If a Uber or Lyft driver causes your car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. Unless I say otherwise, this article applies equally to Lyft and Uber.
I’ve written a separate articles about:
- Uber Passenger Injury Claims
- Lyft Passenger Injury Claims if Another Driver Caused the Accident in Florida
- An Uber Driver’s Rights if Another Car Hits Him or Her
A “Rideshare driver” is an individual that is operating a motor vehicle in connection with the use of the Uber Driver application.
Steadfast Insurance Company insures Lyft’s drivers.
Medical Bills and Lost Wages – PIP
If an Uber driver’s negligence caused your injury, and you are covered by Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP), PIP should pay your medical bills and lost wages up to $10,000.
PIP is limited to $2,500 for your medical expenses if you are not diagnosed with an “emergency medical condition.”
Uber Rideshare driver’s negligence caused Uber passenger’s injury
Getting PIP to pay your medical bill and lost wages while an Uber passenger is similar to getting PIP to pay your medical expenses if you were in an accident involving a taxi in Florida.
If you do not qualify for Florida PIP by owning a car in Florida, or lived with a resident relative who owns a car, then most likely the Uber driver’s personal auto policy will not give you PIP benefits.
This is because, in Florida, an Uber driver’s personal auto policy will likely deny coverage because the driver gets paid a fee while driving. Florida personal auto policies have an exclusion when you are driving for a fee.
Tip: I’ve heard that most Uber drivers’ personal auto insurance policies are denying coverage for Florida auto accidents when the rideshare driver is working.
The exception is if the Uber driver has a commercial auto insurance policy with Foremost – or another commercial insurer who sells auto insurance to Uber drivers in Florida in the future.
Uber Insurance Doesn’t Have PIP
Uber’s insurance policy doesn’t have PIP. On Uber’s website, it says that No fault coverage (e.g., Personal Injury Protection) is provided in certain states at similar levels as limos or taxis in those cities.
In Florida, limos or taxis are not required to have PIP.
Starting July 1, When Logged On To App, But Not Engaged in a Ride, Uber Driver Gets Uber’s PIP
If Engaged in a Ride, Uber Won’t Have PIP
Medical Payments (“Medpay”) Coverage
If you are covered under an auto insurance policy with Medpay coverage, it may pay for the medical bills the 20% that PIP does not pay, up to $10,000.
Does Lyft’s Insurance Company Settle Personal Injury Cases?
Yes. I settled a case with Lyft’s insurer, Zurich American Insurance Company for $70,000. York Risk Services Group handled the claim for Zurich.
Minor Child Gets a Settlement with Lyft and its Insurer for Father’s Death from Lyft Accident
This isn’t my case. A lawsuit claimed that Lyft failed to properly train its driver, Pirooz Pakdel, who failed to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist, Loinier Perez of Miami.
The lawsuit claimed that on October 31, 2015 at 5:43 p.m., a Lyft driver struck the motorcycle while making an improper left hand turn from NE 1st Avenue onto NE 36th Street.
The motorcyclist was survived by his wife, Poliana, who was 8 months pregnant with their first child at the time of the crash. On November 16, 2015, the personal representative filed the lawsuit.
In Florida, a personal representative is appointed to sue for wrongful death for the estate and the survivors. In this case, the surviving spouse was the personal representative.
The minor child’s noneconomic damage claim is for loss of guidance, instruction and companionship, and mental pain and suffering.
The lawsuit said that Perez was hit while Pakdel was carrying Lyft passengers in his Jeep.
(Currently, in Florida, Lyft cars are required to have $1 million in liability insurance when carrying passengers. This insurance pays for anyone who the Lyft driver injures.)
Here is Lyft’s certificate of liability insurance (for Florida), which shows the $ 1 million combined single liability limit.
Perez was hit with such force that he was ejected from his motorcycle. He was declared dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center.
What Defenses Did Lyft Claim in This Lawsuit?
Lyft claimed that accident and damages that the personal representative sued for were caused by conditions and parties beyond the control of Lyft. Lyft said that other parties who it believed were responsible were a general contractor (GT McDonald) and taxi company Yellow Cab.
Specifically, Lyft argued that the general contractor and Yellow cab were negligent by blocking the view of the Lyft driver and further hindering his line of sight.
If a jury would have determined that someone other than Lyft’s negligence caused the crash, then Lyft’s liability would be reduced by the negligent party’s percentage of fault.
