Learn which insurance company owes you compensation if you’re injured in an accident involving an at-fault taxi or rideshare driver.
In 2019, daily taxi trips almost reached 300,000 in New York City alone. In the same year, rideshare services like Uber and Lyft accounted for almost 450,000 daily trips in NYC. ¹
If you include trips taken in large and small cities throughout the country, taxis and rideshare vehicles are on the roadway all the time.
As with private vehicles, hired rides get into plenty of traffic accidents, injuring passengers and other motorists. At-fault taxi drivers are just as responsible for their victim’s injuries as any other motorist would be.
But it’s often difficult to know where to file an insurance claim when a taxi service is involved. Depending on the circumstances, you’ll have to look towards the driver’s car insurance, the traditional taxi company’s insurance policy, or the insurance company of a rideshare business.
Actions to Take After an Accident
Anytime you’re in a traffic accident involving a taxi or rideshare vehicle, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your right to compensation. What to do after a collision applies whether you were a motorist hit by a cab, or a passenger in either vehicle.
The most important thing to do is to protect your health. Ask for an ambulance if you’ve been badly injured or are in pain.
If you aren’t taken directly to the hospital, contact your physician as soon as possible to schedule an appointment, even if you feel fine. The accident may have caused injuries that initially go unnoticed.
Whether you visit an E.R. or your doctor, make sure to get a copy of your medical records. These records are often the backbone of your injury claim.
Before leaving the scene of the accident:
- Gather information – Collect the names and contact numbers of everyone involved. If the taxi driver is employed by a company, or rents the cab from one, get the name of the company as well as the driver.
- Don’t forget about insurance – Gather the insurance details of all drivers involved in the accident. Ask for the insurance company name and the policy number.
- Look for witnesses – Seek out anyone who saw the accident and write down their names and contact information. Witness statements may help prove your claim.
- Take pictures – Use your phone to take pictures and videos of the scene, including cars involved, street conditions, weather conditions, any injuries, and traffic signals or signs. Car accident photographs and videos can increase the value of your claim.
If you can’t do any of these while at the scene, try to address them shortly after the accident. For example, you or a friend can go back to the accident scene to take pictures.
Or, try to secure any surveillance video from nearby businesses that may show footage of the accident taking place.
Evidence to Show Fault
The main goal of taking pictures and finding witnesses after a crash is to collect enough evidence to show that a taxi or rideshare driver was responsible for causing your injuries.
To prove that a taxi driver caused an auto accident, the injured person has to show that the driver was negligent. A person is negligent when they do something wrong or fail to do what any reasonable person would do in the same circumstances to prevent harm to others.
In personal injury cases, the negligent or at-fault cab driver is liable, meaning the driver is the cause of a victim’s injuries and must compensate that person for any losses incurred.
These losses may include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Following most auto accidents, injury victims file claims with their own insurance company or the at-fault driver’s company.
Filing Claims with Taxi Drivers / Companies
Taxicab drivers are “common carriers,” or people that carry persons from one place to another. As such, drivers must carry common carrier insurance (sometimes referred to as taxi insurance).
Common carrier insurance covers the cab driver, passenger, and another motorist in instances of collisions. If you were injured in an accident caused by the cab driver, you’d file a claim under that cabby’s common carrier policy.
Sometimes a driver will rent a cab from a taxi company. In this situation, both the driver and the company may have an insurance policy and bear responsibility for the accident. You can file a claim with either party’s insurer or even both if your injuries rise above the limits of one policy.
There are times when taxi companies own their cabs and hire drivers to operate them. In this type of business model, the taxi company is the responsible party if one of their employees caused an injury. Here, you should file an injury claim with the business that owned the cab.
State Laws Differ with Coverage Amounts
A confusing aspect of taxi accidents is that states don’t agree on the amount of coverage drivers and cab companies must carry.
Each state has its own minimum limits for auto insurance coverage for individual drivers and for commercial drivers. The amounts required in different states can vary dramatically.
Depending the severity of your accident, you may suffer from injuries that exceed the limits of the driver’s or company’s applicable insurance policy.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you suffer injuries above the limits on the at-fault driver’s policy, then you’d file a claim with your own underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), if you have it.
Underinsured motorist coverage pays for your accident injuries when the at-fault driver has too little insurance to cover all of your injuries. Only a few states mandate drivers to carry UIM coverage, but you may choose to purchase UIM coverage as an optional add-in.
If you file a UIM claim, your insurance company is legally required to compensate you for the amount of your damages that the at-fault party would have had to, but for the lack of higher policy limits.
No-Fault Insurance States
There are a few no-fault insurance states. No-fault insurance covers injury claims for the driver and their passengers, regardless of who caused the accident.
If you live in a state with no-fault insurance laws, the insurance company is required to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on auto insurance policies.
PIP will cover your medical bills and related costs no matter who was at fault for an accident.
If you are an injured passenger in a no-fault state, you should be able to make an injury claim against your driver’s insurance company. It doesn’t matter if you were riding in the cab or another vehicle when the crash occurred.
The Difference with Rideshare Services
Rideshare services offer car transport services as an alternative to taxis, cabs, and limos. Two of the most well-known rideshare services in the United States are Uber and Lyft.
