Are you searching for a ride sharing accident lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland? We can help as auto accident attorneys familiar with the rideshare laws and insurance coverage.
Over the last several years rideshare apps have become increasingly popular. People use them for commuting to work, traveling around a new city in lieu of renting a car, and for ease of transport. There are many benefits to these services. Oftentimes, they are less expensive, more reliable, and faster than a traditional taxi. Additionally, people may be less likely to drink and drive when they know they can easily call for an Uber or a Lyft to take them home.
While the aspect of hiring a driver to transport you from one place to another seems like a seamless process, things become a bit more complicated in the event of an accident. Taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts tend to be in a lot of car accidents in Baltimore. Not only do they spend large amounts of time on the road, increasing their exposure accidents, but:
- They tend to operate in extremely congested areas like airports and the most congested portions of big cities
- Spending that much time driving in congested areas is psychologically draining, which can make drivers careless and less responsive to danger
- Drivers are under time pressure to maximize the number of fares they earn in a shift
- Passengers frequently add to the time pressure in hopes of reaching their destination faster
Additionally, because the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing service is completely online, and because the industry is still fairly new, it’s difficult to know how to proceed if you are injured while traveling with a Lyft or Uber driver in Maryland. Hiring an experienced traffic accident attorney can make all the difference. At The Law Office of Randolph Rice, we will fight aggressively for your right to fair compensation for your damages.
Mandatory Liability Insurance for Lyft and Uber Drivers
The state of Maryland requires all drivers to keep a minimum level of insurance coverage in order to drive. For most drivers, this means obtaining at least personal liability insurance. This plan must include coverage for claims up to $100,000. This is not always enough to cover the entire cost of the accident and following recovery expenses. There are many different individual insurance options to choose from. Commercial and professional drivers might receive coverage under their employer’s insurance plan. The tricky thing about Uber and Lyft drivers is that they fall somewhere in the middle – they are not licensed as a professional driver, but they are working for a ridesharing company.
Both Uber and Lyft require that their drivers hold a current license, registration and insurance policy, and specify that the driver’s name must be on the insurance plan. Lyft even has the option to view the driver’s insurance policy in their profile directly on the app. Lyft and Uber both that their own company insurance policy covers the ride from the time that the ride is accepted on the app through the end of the ride when the passenger gets out of the car. This protects both the driver (from personal liability claims) and the passenger (who can start a claim with Uber). When the “driver” mode is off on the app, the driver is responsible and their insurance policy is the only one that is in effect.
Lyft or Uber Driver Car Accidents
Remember, Lyft and Uber drivers are just like you. Although they are required to hold current car insurance, a driver’s license, and proper registration, so is everyone else. They aren’t professional drivers. They don’t need to take a special test to become an Uber driver. They don’t need to drive by specific standards set by these ridesharing companies. Any one of these cars can be in an accident, and it’s a bit more common than you would imagine. There are a few reasons that Lyft and Uber drivers are even more susceptible to a car accident:
- Drivers might be driving through areas that they are not familiar with, which requires additional attention and can be confusing.
- There is no limit on how long a driver can be behind the wheel, there are even incentives for drivers who complete a certain number of rides in a day. Therefore, drivers might choose to keep driving even if they are feeling tired.
- Drivers need to keep an eye on the map in the Uber or Lyft app and this can lead to dangerous distracted driving.
Passenger Rights After an Uber or Lyft Accident
Every accident is different working through the process of starting a claim can feel like a huge challenge. It’s important to understand that a passenger who is injured when they are riding in a car operated by an Uber or Lyft driver might be able to claim driver error or negligence. In this case, the request could be made for the driver or the actual ridesharing company to claim responsibility. Both companies do have policies in place to protect both the driver and the passenger in the event of an accident. Reviewing the policies before you hire a rideshare driver can help to clear up any confusion on how to report an accident and what type of compensation is due in the event of one.
Recovery Under Your Own Insurance Policy
Every auto insurance policy in Maryland has to provide uninsured motorist (UM) insurance—your own policy will pay you the damages you would have been entitled to recover from a motorist who failed to carry the mandatory liability insurance. Even if the other motorist does carry the required liability insurance, you can still recover under your UM insurance if the UM limits are higher than the other motorist’s liability insurance. It’s confusing to a lot of people, but experienced accident attorneys know exactly when and what you can recover.
