The increasing popularity of rideshare services such as Lyft and Uber is changing how people travel from one place to the next, especially in busy areas like Seattle that don’t yet have a comprehensive public transit system. Just a tap of your cellphone screen is all you need to get a price quote, request a ride, find out where your driver is and what his or her arrival time will be, and pay the fare without even having to open up your wallet. This is viewed by many as a win-win situation, as the rideshare drivers are able to make income independently and control their schedules, while the passengers receive faster and less costly transport services.
These services are fast, simple and tend to be cheaper than a traditional cab, and the rideshare industry is growing quickly. In fact, according to the Seattle Times, Uber and Lyft drivers in Seattle are now logging more passenger transport miles than the more traditional cab services. Washington is not the only place to see this shift toward rideshare services, which are becoming legal, acceptable and more popular all across the nation.
Rideshare Services and Accident Liability
The boost in rideshare service use has led to a larger number of traffic accidents with their drivers. Seattle made the news back in March 2017 when an Uber driver struck and killed a 35-year-old man with his SUV. The accident was horrific, with the victim’s car being sliced in half by a tree and trapping the man inside, who later died at an area hospital. The Uber driver continued to drive afterward for another two blocks before he hit a gas pump and caused a fire and small explosion. The driver of the Uber wasn’t hurt at all in the accident, but his passenger at the time suffered some minor injuries.
Washington laws passed back in 2015 addressing rideshare coverage mean that both the victim’s family and the passenger injured in the Uber mentioned above should be able to receive damages from the Uber driver’s insurer. This law set limits for mandatory commercial insurance coverage for all rideshare vehicles, and it included the following requirements:
- A rideshare vehicle has to have liability benefits up to $50,000 for each person, $100,000 per each accident and another $30,000 for property damage. This coverage needs to be effective as soon as the driver accesses their ridesharing network and is waiting for a fare request.
- When a driver has accepted a ride and is on the way to get the passenger, the coverage increases to $1 million in single limit liability coverage plus $1 million for under-insured motorist coverage and the personal injury coverage already required by state law.
- A rideshare company is required to have proof that their drivers have this type of coverage. If the drivers don’t, the rideshare company is obligated to provide the coverage required under WA laws.
- If a driver operates across more than one network – for example, if she or he has both Lyft and Uber apps open at the same time – the insurance responsibility is evenly split between both companies.
To accommodate the boost in rideshare services and the advancements in technology, state laws that protect passengers will have to play catch-up, and a solid personal injury lawyer in Kent will also stay up-to-date on any changes regarding these laws. It’s crucial for any person who is hurt in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle to understand what the law requires and what their rights are. The insurers involved often just want to settle the case as fast as possible, which isn’t always the best option for the injured person.
Know Your Rights
The changing legal landscape when it comes to the rideshare industry can make accidents involving rideshare services confusing and complicated, especially when it comes to who is liable for what. This doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t have clear rights if you were injured in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle. Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer in Kent about your rideshare accident case so you know what your rights are and can receive the full compensation you’re entitled to.