Lyft argued that the motorcycle rider’s negligence contributed to the accident and his injury, death and damages. It argued that he negligently operated or maintained the motorcycle in which he was riding so that it collided with the Lyft vehicle, or crashed without colliding with the Lyft vehicle.
Another of Lyft’s defenses was that the decedent (motorcyclist who was killed) failed to use an available safety device, a helmet, which would have prevented his injuries complained of either in whole or in part.
Consequently, Lyft claimed that the personal representative’s recovery shouldn’t be allowed or it must be appropriately reduced.
Lyft also claimed that the Lyft driver was an independent contractor.
Homicide Report Said Motorcyclist Suffered Blunt Force Trauma to Head and Torso
According to the guardian ad litem’s report, the homicide report stated that Perez sustained blunt force trauma to the head and torso. (A guardian ad litem is an independent attorney, who reviews the minor’s settlement if his net settlement is more than $15,000. The guardian ad litem tells the court whether he thinks the settlement is fair.)
The guardian ad litem said the settlement was fair.
Lyft Would’ve Likely Argued Motorcyclist Was At Fault for Not Wearing a Helmet
One of Lyft’s defenses was that the motorcyclist was partially at fault for not wearing a helmet, though it is not required. If a jury agreed, they would reduce the verdict by the percentage of the motorcyclist’s fault. However, like most wrongful death cases, the case never got to a jury.
On February 3, 2017, Poliana Perez, the personal representative of the estate and the survivors settled the case with Lyft and the Lyft driver. The settlement needed to be approved by the court since a minor child was receiving money.
Here is a copy of the Notice of Settlement that the personal representative’s Miami lawyer filed with the court.
Two Thirds of Settlement Went to Wife, One Third to the Son
Two thirds of the settlement went to the surviving wife, and one-third went for the son.
The court said that the minor’s settlement proceeds must be used to buy the Florida Pre-Paid College Plan (4 year University Plan). Below is a portion of the order that says this.
If you look online, the 4 year Florida prepaid college funds costs about $19,000 for a lump sum payment for a 1 year child. So we can assume that the minor’s portion of the wrongful death settlement was at least $19,000.
Part of Minor’s Settlement Must Be Used to Buy a Structured Settlement
The court also said that the remaining portion of the minor’ settlement money must be used to purchase a structured settlement, which shall be paid for directly by Lyft and the Lyft driver and/or their insurers. A structured settlement is a negotiated financial or insurance arrangement through which a claimant agrees to resolve a personal injury tort claim by receiving part or all of a settlement in the form of periodic payments on an agreed schedule, rather than as a lump sum.
The amount of the settlement was confidential.
My educated guess was that the minor child’s portion of the settlement was for at least $1 million dollars. Florida appeals courts have approved million dollar verdicts for a dependent minor child’s mental pain and suffering, and loss of guidance due to the death of a parent.
Since the mother received 66.6% of the settlement, we can assume that she received at least $38,000. However, my educated guess is that she received $1 million or more. Florida appeals courts have also approved multi-million dollar verdicts for a surviving spouse’s mental pain and suffering from the death of a spouse.
On April 7, 2017, the personal representative of the estate and the survivors agreed to dismiss the case with Lyft and the Lyft driver. The dismissal that was filed with the court is below.
From the date that the lawsuit was filed, it took about 1 year and 5 months for the parties to agree to dismiss the case via a settlement.
On June 1, 2017, the probate judge approved the minor’s child wrongful death settlement. This settlement was likely much larger than the average motorcycle accident settlement, since it involved the death of the motorcyclist.
Will Your Health Insurance Cover Your Medical Bills?
In Florida, your health insurance coverage should pay medical expenses that PIP and Medpay do not pay. In Florida, health insurance is secondary to PIP and Medpay. This means that PIP needs to be billed first.
After PIP is billed, your health insurance may pay for any remaining balances and/or you will get contractual discounts.
If your health insurance pays your medical expenses, it will likely have a right to be reimbursed from the settlement.
Personal Injury Claim Against Uber Driver
In addition to making a claim for benefits as described above, if an Uber driver’s negligence caused your injury, you can make a claim against the Uber driver for your out of pocket medical expenses, lost wages not paid by PIP, and pain and suffering.
There are two scenarios for your bodily injury (BI) claim against a negligent Uber driver. The two scenarios depend on how the Uber covered auto is being used:
- En route to pick up or traveling to final destination; or
- Driver is logged in but has not accepted a request
Let’s look at the first category.