Do I Need A Lawyer After an Uber or Lyft Accident?
While the insurance company will work to minimize or even deny the claim, you have the right to ask for just compensation. Expensive medical treatments, hospital bills, ongoing physical therapy, and lost wages due to missing work are financially devastating in the time after an accident. It is the insurance company’s job to minimize their own financial strain and they will attempt to offer you the lowest settlement amount possible initially. If you know that the compensation Uber or Lyft is offering won’t cover the costs of the accident and future lost wages, it’s time to speak with a lawyer who understands how to deal with the insurance companies. Remember that it’s your job to recover after a car accident, it’s our job to advocate for your rights.
The Uber Ride – Vacation Lost
The vacation you have promised yourself and wife for the past three years. You have harnessed yourself to building your small business in order to show a profit and it worked. You have trusted employees to handle the business while you and your wife vacation in the Caribbean. Wife’s parents are watching the kids. Bags are packed into trunk of the Uber driver’s car and you are being driven to BWI for a noon flight south.
As the driver comes off the ramp on Route 97 it starts raining buckets and the friendly over-talkative driver doesn’t seem to notice. Just prior to the BWI exit the car starts to hydroplane, spinning, sending the car over the guardrail. You and your wife are transported to the hospital. Your injuries will result in you being laid up for six to eight weeks. You are stressing. Not only have your vacation plans gone over the guardrail, you are afraid your small business may also. Where does the liability lie and does Uber cover its drivers?
Your worries are only part of the problem. The Uber driver has worries as well, because the Uber insurance only covers a portion of the liability especially if the Uber driver is at fault.
What Uber insurance covers
Uber offers its drivers some liability protection, but coverage levels vary dramatically depending on whether you have a rider or not. Collision and comprehensive can be especially tricky. And your own injuries are never covered unless someone else is at fault.
Here is a quick rundown of Uber coverage levels:
- Insurance coverage during Period 1: Uber’s liability limits are relatively low during Period 1, and comprehensive and collision are nonexistent.
- Liability: Uber offers liability coverage with limits of 50/100/25 ($50,000 per person bodily injury, up to $100,000 per incident, and $25,000 for property damage). This is contingent coverage in most states. That means you must make a claim with your insurer first. If it denies your claim, Uber’s insurance will step in.
- Collision and comprehensive: Uber doesn’t offer any collision or comprehensive during Period 1. If you are not carrying these coverages on your personal policy, you bear all the costs to repair your vehicle if you are at fault in an accident. Even if you are not at fault, you may wish to use your personal collision coverage – paying the deductible, too – and get your car repaired on your own terms while your insurance company fights for reimbursement on your behalf.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist: Uber does not offer any uninsured/underinsured coverage during this period; you will need to use your own uninsured motorist coverage or personal health insurance policy if you are injured by someone without insurance.
Requirements are different for Period 1 in states such as California and Maine, where state law takes away the contingency for liability coverage. Traditional private car insurance policies no longer apply in Period 1; you have to either buy a rideshare-friendly private policy or commercial livery coverage, or Uber must step in. Uber still won’t pay for damage to your car or your injuries if you’re at fault, and under the new state laws, your personal car insurance doesn’t have to, either, unless you’ve bought rideshare-specific coverage.
Insurance coverage during Periods 2 and 3: Your liability is well-covered, but collision and comprehensive get a bit complicated.
- Liability: This is where that $1 million policy that Uber brags about takes effect, and it should protect you in most cases.
- Collision and comprehensive: Uber offers comprehensive and collision during Periods 2 and 3, but it is contingent. If you have collision and comprehensive on your policy but your insurer denies your claim, Uber’s insurance will step up. Their policy has a $1,000 deductible, which you will have to cover.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist: Uber has a $1 million policy in force, which should be sufficient.
First and foremost the Uber driver must have their own ride sharing insurance. Maryland law mandates drivers to have insurance coverage up to $100,000.
Actually, Uber and Lyft drivers have gotten special attention by the State of Maryland.
