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Uber and Lyft Rideshare Accidents

Uber and Lyft Rideshare Accidents

Uber and Lyft changed the transportation game by allowing passengers to hail a ride from their smartphones.

Uber calls itself a “mobility as a service provider” while Lyft refers to itself as a “transport service support provider.” They’re neither a taxi company nor a chauffeur service. They don’t own their own vehicles and their drivers are not employees.

The companies blur the lines between commercial and personal driving, making questions about fault and liability harder to answer when their drivers are in an accident. If you were injured in a rideshare auto accident, you might want to discuss your legal options with a car accident lawyer.

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Rideshare Rules in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio

Uber and Lyft are widely available in cities across the United States and the world. Because they occupy a legal gray area, however, many places have chosen to pass ordinances regulating them.

Uber and Lyft have voluntarily withdrawn from some markets, including cities in Texas, on the grounds that local regulations are overly restrictive.

Lyft temporarily left Houston in 2014 after the city mandated fingerprint background checks for drivers, Uber suspended its San Antonio services in 2015 for the same reason, and both companies suspended services in Austin in 2016 over the fingerprinting rule. However, they have since resumed their ridesharing operations in these areas following a change in state law.

Beginning in 2017, Texas has regulated Uber and Lyft based on to a statewide framework that overrides local measures. The law requires ride-hailing drivers to pass name-based background checks (as opposed to fingerprint-based checks). It also mandates that Uber and Lyft obtain an operating permit from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and pay an annual $5,000 fee to operate across the state.

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How Safe Are Rideshares?

Uber and Lyft have dealt with questions about the safety of their services, with each facing scrutiny—and lawsuits—over alleged incidents of driver sexual harassment/assault and misconduct. But another Uber and Lyft safety issue has largely flown under the radar: car accidents and personal injury.

The two major rideshare companies strike almost identical tones when it comes to passenger safety. Uber says that “We’ve put safety at the heart of everything we do” while Lyft calls safety “fundamental to everything we do.”

Both have published safety reports detailing incidents like sexual misconduct, assaults, and motor vehicle crashes. Here’s what internal company statistics reveal about Uber and Lyft traffic accidents.

Uber Car Accident Data

According to Uber’s internal Safety Reports, “critical safety incidents” are extremely rare on the company’s platform and its fatality rate is lower than the national average.

  • Uber reported 107 motor vehicle fatalities and 97 fatal Uber-related crashes in 2017 and 2018 across 2.3 billion trips.
  • In 2019 – 2020, 91 fatal Uber crashes resulted in 101 fatalities across 2.1 billion trips.

Lyft Accident Data

Lyft reported 105 motor vehicle fatalities from 2017 – 2019, the latest years for which data is available.

Like Uber, Lyft says that its fatality rate compares favorably to the national rate.

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Rideshare Car Accident Statistics Glaringly Absent

At a glance, Uber’s and Lyft’s ridesharing accidents reports are impressive. But something is conspicuously absent from their data: the thousands of accidents involving the Uber and Lyft apps.

Also missing from the reports is any information about driver crashes when they’re waiting to be hailed, but don’t have a passenger in their car and aren’t on their way to a pickup.

These missing pieces make it hard to determine exactly how safe Uber & Lyft are from a motor vehicle crash perspective.

Such information must be indirectly determined from other sources. For example, when economists from the University of Chicago and Rice University in Houston looked at ride-sharing services and traffic deaths they found that, when a service like Uber of Lyft was launched in a city, fatal accidents increased.

Uber and Lyft expressed skepticism about the study’s methods and said that their services increase safety because they reduce dangerous behaviors like drunk driving. On the other hand, a Montgomery County Uber driver was recently accused of picking up passengers while intoxicated.

  • A California state report shows that rideshare drivers are involved in more than 1,100 accidents per month.
  • Another study out of California found that, over a 3-year period, accidents occurring in rideshare vehicle generated more than 9,000 insurance claims that caused $185.6 million in losses.
  • A 2021 statistical analysis of rideshare app accidents published by the CDC concluded that ridesharing was associated with increased crash incidence for motorists and pedestrians at trip origin and destination points.

One can’t help but ask: if the total accident and injury rates for Uber and Lyft were also lower than the national average, wouldn’t this data be included in company reporting? Their failure to release this data is worrying and begs the question of what they might be hiding.

