Ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber have grown in popularity. About 36 percent of people in the U.S. used one of these services in 2019, up from 15 percent in 2015. However, this growth comes at a frightful cost. A recent university study associates the rapid expansion of Uber and Lyft usage with a 2- to 3-percent increase in fatal accidents.
If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a ride-sharing accident, recovering damages may be problematic depending on the circumstances and on the insurance coverage of the parties involved. North Carolina is an “at fault” state, which requires injured parties to claim against the driver or drivers whose negligence was allegedly responsible for the accident. Because Uber and Lyft classify their drivers not as employees but as independent contractors, the ride-share companies argue that they themselves are not vicariously liable for their drivers’ negligence. This means that you should seek compensation from other sources before trying to bring a lawsuit against Lyft or Uber directly.
Uber and Lyft drivers may carry commercial liability insurance or may have a special endorsement on their personal insurance covering ride-sharing activities. But many don’t have either, which can leave them with no coverage for accidents that occur while acting as drivers for hire.
Uber and Lyft do carry liability insurance of up to $1 million to cover passenger injuries, but it will apply only after the limits of the driver’s own insurance have been met (or if the ride-share driver’s insurer denies coverage) and after all other sources of insurance have been tapped.
If you suffer injuries because of an accident that was only partly caused by the negligence of your Lyft or Uber driver, the North Carolina law of joint and several liability applies. This mean you may be able to obtain compensation from another responsible driver’s insurance as well as the ride-share company’s and/or driver’s policy.
Finally, in the case of an unknown or underinsured third-party driver who was a cause of the accident, you may make a claim against the ride-share company’s UM/UIM policy, which generally has a $1 million coverage limit.
The good news is that you do not need to figure all this out on your own. An experienced auto accident lawyer can advise you about your rights and legal options after an Uber or Lyft crash. Call The Carolina Law Group at 252-672-2059 or contact us online for a free consultation at our New Bern, Havelock or Morehead City office.