I Was Hit By an Uber or Lyft Driver—What Now?

Key liability and insurance issues if you're in an accident with a rideshare driver.

Updated by , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated by Stacy Barrett, Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Uber and Lyft are rideshare companies that have connected billions of riders with drivers since the companies launched over 10 ten years ago. Both riders and drivers benefit from the convenience of on-demand rides, but what are the costs to other drivers and pedestrians on the road? At least one study found that the arrival of ridesharing was associated with a 2% to 3% increase in the number of car occupants and pedestrians killed in accidents between 2011 and 2016.

If you've been hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, you're probably wondering how you can get compensation for your accident-related losses. Is the driver responsible for paying your medical bills? Are Uber or Lyft on the hook?

Background on the "Rideshare" Business Model

Uber and Lyft operate in most cities in the United States and in dozens of countries around the world. The rideshare companies offer an alternative to taxis and other private and public transportation services.

Here's how it works: Riders use an app to match with rideshare drivers in the area. Drivers pick up riders and take them to their destination. All transactions are handled by the app; drivers don't handle any cash or credit card information. Drivers use their own cars and don't have a set schedule.

Uber and Lyft classify drivers as independent contractors and not employees, but some courts, lawmakers, and voters disagree with classification. Learn more about the legal battle over the classification of rideshare drivers in California and why it matters.

What to Do After a Rideshare Accident

If you've been hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, call 911 if you or anyone involved in the accident needs medical help. Call the local police department's non-emergency number if you don't need emergency assistance. An officer will likely respond to the scene to investigate and document the accident in a police report.

You can also help yourself by gathering the following information:

  • the rideshare driver's name, license plate number, and insurance information
  • insurance information for any other person or vehicle involved in the accident
  • witness names and contact information
  • photos of all vehicles involved in the accident
  • photos of traffic signals, skid marks, accident debris, and
  • photos of your injuries.

If you can, try to find out the driver's status on the app at the time of the accident. Did the rideshare driver have the app on or off? Was the driver waiting for a ride request or actively picking up or carrying riders at the time of the accident? Uber and Lyft's insurance coverage kicks in when drivers are active on the apps. Coverage limits vary during different phases of rides

For more tips, check out: What to Do After a Car Accident.

How to Report a Rideshare Accident

If you've been hit by an Uber driver, you can report the accident on Uber's Safety page. You'll want to complete the "Third Party Incident Notice."

If you've been hit by a Lyft driver, you can report the accident on Lyft's Help page. Click "Report accident" and enter your phone number. A member of Lyft's "'Accident Reporting Teams" will call you.

Reporting an accident to Uber or Lyft is like talking to an insurance adjuster after an accident. Be careful what you say. Report only basic facts about the accident: where, when, the type of accident, the vehicles involved, and the identity of witnesses. Don't give a detailed description of your injuries. You can elaborate about the accident and your injuries when you send a demand letter after you've had time to investigate and talk to a lawyer.

Who Pays If You're Hit By an Uber or Lyft Driver?

When you make a car accident claim, you have to show who was at fault for the accident and how the accident harmed you ("damages"). The driver who caused the accident—or that driver's insurance company— is typically responsible (liable) for paying for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other accident-related losses.

The situation is a little more complicated when a rideshare driver is involved in an accident. Most personal auto insurance policies don't cover accidents that happen when a vehicle is used for commercial purposes. So, unless a rideshare driver has purchased an expensive commercial policy, or has a ride-sharing "endorsement" (available in a few states), a driver's personal insurance won't cover a rideshare accident.

Fortunately, Uber and Lyft have responded to this problematic scenario by offering liability insurance to their drivers as soon as the drivers log into their apps and are available for ride requests. Drivers might have to submit claims to their own insurance carriers first.

So, Uber and Lyft may be on the hook for your car accident injuries if an Uber or Lyft driver hits you, or if you're injured while riding as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft.

A lawyer can help you figure out who is responsible for paying for your injuries and losses. You can probably file claims against your rideshare driver's personal insurance and Uber or Lyft.

Uber/Lyft Drivers and Car Insurance

Both Uber and Lyft provide liability coverage for their drivers. As of 2022, the companies have adopted similar policies, with coverage that varies depending on when an accident occurs:

  • App is off: When a driver's app is off, Uber and Lyft provide no coverage. The driver's personal auto insurance applies.
  • App is on, waiting for a ride request: When a driver is logged into the app and is available for ride requests, Uber/Lyft provide liability insurance for covered accidents if a driver's personal insurance doesn't apply. Coverage includes up to $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability.
  • App is on, picking up riders or during trips: Once a driver has accepted a trip and is picking up or transporting riders, Uber/Lyft provide liability insurance for covered accidents of up to $1 million, plus limited coverage for damage to the driver's car, and uninsured motorists' coverage (UMI). UMI limits very by state.

Can I Sue Uber or Lyft?

Uber and Lyft completely disrupted the transportation industry and lawmakers and courts are still working out legal issues related these services, including to what extent the companies are responsible for the actions of their drivers.

If you've been hit by a rideshare driver, you'll probably want to sue Uber or Lyft. After all, Uber and Lyft have much deeper pockets than the average rideshare driver. But rideshare companies often use their drivers' status as independent contractors as a defense to lawsuits. An employer can be liable for an employee's driving, but a business typically isn't liable for an independent contractor's driving.

Your best bet for recovering compensation after a rideshare accident is to try to tap into your driver's insurance coverage and Uber or Lyft's insurance coverage. You'll have to show that your driver was least partially at fault for the accident.

If your insurance claim is denied or underpaid, you can try filing a lawsuit against Uber or Lyft. But be prepared for the company to argue that you gave up your right to file a lawsuit when you accepted the terms and conditions of the rideshare service. Both companies require drivers and riders to resolve nearly all legal disputes with the company through arbitration.

You can sue Uber or Lyft if you've been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted by a rideshare driver.

A Lawyer's Help Is Crucial in a Rideshare Accident Claim

Millions of people use Uber or Lyft every day, but the rideshare industry is still fairly new and the law in this area is changing all of the time. If you've been injured by a rideshare driver, talk to a lawyer.

A lawyer can help you file an insurance claim, answer questions about whether you can sue Uber or Lyft, and negotiate an insurance settlement. Rideshare injury claims are complex. A lawyer can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.

Learn more about how a car accident attorney can help. You can also connect with a lawyer directly from this page for free.

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