Who Is Responsible if You’re Involved in an Accident with a Ride Share Service?
In an auto accident, liability may or may not necessarily need to be established depending on where the accident occurred. In no-fault states, auto insurance providers are required to pay the medical costs of the insured driver and passengers regardless of who was responsible for the accident. Coverage is not as extensive under no-fault laws, but the intent behind them was to alleviate the burden on the court system from litigation.
Texas is not a no-fault state. Texas has a tort law system under which one party is held responsible for compensating the other party for personal injury and property damage in an accident. Your compensation then is contingent on establishing which driver was at fault.
That means that if you’re involved in a car accident, you may use the courts to decide which party is responsible.
So if you’ve been involved in an accident, as a motorist, passenger or pedestrian, the person determined to be at fault for the accident is liable. Their insurance provider compensates the other party to the extent of the policy coverage limits. Simple, right? Not so much in the case of so-called Transportation Network Companies (TNC), otherwise known as rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft.
Ride Sharing and Blame Sharing
Ride sharing services, unlike traditional taxi or livery services, typically hire drivers as independent contractors. Since they are not technically employees of the company, the ride service may not be liable for their actions. Company policies regarding insurance coverage vary from one service to another. Uber, for example, indemnifies drivers under certain conditions but at other times leaves their personal insurance to fill the gaps, and those gaps can come into dispute.
Drivers working for Uber will either be covered by their own personal insurance, the company insurance or some combination of both depending on whether they are driving a passenger, going to pick up a passenger or available with no passenger. This is where the legal waters can get murky. When an accident occurs involving a TNC vehicle, and under what circumstances, can complicate matters considerably.
Let’s say you have an accident with a ride share vehicle whose driver is between calls. As far as that particular service is concerned, the driver is not on the clock unless he or she is either driving a passenger or going to pick one up, thereby creating a potential grey area as to whose responsibility it is to provide coverage.
The company might leave the driver, and the driver’s insurance provider holding the bag, leading to a dispute as to which insurer will ultimately compensate you. Add to that the prospect that the driver’s insurance may not provide coverage when the driver is working, and it’s easy to see how problems can arise when an accident does happen.
Make the Law Work for You
If you’ve been in an accident and there is some dispute about who is responsible, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. You’ve been through enough pain and distress, don’t let bureaucracy or claim denials cause you additional duress. At Greening Law, we fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal. Greening Law is a seasoned team who know how the laws work in Texas, and who can make them work for you. Call us in Dallas for a free consultation.