Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler August 11, 2016

With so many self-employed drivers for Uber, Lyft, Amazon and others on our roads, how protected are you when involved in a traffic accident with one of their vehicles? Jim Adler answers your questions about insurance claims.

First, you should know that filing an insurance claim for damages in such an accident is in many ways the same as for an accident with any other driver. You must have been:

  • Riding in a vehicle which was struck by a vehicle driven by a self-employed Uber, Lyft, Amazon or other driver
  • Riding as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle
  • Hit by a vehicle driven by an Uber, Lyft, Amazon or other driver while riding a bicycle or a motorcycle or while walking as a pedestrian
Beyond that, you must be able to establish that the other driver was negligent and thus liable for the accident, and also that you suffered damages, such as costs of an injury.

A problem is that even if the driver for a commercial firm was primarily at fault, it could be hard to recover damages from the driver if he or she has only personal auto insurance. Such personal auto insurance policies normally do not provide adequate coverage for drivers involved in commercial operations.

However, Uber, Lyft and other rideshare operations do provide drivers with commercial liability insurance for up to $1 million to protect passengers and others in case of accidents caused by one of their drivers. This is similar to the insurance provided for taxi drivers by owners of those companies.

Other Insurance for Ridesharing Drivers

Victims’ injuries also may be covered by other insurance sources, depending on the accident’s circumstances. Additional insurance policies may apply, from the liability insurance of the at-fault driver to that of the driver’s contractor.

Sometimes the driver’s personal insurance applies first, with other insurance applied to fill in gaps.

New Rideshare Insurance Law in Texas

Claims against rideshare drivers or firms is an evolving legal area. In Texas, a new rideshare insurance law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

The new Texas law requires that Uber, Lyft and other drivers for Transportation Network Companies (TNC) purchase additional liability insurance to apply when the ride hailing app is on, even if no other persons are in the vehicle.

In Texas, basic minimum liability coverage for all drivers is 30/60/25, which means drivers must have insurance coverage for $30,000 per person injured in a crash, for up to a total of $60,000 per crash, and be covered for $25,000 in property damage per crash.

The new Texas law for Uber, Lyft or other TNC drivers requires them to have higher coverage of 50/100/25 when the hailing app is on and they aren’t providing a ride, and $1 million in coverage when they are providing a ride.

The extra coverage now required for rideshare drivers is:
  • $50,000 for each injured person in a crash
  • Coverage for injured persons for up to $100,000 per crash
  • Property damage coverage for up to $25,000 per crash

No insurance company is required to offer such insurance for TNC drivers, but all TNC drivers are required to find and purchase it. Texas has over 100 auto insurance providers and many do offer it.

More Texas Uber Insurance Changes

Still more Uber insurance changes in Texas include the fact that, as of April 1, 2016, San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. began providing insurance coverage for its thousands of Texas drivers through Progressive Insurance. This constituted a marked change for the company, which till then had used James River Insurance Co. as its sole provider.

The change coincided with Progressive offering TNC insurance for drivers who use their personal vehicles to carry passengers for Uber, Lyft or other ridesharing services. Other insurers also have begun to offer TNC coverage for ride-hailing drivers to fill voids for those whose personal insurance doesn’t cover crashes occurring while they carry passengers for pay.

Uber’s insurance still covers each ride with $1 million of liability coverage per accident and $1 million of injury coverage for uninsured or underinsured persons, along with other coverage.

Other Uber Changes

Other Uber changes include the fact that, on June 29, 2016, the company announced that it will use smartphone sensors to keep track of its drivers’ performance and to discourage sudden braking or speeding, as well as drivers holding their phones while driving.

A test of such new software involves about half of Uber drivers in several cities. Uber’s software will send daily summaries to every driver, including a tally of the times he or she hit brakes or speeded up too suddenly. Trucking companies and other commercial fleet operators already collect comparable information.

After two months of a trial run, Uber is expected to decide if it will expand the program to include all of its drivers.

Insurance for Amazon Drivers

Insurance also is required for Amazon Prime delivery drivers employed by companies affiliated with Amazon. On a national basis, such requirements are much the same as at many companies, with $1 million in commercial general liability.

However, insurance may be different for individual drivers who deliver for Seattle-based Amazon but are not employed by Amazon or a delivery company.

Amazon launched an individual driver service in 2015. Its Amazon Flex drivers are contract drivers whose job is to deliver items speedily to customers who use Amazon’s Prime Now mobile app and pay an annual fee.

Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin all now offer Amazon Flex deliveries. In Texas, some such drivers also deliver amazon.com packages.

As contract drivers, these individual drivers must pay for their own gasoline and personal auto insurance. Personal insurance costs less than commercial insurance — and tends to provide less coverage.

But Amazon also is offering insurance coverage for such drivers while they are driving on Amazon business. This Amazon insurance provides $1 million in commercial auto liability coverage per accident and $1 million in uninsured/underinsured coverage per accident.

If you are injured in an accident involving an individual driver for Amazon, Uber or another commercial service, notify Jim Adler & Associates to get a free legal review of your options for claiming financial compensation.

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Tori Barroga
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I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.read more
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Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
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