Taking an Uber or a Lyft has is now routine for many people in Maryland as rideshare services replace traditional taxis. Inevitably, more passengers get injured in Uber and Lyft accidents. The issue of who you sue if you get into an accident with Uber or Lyft in Maryland is one of the first questions riders face. Uber and Lyft differ from taxi companies. They use independent contractors who give rides in their personal vehicles. The rideshare companies have less control over the condition of the cars than cab firms. However, Uber and Lyft only use cars of a certain age and drivers must upload their state inspection documents to be able to use the app.

Accidents involving rideshare or ride-hailing services are complicated. You may have many questions if you get into an accident in an Uber or a Lyft car including whose insurance will apply to injuries and other losses.  Can you file a lawsuit directly against Uber or Lyft after a crash involving a rideshare driver? You should talk to a Baltimore Uber and Lyft accident injury lawyer as soon as possible about who you sue if you get into an accident with an Uber or a Lyft in Maryland.

How Do Rideshare Companies Like Uber and Lyft Work?

Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies like Curb use smartphone apps and global positioning to pick up and drop off passengers. Although rideshare companies use the latest technology and are developing self-driving automobiles, riders still owe their safety to human drivers.

The Uber and Lyft apps tell drivers the locations of ‘surge’ areas where they can earn more money. Rideshare drivers are lured into areas like Baltimore on a Friday or a Saturday night by bonus incentives. Uber and Lyft encourage so-called ‘binge driving’ by sending riders calls before they have dropped off their existing rides. Tracking surge areas and checking follow up calls can be a distraction. Uber and Lyft pay drivers based on the mileage they travel. This means it’s in the financial interest of drivers to cover as many miles as possible in the shortest time.

Uber and Lyft drivers do not have to take courses like truck and bus drivers who have commercial drivers’ licenses. They often drive for hours at a time. Rideshare drivers also face considerable distractions like calls being lined up when they are driving and navigational issues on their GPS.

Although Uber and Lyft are referred to as ridesharing services, they usually accept just one account per ride. The term ‘ride-hailing’ is more accurate. However, Uber has an UberPool service in certain cities which is a carpool.

Who to Sue When Injured in an Accident Caused by Your Uber / Lyft Driver

Uber and Lyft passengers are as vulnerable as any other passengers on the roads to the actions of their drivers or other drivers. They may face even greater risks if a driver has been on a long shift and is tired late at night.

Because Uber and Lyft only arrived in U.S. cities in the last five or so years, little research is available about the number of rideshare accidents that occur. The rideshare companies are notoriously reluctant to share their statistics.

A report in CityLab suggested the increase in deaths in recent years coincides with the rise in ridesharing wrecks. U.S. road fatalities rose to 35,000 in 2015, a 7.2 percent rise over 2014. The largest jump in half a century came at a time when Uber and Lyft services were growing exponentially.  The death toll rose another 5.6 percent the next year.

Although the increase coincided with growth in rideshare cars, it also came at a time when advances in communications fueled more distracted driving. When Uber and Lyft services first appeared on the streets, injured passengers faced an uphill battle to win compensation. The rideshare companies pointed out drivers were independent contractors. Uber and Lyft said they were not liable for their actions. Injured passengers were forced to rely on drivers’ personal policies.

Today, Uber and Lyft offer $1 million in insurance coverage to its drivers. Passengers who are injured in a car accident in Maryland involving rideshare drivers can make a claim against Uber or Lyft. Individual drivers must also carry the state minimum in insurance on their policies which is $30,000 per person in Maryland and $60,000 per accident. However, you still need to prove the driver was at fault for the wreck that injured you.

The rideshare companies’ policies also have $1 million in uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage. If you are hurt in an accident by the negligence of someone other than the Uber or Lyft driver, you can still make a claim on this $1 million policy even if the at-fault driver lacks this amount of coverage. The UIM option is only relevant if the driver responsible for your injuries is unknown, lacks car insurance, or has insufficient insurance to pay for your injuries.

Although rideshare drivers have greater peace of mind than in previous years, they still face issues. An Uber or Lyft driver may fail to report an accident to the company. This is potentially problematic for passengers who seek to sue Uber or Lyft, only to find there is no record of the accident.

What Happens if an Uber or Lyft Passenger is Hurt by Another Maryland Driver

If the passenger in an Uber or a Lyft is hurt by another Maryland driver who remains at the scene or is later traced, the passenger can make a claim against this driver’s insurance policy. Uber or Lyft’s uninsured insurance policy can increase the payout.

You would sue the at-fault driver if you get into an accident with Uber or Lyft in Maryland.

Who Can Sue Uber or Lyft for Accidents in Maryland?

As well as passengers in the rideshare vehicle, the occupants of other cars can sue Uber or Lyft over a wreck caused by one of their drivers. Cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians can also sue.

Limitations on Uber and Lyft’s $1 Million Policy

Although passengers can typically sue Uber or Lyft after an accident with injuries, there may be exceptions. Uber provides $1 million in third-party liability, underinsured or uninsured motorist injury, and contingent comprehensive and collision coverage when picking up riders and during trips. However, if a driver is offline or his app is not on, a passenger is not protected by the Uber or Lyft coverage.

Uber’s liability toward a driver who is waiting for a ride request is lower than when he or she is heading to a pickup or carrying a passenger. It’s $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident. Lyft also has a $50,000 maximum limit per person for injuries if a driver has his app on but has not accepted a ride. Although the driver should not have a passenger in his car before accepting a ride, he may still hit and hurt other motorists.

Rideshare Policies from Insurance Companies

More insurance companies now offer rideshare policies. These can protect drivers during the so-called ‘insurance gap’ if they are hurt before they accept a call. Although drivers may not think they need rideshare insurance, accidents often happen after they drop off rides, especially if they are on busy streets.

Lyft and Uber drivers in Maryland now have many options for rideshare insurance. Companies including Erie, Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, and USAA offer rideshare insurance in Maryland.

Call a Lawyer if You Get Into an Accident with Uber or Lyft in Maryland

Rideshare accidents can present problems for injured passengers and drivers. It’s not always easy to deal with big, remote companies like Uber and Lyft. As anyone who has tried to call Uber or Lyft will realize, these companies operate almost exclusively online. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we are handling increasing numbers of accidents involving Uber and Lyft passengers or drivers injured in Baltimore and elsewhere in Maryland. We know who to sue and how to bring lawsuits against these companies.

These cases are complicated. It’s important to contact a seasoned Baltimore personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Call our Baltimore taxi, Uber and Lyft injury lawyers today for a free consultation at (410) 288-2900.