIVER involved in an Uber or Lyft car accident 

Accident claims for drivers of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as an Uber or Lyft accident, are more complicated than most car accident claims. Various factors determine which insurance company an injured individual must seek damages from (such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc.). 

Washington State insurance coverage for TNC DRIVERS

As per RWC 46.72B, Washington State law requires all TNCs to provide drivers with primary insurance coverage (in addition to the driver’s personal auto insurance coverage) when the Lyft or Uber driver app is online.

When the driver is online and they are waiting for a fare, the following coverage applies:

  • $50,000 per person for bodily injury
  • $100,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $25,000 per accident for property damage

When the driver has accepted a fare, is en route to pick up, or a Lyft or Uber passenger is in the vehicle at the time of the accident, the following coverage applies:

  • $1,000,000 for third-party auto liability
  • First-party coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
  • Contingent comprehensive and collision (up to actual cash value of the vehicle less a $2500 deductible)

Essential steps to take after any Uber or Lyft car accident

If you’re involved in an Uber accident, it’s necessary to take precautions:

  1. Stay calm; assess the situation. 
  2. Make sure you and your passengers are safe.
  3. Check for injuries.
  4. Get a picture of the scene. Consider moving the impacted vehicles to safety 
  5. Call 911 if appropriate such as a major accident, serious injuries, or if the other driver is obviously impaired.
  6. Exchange information with the other driver. Get a picture of their drivers license and the scene of the accident.
  7.  Report the Uber car accident through Uber app/
  8.  Expect representatives of the rideshare company and insurance companies to contact you for a statement (you may want to consider speaking to a lawyer before providing any statements). 
  9. You may feel worse later. Get medical care now or later as appropriate. 

What to do if you are a PASSENGER involved in an Uber accident

If you are involved in an Uber accident while riding as a passenger, you have the right to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Whether you file against Uber insurance or the other driver involved will depend on who is at fault. 

If the Uber accident is your driver’s fault

You will have a personal injury claim and the right to sue Uber’s insurance company, which can provide an Uber passenger up to $1,000,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

It’s important to note that your driver must be using the Uber driver app at the time of the accident for this coverage to apply. If for whatever reason, your Uber driver is not using the app when the accident occurs, you may need to file a claim directly against their personal auto insurance policy.

If the Uber accident is not your driver’s fault

You will not file a claim with the TNC insurance company. Instead, you will have a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance as you would in a regular car accident.

Suppose the at-fault driver is uninsured/underinsured. In that case, you must file a claim with the TNC insurance company, which carries $1,000,000 in uninsured/underinsured and/or first-party injury coverage for those exact circumstances.  You may also have your own insurance that can cover you.

What to do if an Uber driver CRASHES INTO YOUR VEHICLE

Like passengers in an Uber accident, you have the right to file a claim for personal injury and property damage if an Uber driver crashes into your car. In these circumstances, the insurance provider you seek damages from will depend on whether the driver is online using the Uber driver app (“on the clock”). 

If the driver is “on the clock”

Then you will file a claim against Uber’s insurance company. If the Uber driver is online and waiting for a fare at the time of the accident, the insurance company will cover

  • $50,000 per person for bodily injury
  • $100,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $25,000 per accident for property damage

If the driver has accepted a fare, is en route to pick up, or they have an Uber passenger in the vehicle at the time of the accident, the following coverage applies

  • $1,000,000 for third-party auto liability
  • First-party coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
  • Contingent comprehensive and collision (up to the actual value of the vehicle less a $2500 deductible)

If the driver is not “on the clock”

Then you will file a claim through their personal insurance policy (required to drive for TNCs) as you would in any other car accident. Suppose the driver happens to be uninsured or does not have an adequate insurance policy, you will need to seek any remaining damages through your own insurance policy since the TNC’s uninsured/underinsured coverage does not apply.

What to do as a PEDESTRIAN involved in an Uber accident

If you are a pedestrian involved in an Uber car accident, you have every right to file a claim against the at-fault party. Once again, determining which insurance company to file with, will depend on whether the driver is online using the TNC driver app ( “on the clock”). 

If the driver is “on the clock”

Then you will file your claim against Uber’s insurance company and seek damages from the $1,000,000 third-party liability coverage, which also covers victims who are not in the car. 

If the driver is not “on the clock”

Then you will seek damages through the driver’s personal liability insurance policy, as in any other accident involving a pedestrian. 

Can you sue Uber or Lyft directly?

While it is possible to sue Uber or Lyft directly, it is a difficult thing to do for various reasons

  1. Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors, making it more difficult to sue Uber for negligence as the company is more likely to be held responsible for an employee’s negligence than an independent contractor.
  2. The terms and conditions passengers agree to when creating their account abdicate the TNC of many legal responsibilities.
  3. Uber’s insurance policy often provides sufficient compensation for damages, making a direct suit unnecessary and more trouble than it’s worth.

Nonetheless, there are circumstances when filing a lawsuit directly against a TNC is the best choice, such as

  • When damages surpass the limit of the insurance policy
  • When a TNC driver physically or sexually assaults a passenger
  • When a passenger believes the TNC was reckless in hiring and retaining the driver who harmed you 

Can a personal injury lawyer help with an Uber or Lyft car accident?

Hiring legal representation is only necessary in some circumstances. However scheduling a complimentary consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your Uber accident case is always advisable. These laws are complicated, and insurance companies will always try to pay Uber passengers as little as possible. You will learn things about your accident with a free consultation that will help you, even if you don’t hire a lawyer.

Consider any early settlement offers very carefully and seek the opinion of an experienced and reputable attorney before accepting any offers. Once you’ve taken a settlement offer, it is extremely difficult to pursue further compensation should you need it. 

Contact one of Seattle’s leading personal injury lawyers to discuss your case for FREE

It’s true! You can get a free initial consultation. We will do that for you.  We know about Uber and Lyft accidents. We’ll share information and answer your questions to help you figure out what to do about your concerns. 

Contact Sharpe Law Firm today. For over forty years, we’ve helped injured accident victims move their personal injury cases toward the best outcome possible.

Whether you require our services or not, our complimentary consultation will provide clarity and an action plan to get your claim moving in the right direction. We hope to hear from you soon.

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Chris Sharpe

Meet Chris Sharpe

Christopher Sharpe is the go to attorney for injured persons. His law firm is helpful, honest, and knowledgeable about workers' compensation and personal injury law in the State of Washington. Chris has been helping injured Washington State workers for over 40 years. He has built a successful law practice by thoroughly educating, honestly helping, and successfully representing workers throughout Washington State.

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