History of Uber
Since Uber's conception in California back in 2009, it has spread rapidly across the country. People such as the author of this article argue that having more Uber's in major cities, specifically citing New York City, would cut traffic by 300% so long as people use the cheapest option on the Uber app called UberPOOL. On top of cutting traffic, it would also cut pollution. While Uber is useful for many reasons, convenience is at the top of the list for people living in DC as it makes it even easier to handle not owning a car. It's even faster than taxi cabs in getting picked up as it takes 4.5 minutes for an UberX (Uber's basic car) versus the average 8 minute wait time from a traditional taxi, according to an article from February, 2016. Not to mention an Uber ride is generally less expensive than a traditional taxi ride, according to the same article. Another thing Uber claims to have over traditional cabs is a level of safety because every driver must go through a background check as well as give their driver's license information. Furthermore, Uber is able to hold drivers responsible for their level of service based off a rating system out of five stars for the driver, which is fully available to potential passengers. However, as Uber becomes more and more popular, the number of Uber accidents continues to rise.
Making a Case
In light of how relatively new Uber/Lyft is, people often assume it's a hard case to win considering how big the companies have become; this is simply not true. An accident with an Uber or Lyft driver is handled the same way any accident is handled. That is, a plaintiff must be able to prove all the elements of a prima facie negligence claim against the Uber or Lyft driver, but the insurance carrier changes from that driver's personal policy (the one used when they are not driving for Uber or Lyft), to their Uber or Lyft policy. Uber policies seem to universally be with James River Insurance, and Lyft has a similar carrier that writes and administers policies for their drivers. Naturally, if the negligence of the particular driver is within the scope of driving for the particular company, the carrier will defend and indemnify the driver; if the driver was not working at the time (on the way to pick up a passenger or drop a passenger offer) personal coverage would kick in.
Uber and Lyft policies also seem to offer, again across the board to all of their drivers, $1,000,000.00 (one million dollars) in liability coverage, which is considerably more than the vast majority of policies for private drivers.
If you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, and the driver of that vehicle is not at fault, you may still be entitled to first party medical coverage, and even potentially wage loss reimbursement (Medical-Payment and/or PIP coverage). Please keep in mind that pursuing this particular claim may require the timely filing of an application form (often within one year from the date of accident), and may even preclude the liability claim.
If you've been involved in an Uber/Lyft accident in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, it's imperative that you call to discuss your case with an experienced attorney to discuss your options. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia attorney Roger Gelb and his firm have represented over 10,000 clients and have recovered in excess of $100,000,000.00 (one hundred millions dollars) since its founding in 1954. Contact us today for a free consultation.