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Who Is Legally Responsible for a Rideshare Car Accident?

Posted on July 10, 2023

Rideshare is a relatively new concept that took the transportation industry by storm, offering inexpensive on-demand rides to millions of users. Yet ridesharing services have also resulted in confusing issues of liability, or legal responsibility, for related car accidents. If you get injured in a rideshare car accident, such as an Uber or Lyft accident, our Birmingham personal injury lawyers share who you may be able to hold liable for your medical bills and property repairs.

The Rideshare Driver

Rideshare accidents are unique compared to typical car accident cases in Alabama due to the status of the driver. Rideshare drivers who are logged into the app, actively accepting rides or transporting passengers can lead to insurance benefits from the rideshare company rather than the driver’s personal policy alone. If the driver was not logged into the app at the time of the crash, however, his or her personal auto insurance will pay for the accident, instead.

Both Uber and Lyft drivers are required by the rideshare companies to carry at least the minimum amounts of car insurance that are required by state law. In Alabama, the insurance requirements are at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 for bodily injuries per accident and $25,000 for property damage liability. A rideshare driver’s personal policy will cover accidents while he or she is not logged into the app.

The Rideshare Company

If the rideshare driver is logged into the app at the time of the car accident, the rideshare company could be held liable for damages. Although the rule of vicarious liability typically does not apply to Uber and Lyft as it does to traditional employers, due to the fact that rideshare drivers are classified as independent contractors and not employees, both companies offer up to $1 million in coverage to injured crash victims for accidents caused by their drivers.

Injured rideshare passengers and victims outside of the vehicle (e.g., bicyclists or pedestrians) may be eligible for different amounts of coverage based on the period of the ride. In Period 1, when the app is on and the driver is waiting for a ride request, 50/100/25 liability coverage will apply from Uber or Lyft. In Periods 2 and 3, when the app is on and drivers are en route or have passengers in the car, $1 million in liability insurance is available from both companies.

A Third-Party Driver

Alabama is a fault state. Our Birmingham car accident attorneys explain that this means the driver or person at fault for causing a car accident is responsible for paying for a victim’s related damages. If someone other than the rideshare driver is at fault for the crash, this person’s insurance company may be held liable for damages. The at-fault driver’s policy may cover losses suffered by the Uber or Lyft driver as well as rideshare passengers.

A Vehicle Part Manufacturer

Some rideshare accident cases in Alabama involve motor vehicle defects. If the Uber or Lyft driver’s car contained a manufacturing defect, the product manufacturer or distributor may be held responsible with a product liability lawsuit. If it can be shown that the car part contained a defect and that this caused the car accident, our experienced auto defect lawyers in Birmingham have handled cases in which proof of manufacturer negligence is generally not required to receive compensation.

The Government

Finally, the city or state government in Alabama could be held liable for a rideshare accident that is caused by a road defect. Negligent road maintenance could lead to crash risks such as potholes, missing guardrails, malfunctioning traffic lights, debris in the road or dangerous construction zones. If a road defect causes an Uber or Lyft accident, the government agency responsible for road maintenance could be held liable.

If you get injured in a rideshare accident, contact the Birmingham Uber and Lyft accident attorneys at Drake Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation. We can help you hold the correct party or parties liable for your damages.