The below letter was sent to Maryland lawmakers last year dated June 30, 2017:
This letter fulfills a requirement of § 19-517.1 of the Insurance Article, Annotated Code of Maryland (“the Article”), which states that:
The [Insurance] Commissioner shall make a determination whether, with regard to the required coverages under § 10-405(a) of the Public Utilities Article, there is a viable, affordable, and adequate market of authorized insurers in the State, including the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, available to provide the required coverages to the transportation network services industry.
The statute requires that I make this determination beginning July 1, 2017 and annually thereafter through July 1, 2021. I am pleased to report that, at the present time, there is a viable, affordable, and adequate market of authorized insurers in the State, including the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, available to provide the required coverages to the transportation network services industry.
In support of this determination, I note that there are two entities within the transportation network services industry that must satisfy the primary motor vehicle liability insurance requirement found in the Public Utilities Article: a Transportation Network Company (“TNC”) and a Transportation Network Operator (“TNO”). Under § 10-405, the TNC, the TNO or a combination of both must provide the required insurance coverage. At the time of the Maryland Insurance Administration’s (“the Administration”) December 31, 2016 report on the Transportation Network Industry (see MSAR # 10463, attached), there were two TNCs, commonly known as Uber and Lyft, operating in Maryland. Also at that time, there were in excess of 25,000 licensed TNOs. At present, Uber and Lyft remain the only two permitted TNCs operating in Maryland, and there are now in excess of 60,000 licensed TNOs.
The conclusion of the Administration’s December 31, 2016 report was that coverage offered by admitted insurers in the State of Maryland for the transportation network industry was sufficiently available and affordable, but would be subject to market segment loss data that will develop over time. Over the first half of calendar year 2017 there has been no change in the number of authorized insurers participating in this market, and despite the rapid increase in the number of licensed TNOs, the Administration has received no complaints from Maryland residents that coverage was either unavailable or unaffordable.
Thank you for the opportunity to report on this matter. Please contact me if you have any.”
Sincerely, Insurance Commissioner
The 2015 General Assembly gave great care to address the growing ride share industry due to companies like Uber enacting Senate Bill 868 Public Utilities – Transportation Network Services and For-Hire Transportation (2015 Laws of Maryland, Chapter 204)
1) The availability of coverages required under § 10-405 of the Public Utilities
Article for the transportation network industry offered by admitted insurers in
(2) Methods to increase the availability of these required coverages with admitted
insurers in the State; and,
(3) The affordability of the required coverages.
(See § 19-517.1 of the Insurance Article)
The Insurance Commissioner wrote in December 2016, “The transportation network services industry is a growing segment of the “sharing economy.” A
transportation network company (“TNC”), such as Uber or Lyft, first develops a digital platform for use by transportation network operators (“TNO”). A TNO, the driver, then uses the digital platform to acquire passengers and transports them from one location to another using the TNO’s automobile…”
One has to wonder whether the lawmakers are more concerned about the ride sharing industry rather than an injured customer/passenger.
Are you, the injured party, going to be fully compensated?
Such surely rest on a case-by-case basis taking in the nature of the injuries, quality of life after the injuries, loss of work time or time away from your own business.
Uber’s website states:
“We are committed to the safety of everyone using Uber. If you have been involved in an accident, please follow these steps:
- Check that all parties involved are safe.
- Notify police and paramedics if necessary.
- Contact us.
Head to Trip Issues and Fare Adjustments – I was in an accident. Next, please let us know what happened. Check that you have selected the correct trip and share all available info here. A member of our team will reach out to confirm everyone’s safety and gather any other required information.”
Contacting Uber after an accident without first consulting an attorney is the last things you want to do. But do contact a lawyer immediately or when you are able. Let your attorney do any initial contacts to protect you and your loved ones. Your injuries and/or losses are of great concern. Do not short change yourself or your loved ones.
Contact an Experienced Uber and Lyft Attorney in Baltimore Today
Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be challenging, and when you don’t know exactly who should be held liable, it’s even more confusing. The large ridesharing companies have aggressive attorneys working on their team and you should too. If you have been injured in an accident when you were riding in a Lyft or Uber designated vehicle, contact a lawyer at The Law Offices of Randolph Rice today. We have a strong understanding of how to navigate cases involving ridesharing companies and will work to receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 or contact us online to discuss the details of your case.