Rideshare companies are sometimes referred to as:
- Transportation network companies
- Peer-to-peer ridesharing
- Ride-hailing companies
While taxi users hail a car for hire on the street or call the company dispatcher to order a cab, rideshare customers must download a specific app to their smartphone to take advantage of the service. Rideshare drivers use the same app on their phones to communicate with customers.
Once the rideshare driver and customer connect (via the app), they work out all travel arrangements, including the location the driver will pick a customer up and where the driver will drop the customer off.
The cost of these services varies depending on:
- The geographic location where the service is requested
- The demand for rides
- The location where a customer wishes to go
Companies like Uber and Lyft don’t own the cars in their rideshare network. The individual rideshare drivers do. Further, most rideshare companies treat their drivers as independent contractors as opposed to employees.
Companies prefer an independent contractor because it allows them to avoid the costs of hiring a person and the subsequent expense of keeping a driver employed.
Personal Insurance of the Rideshare Driver
In most auto collision scenarios, the injured driver files an injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
However, it gets complicated when the at-fault driver is a rideshare driver and the victim is either a customer-passenger or the driver of another car.
Rideshare drivers are required to carry personal auto policies on the cars they drive. However, if the rideshare driver caused the accident, the Uber or Lyft auto insurance is usually primary.
Personal insurance policies typically don’t extend coverage to accidents when policyholders drive their cars for commercial purposes, unless a special provision or endorsement has been added to the policy. Operating a car in a rideshare capacity is using the vehicle for a commercial aim.
If an injured party files a claim with the rideshare driver’s insurer, the adjuster will eventually find out the policyholder was using the auto for a commercial gain. The adjuster will then deny the claim, unless the policy provides for rideshare coverage. Even then, they may deny your claim, telling you to take your claim to the ridesharing company.
Rideshare companies usually have commercial policies with higher liability limits, but may expect the at-fault rideshare driver’s company to pay first.
The insurance carriers for the driver and the rideshare company might fight over which policy should pay first. A skilled personal injury attorney will keep you from being caught in the middle.
Ridesharing Policy Endorsements
Some insurance companies offer drivers rideshare insurance policies. These policies are sometimes referred to as rideshare endorsements, and they work to supplement a driver’s personal insurance.
Rideshare policies are intended to provide drivers with some form of insurance for the commercial use of a vehicle.
If a rideshare driver does have an endorsement, then a passenger injured in an accident caused by the driver, or a motorist hit by the driver, files a claim with the company providing the endorsement.
Insurance Provided by the Rideshare Company
Rideshare companies recognized a need to protect their drivers and passengers better when involved in auto accidents. As a result, they started offering their drivers company-sponsored liability insurance.
But the amount of coverage under these policies depends on when an accident occurs.
There are four periods when a rideshare accident can take place:
- Period 0 – The time period when a rideshare driver hasn’t logged into their rideshare related app and isn’t looking for customers.
- Period 1 – The time when the driver is logged into their app but hasn’t located or found a customer to transport.
- Period 2 – The time frame when a driver has accepted a customer but hasn’t picked that person up yet.
- Period 3 – The time when a customer is in the rideshare car, from the moment of pick-up to drop-off.
Compensation During Period 0
When drivers aren’t logged into their rideshare app, they’re not technically commercial drivers. They are driving for their own personal use.
During this time period, a rideshare company’s insurance policy is irrelevant.
If you’re injured in a collision caused by an Uber or Lyft driver during period 0, you file a claim under the at-fault driver’s personal insurance policy.
Compensation During Period 1
Once logged into their rideshare app, drivers are operating their vehicles for commercial purposes.
If the driver injures another motorist (or pedestrian) during this time, the victim first files a claim with the at-fault driver’s policy. If the driver doesn’t have any type of endorsement, the injured person files a claim with the rideshare company.
Uber and Lyft coverage pays up to:
- $50,000 bodily injury per person
- $100,000 bodily injury per accident (for more than one person)
- $25,000 in property damage
Compensation During Periods 2 and 3
Uber and Lyft provide liability coverage in these time periods in the amount of $1 million. However, the coverage only kicks in after an injured person files a claim with the Uber/Lyft driver’s own insurance.
These rules mean that if a rideshare driver injures a passenger or motorist, the victim first files a claim under the at-fault driver’s policy.
If the driver doesn’t have insurance, or if the amount of a person’s damages are above the driver’s policy limits, the victim can file a claim with the rideshare company.
Get Help From a Skilled Attorney
If you were injured in a taxi or rideshare accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for help.
Insurance companies for taxi and rideshare drivers fight claims tooth and nail. Adjusters will use every excuse to deny or minimize your claim. Disputes over which insurer should pay for your injuries can go on for months, and may end up in court.
An experienced personal injury attorney can cut through the insurance companies’ roadblocks. Injury lawyers will negotiate with adjusters and fight for their clients to receive the greatest amount of compensation possible.
Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation. You won’t have to pay a cent to speak with a lawyer to better understand your options following an accident.
Injury attorneys often work on a contingency fee basis. Contingency fees mean that you don’t have to pay unless your attorney successfully negotiates a settlement or wins your case in court.
Be smart following a taxi accident. Gather evidence to better support your claim and seek legal assistance to get the compensation you deserve.
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