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Uber and Lyft Accident Insurance Claims

Uber and Lyft drivers are required to carry liability insurance that protects their passengers. The companies also maintain insurance on behalf of their drivers, but it doesn’t apply in all situations.

Insurance Requirements for Texas Uber and Lyft Drivers

Uber and Lyft drivers must carry personal car insurance in amounts at least equal to the minimums required in the state where they’re driving. In Texas, this means insurance requirements for rideshare drivers in the following amounts:

  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person/$60,000 per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage coverage per accidents

Some Uber & Lyft drivers carry rideshare insurance or commercial automobile insurance on top of Texas’s 30/60/25 coverage. They may additionally carry optional coverages such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, collision, and comprehensive.

Uber’s and Lyft’s Insurance Company Coverage

Uber and Lyft provide insurance coverage to the individuals who drive for them. But there’s a catch: a ridesharing company’s insurance policy only takes effect when a driver is available/waiting for a ride request, en route to pick up a rider, or during a trip. If the driver is offline, they receive no coverage from the companies.

  • Uber and Lyft drivers who are online and waiting for a ride request have the following coverage:
    • $50,000 – bodily injury per person
    • $100,000 – bodily injury per accident
    • $25,000 – property damage per accident
  • Uber and Lyft drivers who are on the way to pick up a rider, or who are transporting a rider, have:
    • $1 million in coverage for bodily injury and property damage
    • Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury
    • Comprehensive and collision
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What Causes the Most Rideshare Accidents?

Ridesharing services car accidents have similar causes to other crashes, including:

An Uber accident or Lyft accident may also be caused by fatigued drivers working long hours without adequate sleep.

Ridesharing companies have policies that allow 12 hours of driving time before a driver is required to take a mandatory 6-hour break. Tired or drowsy driving during a long shift can impair cognition and reduce performance behind the wheel. AAA estimates that 328,000 fatigued driving crashes occur annually, injuring hundreds of thousands and killing thousands.

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Why You Might Need a Lawyer After a Rideshare Accident

Passengers injured in an Uber or Lyft are eligible to make a claim against the company-provided insurance policy for up to $1 million. But for those who are not passengers, things get more complicated. To summarize:

  • If the driver is not logged into the app and they hit the car you’re riding in, you would make a claim against the driver’s personal auto insurance policy. The same is true for pedestrians and bicyclists hit by Uber or Lyft drivers. That is, if the driver hits you on foot or on bike and their app is turned off, you make a claim against their personal policy.
  • When a driver is working with the app turned on, their Uber or Lyft policy provides coverage, but the amount of coverage available depends on whether they’re just waiting for a ride, or actively attending to a passenger.

It’s unlikely that you’ll file a lawsuit directly against Uber or Lyft for crash-related injuries, either as a rideshare passenger or a non-rideshare passenger. But for serious accidents that exceed policy limits, it may be necessary to explore every legal option.

An Uber lawsuit or Lyft lawsuit may be possible in cases where the driver was negligently hired, trained, or retained. For example, if one of the companies hired (or failed to remove from their platform) a driver who had multiple accidents on their record, or was driving without a license, this might create a special circumstance that opens the company up to liability.

A rideshare accident lawyer can help you sort through these different scenarios, determine who is at fault for the accident, and get the compensation you deserve.

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Texas Rideshare Accident Attorneys - Free Consultation

Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft have undoubtedly made it easier to catch a ride across town. But convenience often has a cost, and in the case of Uber and Lyft, that cost is getting into a car with a stranger who operates their personal vehicle as a taxicab and probably has no professional training.

Accidents in rideshare vehicles can raise questions such as: Who pays for my medical bills? Do I make an insurance claim with the rideshare company or the driver? What if the accident was the fault of another driver who doesn’t work for Uber or Lyft? Can I file a rideshare accident lawsuit?

These and other matters demand the attention of an experienced personal injury lawyer. There are many injury firms in Texas, but only one firm that’s home to the “Texas Hammer.” At Jim Adler & Associates, we’ve been protecting injured Texans for more than 50 years. To start your free, no-obligation case review, call 1-800-505-1414 or send us a message online.

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