Uber driver is En route to pick up or traveling to final destination
If the Uber driver is engaged in a ride, then the Uber is required to have $1 million dollars in combined single limit coverage. This limit is for each accident.
Uber’s certificate of liability insurance shows this $1 million limit. This policy is expressly primary to the driver’s personal auto policy.
This means that the Uber liability policy pays before the Uber driver’s personal auto policy. However, it will not take precedence over any commercial auto insurance for the vehicle.
If the Uber driver does not have commercial auto insurance for the vehicle, then you can make a claim through James River Insurance Company.
Make a Claim with the Uber Driver’s Personal Auto Insurance
You should make a claim through the Uber driver’s personal auto policy, and the James River policy. This is because Uber’s insurer will likely want to see that the driver’s auto policy is not commercial auto insurance.
You also may not know whether the Uber driver has accepted a trip as this may entitle you to more coverage.
If a rideshare driver’s negligence (who accepted a ride request through uberX…and I assume uberXL) caused your damages, the driver’s personal auto insurance will likely deny coverage since the driver is being paid a fee.
However, Uber’s policy with the James River Insurance Company policy provides $1 million of coverage per incident.
It is best to make a bodily injury liability claim against James River and the Uber driver’s personal policy at the same time. You want the James River Insurance Company to set its reserves as soon as possible.
This may speed up settlement of the claim. You also don’t want James River delay offering you money by saying that your claim needs to worth the limits of the Uber driver’s auto insurance before James River must pay.
Foremost Insurance Sells Business Car Insurance to Uber and Lyft Drivers
Foremost Insurance Group is the only auto insurer that I know of that sells commercial insurance policies to Florida Uber drivers.
Though that is not a Florida policy, coverages and limits are at least equal to or exceed those provided under the sample policy in Florida. Coverages and policy limits vary by state.
All UberBLACK, UberSUV, or uberTAXI rides are provided by commercially licensed and insured partners and drivers. Those transportation providers are covered by commercial insurance policies, in accordance with local and state requirements. I assume this means that Uber does not cover these vehicles.
What Happens if the Driver is logged in but has not accepted a request?
Let’s look at the second category of Uber drivers. Uber says that during the time that a ridesharing partner is available but between trips, most personal auto insurance will provide coverage.
Warning! I strongly disagree with Uber. I believe that if a Florida auto insurer finds out that a driver is using his or her car for ridesharing (e.g. Uber, Lyft, etc.), it will likely deny coverage.
As I mentioned earlier, it is because personal auto policies have an exclusion when a vehicle is being driven for a fee.
Uber’s $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 of contingent coverage between trips
If an Uber driver’s negligence caused your injury while the driver was between trips, the Uber driver’s personal coverage will likely deny coverage if they find out that he/she is an Uber driver.
However, the Uber driver is also backed by an additional policy that covers driver liability for bodily injury up to $50,000/per individual/per accident with a total of $100,000/accident and up to $25,000 for property damage.
Lyft’s certificate of liability insurance shows these same limits.
This policy is contingent to a driver’s personal insurance policy, meaning it will only pay if the personal auto insurance completely declines or pays zero.
Therefore, if a Rideshare driver’s negligence caused your injury, and he/she was available but between trips in Florida, you should make a claim through the Rideshare driver’s personal auto policy and the James River policy at the same time.
Send a request for insurance disclosure information to James River.
Is Uber’s Insurance Company Good?
Uber’s insurer, James River, is a surplus lines insurer in Florida. A person insured by such Surplus Lines insurer doesn’t have the protection of the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act (FIGA) if the insurer becomes insolvent (broke).
Insurers can become insolvent. I settled a case for $64,900 where one of the insurers for the liable party went broke. Fortunately, the insurer was an authorized insurer so FIGA stepped in to pay what the insurer owed.
If James River had been the insurer in that case, my client would have likely not gotten any money from one of the responsible parties.
I settled another case for $18,000 where one of the insurers went broke. The insurer that became insolvent was like a surplus insurer. Thus, FIGA didn’t have its back.
My client received nothing from its insured.
Is Lyft’s Insurance Company Good?
Zurich American Insurance Company insures Lyft’s drivers in car crashes. Zurich has an above average auto insurer in terms of paying personal injury claims. York Risk Services Group handles Zurich’s claims for Lyft accidents.
I settled a Lyft passenger accident case with York for $45,000. Another insurer, GEICO, paid $25,000.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your injury in a Florida car crash or other type of accident?
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