What Happens When There’s An Accident?
Since Uber and Lyft drivers tend to log many more miles behind the wheel than an average driver, their chances of being involved in a motor vehicle accident are certainly elevated. In such a situation, legal help from rideshare car insurance attorney in Florida proves to be a blessing in disguise. Therefore, in any situation where there is potential risk, being informed and prepared is not only useful but necessary. Let’s consider some of the many issues that could come into play.
Important Considerations For The Rideshare Driver
- An accident has happened, so what should I do?
- Does my rideshare company provide any insurance for partners?
- Are there any exclusions? If so, what are they?
Most drivers are aware that their auto insurance policies typically have multiple exclusions for different possible scenarios. Keeping this in mind however, many may be surprised to find that their personal policy may not even cover the basics if they are performing duties as a rideshare driver. Some insurance policies may classify your personal vehicle as a ‘commercial vehicle’ if an accident claim is made, which will leave you exposed with no liability or collision coverage at all. If you’re a rideshare driver you need to be armed with knowledge about your insurance coverage in advance, before an accident happens.
What Can You Do To Protect Yourself When An Accident Occurs While Driving?
If the unthinkable happens, and you do find yourself in an accident while performing duties as a rideshare driver, it is important to consider all your options and the following crucial steps:
Injury? Your First Step Should Be To Ensure That You and Your Passenger, or Passengers, Are Safe and Have Avoided Injury
You’ve had an accident and your anxiety is accelerating; however, it is important to remember to try as best you can to stay calm. Observe your passengers and yourself to make sure that no one is injured. If anyone has sustained any injury or is nonresponsive, call 911 immediately to request emergency medical services.
If you suspect anyone has sustained an injury, even if it seems minor, it is always the best policy to see a trained medical professional because some injuries can progress and worsen.
Be Informed About All The Uber Periods
If you drive for Uber you should be intimately familiar with the rideshare insurance the company provides for its partners via Florida rideshare car insurance attorney’s. While Uber does provide a type of commercial insurance to cover its drivers, it may not always be immediately active the second you open your Uber app. Drivers should be aware that their driving time is sectioned into three periods. Uber will consider these periods when deciding how to apply insurance, and the particular period during which the accident occurred may have a direct impact on coverage.
This is the period in which the driver has logged in to the app but is waiting for a passenger pickup request. Just because you are logged in and ready to work does not mean you are covered. As Uber considers its drivers to be contractors and not employees, Uber’s complex rideshare policy will not cover accidents that happen before a driver accepts his or her passenger. Thus, Uber considers this period to be off duty and will not cover your accident. Uber will only provide coverage once a rider has made a request for a pickup. Be aware that you should consider your options with individual rideshare policy coverage or commercial driver auto insurance coverage, for Uber will not cover you during Period One. You’re on your own out there in their eyes for Period One. And while you may be able, in some cases, to make a claim against your own personal auto insurance policy, it is not guaranteed, so be informed and know the limits of all your coverage.
Uber considers Period Two to be the time during which a driver is on his or her way to pick up a passenger. Uber ‘on duty’ coverage does begin when a ride has been requested and the driver accepts that request, but an accident during this period can introduce many complex variables. Problems could potentially arise. Consider the following scenario. You’re en route to a pickup but are involved in an accident on your way to it, obviously your rider is not yet in the vehicle and will probably be cancelling their request for pickup—this is where the situation becomes problematic. Will Uber know if the accident happened prior to or following the cancellation? This is critical because you may realize that your accident happened solidly during Period Two, but Uber may label this a Period One accident.
This period is the ‘safest’ period for an Uber driver in terms of coverage as there is no gray area. The passenger is in the vehicle and the driver is clearly ‘on duty’ thus coverage is guaranteed.
Gather Evidence And Make A Detailed Documentation Of The Accident
Uber strongly encourages all its drivers to document details of any accident. And as was stated in the aforementioned periods overview, Period Two can be exceptionally thorny thus it is critically important that a driver document all details of the accident. The first piece of evidence you should gather as a rideshare driver is the app itself. Take a screenshot of your phone that shows the app, as it will provide proof that your ride request was active and the accident happened before a cancellation was made. Witnesses and detailed accounts, documentation, etc. are all useful for your case so talk to bystanders and witnesses and gather any information you can about the incident and be sure to get thorough contact information for anyone on the scene. Involve the police, as police will make a report and you can request a copy of their report.
Get In Touch With Your Personal Insurance Company
If the driver’s vehicle has sustained damage, but no other vehicle is involved, the driver’s personal insurance might suffice. In every accident situation, drivers should always contact their personal rideshare car insurance attorney in Florida. And if any other vehicles are involved, contact each driver’s insurance company as well. It is important that all involved drivers get in touch with their insurance providers as each provider will assess the accident and begin their own investigation of the accident.
In many scenarios, a driver would be asked to pay their structured deductible; however, deductibles will usually be reimbursed if the driver is not at fault for the accident. If this is the case, you may not need to contact Uber or involve them in any way. But if you rent your Uber work vehicle, you will absolutely want to file a formal claim and report of the accident, and follow the standard protocol.
When Should You Hire A Lawyer?
Insurance claims for rideshare partners can often be complex, and may present some challenging problems through the process of reporting and filing the claim. It is rather common for an insurance company to attempt to deny a claim due to the driver’s use of the vehicle in a professional capacity. For these reasons, it could be wise to contact an attorney for any accident, big or small, and especially if there are any injuries to the drivers or passengers. Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation to discuss the case. Lawyers can contact Uber and your car insurance company on your behalf as well.
Recapping Some Important Points
- Rideshare drivers are at a much higher risk for accidents due to longer hours on the road.
- Long hours on the road can sometimes lead to fatigued driving.
- Some states consider rideshare drivers to be commercial drivers and require appropriate commercial driver licensing.
- States that require commercial licensing for Uber drivers may prosecute you after an accident if you are not properly licensed.
- Rideshare drivers may be heavily impacted financially by accidents due to their potential loss of income.
Some Final Thoughts On The Matter
If you are required to have a commercial driver’s license you should not assume that you need commercial insurance. Check with your individual state and the DMV. Drivers may be able to attain a special hybrid type of insurance custom built for Uber and Lyft drivers. But whatever the case may be in your state, you should always be aware of the laws regarding safe driving, aware of your insurance coverage, and aware of your requirements under the law, for that, contact a seasoned rideshare car insurance attorney in Florida. Always be insured to cover your losses and liability, and be sure that you understand how your insurance policy protects you, and where it may fall short. A prepared driver will have an understanding of all these issues before they even begin day one on the job as a rideshare driver.
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