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Who is Liable in a Ridesharing Accident?

Liable in a Ridesharing AccidentIf you’re in a car accident caused by a ridesharing driver, you may have to deal with injuries, expensive medical bills, lost time at work, pain and suffering, and other issues. This can become costly and frustrating. If the ridesharing driver caused the accident, they may be liable for your injuries. In some cases, the ridesharing company or even the vehicle manufacturer may bear liability. Here’s a closer look at who is liable in a ridesharing accident.

Personal Liability for Ridesharing Drivers

If the ridesharing driver caused the accident, they may be liable. Unfortunately, however, many ridesharing drivers are underinsured. They often just have personal car insurance, but because they are driving professionally, they need commercial insurance. As a result, if an accident happens while they are picking up fares for the ride share company, their insurer may reject the claim and cancel the policy.

Luckily, in Massachusetts, you have a bit of extra protection. A 2016 law requires all drivers to tell their insurer if they are driving for Uber, Lyft, or any other ride sharing service. As a result, drivers in this state should all have policies that cover both personal and professional driving.

Massachusetts law requires ride sharing drivers to have liability insurance that provides at least $50,000 per individual for bodily damage, $100,000 per accident for bodily damage, $30,000 for property damage, and personal injury protection. However, if your injuries are extensive, these minimums may not be adequate to cover your damages. In those situations, you need a ridesharing accident attorney who can help you figure out how to go after the driver’s personal assets or who can help you identify another liable party.

The At-Fault Driver

Typically in car accidents, the at-fault driver is responsible. If you are riding in an Uber or Lyft and another driver causes a crash with that vehicle, the other driver may be liable for your injuries, and their insurance policy may have to cover the cost of your damages. However, even in these cases, the driver of the ridesharing car may still be held responsible.

If you are driving your own vehicle and you get into an accident with a ridesharing driver, the ridesharing driver or their company is liable if they caused the accident. If you caused the accident, you are liable for your own injuries. In some cases, both drivers can be held partially responsible. This is called comparative liability, and you cannot receive a settlement unless the other driver is responsible for over half of the accident. In these situations, your settlement usually gets reduced by the portion of your liability. For instance, if the courts determine that you were liable for 20% of the accident, your settlement gets reduced by 20%.

Liability for the Ridesharing Company

On top of the requirements for drivers, Massachusetts also requires ridesharing services to have a $1 million liability policy in place. The 2016 law only specifies that this policy needs to cover accidents that occur when the driver has a paying passenger in the vehicle. However, most ride-sharing companies had this type of liability policy in place before these laws came into effect.

If the driver does not have a passenger in the car, the liability can fall on either the driver or the ridesharing company. In previous cases, ridesharing companies have tried to argue that they were not liable for accidents that occurred when the driver didn’t have a ridesharing passenger, but lawyers have successfully won settlements from ridesharing companies in cases where the driver didn’t have a passenger but was logged into the app. This typically comes into play when the driver hits another vehicle or a pedestrian in between fares.

Vehicle Manufacturers

With all automobile accidents, the manufacturer of the vehicle or its parts may be liable if faulty parts caused the accident or made the injuries worse. To give you an example, imagine someone is a passenger in an Uber. The car gets rear-ended by another driver. The injuries may have been minor, but a faulty airbag in the Uber explodes, leading to extensive injuries for the driver and the passengers.

Typically in this type of accident, the driver who caused the accident is liable. However, in this situation, the airbags made the injuries worse. As a result, the airbag manufacturer is likely to be liable for some if not all the injuries.

Because liability in ridesharing accidents isn’t always straightforward, you need to work with an attorney who understands the nuances in these cases. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we are well versed in ridesharing liability, and we may be able to help you. Contact us today to set up a free case evaluation and to learn more about your rights when you’re involved in a ridesharing accident.

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