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What Happens if an Uber or Lyft Driver Hits My Car in North Carolina?

Uber or Lyft driver involved in a car accident

Any car accident can be scary and confusing, but accidents involving rideshare drivers are much more complicated than those involving private drivers. Many wonder, “What happens if an Uber or Lyft driver hit my car in North Carolina?” This short guide will help you understand your legal options and next steps following a rideshare-related incident.

Who Is Liable When a Rideshare Driver Causes an Accident?

Uber and Lyft are excellent transportation services. However, their drivers are only human and they often make mistakes that cause accidents.  Also, they are typically driving in unfamiliar areas guided turn-by-turn by the Uber or Lyft navigation App.  Thus, there is some level of driver distraction involved in most rideshare journeys.

When Uber or Lyft drivers cause accidents, it is difficult to identify and contact the proper insurance company that owes victims damages.  The Police Report will show the rideshare driver’s personal auto insurance information.  However, if the driver is actively involved in a rideshare journey, that coverage does NOT apply.  The exclusions in the North Carolina auto policy specifically exclude liability coverage whenever the driver is carrying people or property for a fee.  Thus, Uber and Lyft drivers are not covered by their own policies.

Uber and Lyft recently changed their insurance carriers, and they now have insurance partners that share the United States territory for their rideshare drivers.  For Uber drivers, the liability coverage is with one of these four carriers:  Allstate, Farmers, Liberty Mutual, or Progressive.  For Lyft drivers, liability coverage is with Allstate or Liberty Mutual.  These carriers often change so you may find another insurance company involved if you are a rideshare accident victim. liable can be tricky.

In general, you first have to identify the driver’s on/off duty status to determine which insurance company will owe for your injury claims and property damage claims.  Here are some examples:

  • When an on-duty Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident: Rideshare drivers are officially ”on duty” when they login to their company’s app and when they pick up, transport, or drop off passengers. The rideshare company’s liability insurance policy will likely apply if drivers cause an accident while on duty.
  • When an off-duty Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident: If a North Carolina rideshare driver causes a wreck while clocked out, their personal auto insurance policy will cover the victims’ claims. Other factors may come into play, but you can typically expect off-duty rideshare driver accidents to work this way.

For On-Duty Uber and Lyft Drivers, Available Insurance Coverage Depends on Whether A Rideshare Journey is in Progress

People injured in car crashes caused by Uber and Lyft drivers often have to wait to determine which insurance company will come forward to pay car damage and injury claims.  Once the insurance company is identified, you may ask “How much insurance coverage do Uber and Lyft provide to cover injury claims for accident victims?”  The answer varies depending on the driver’s status while they are on duty.

For Uber and Lyft drivers who are on the App, and available to accept a ride, but who have not yet received, accepted, or started a rideshare journey, liability coverage is limited to $50,000.00 per victim.  Thus, regardless of how serious the victim’s injuries are, the limits of coverage for all injury claims are rather low for drivers who are waiting for assignments.  For drivers who are on the way to pick up a passenger, or who are in the process of transporting passengers, liability coverage available for accident victims is $1,000,000.00.  This coverage is the same for both Uber and Lyft.  

In serious injury cases with high coverage limits, the best insurance adjusters are assigned and their sole goal is to minimize victims’ claim payments.  In these cases, aggressive personal injury lawyers can dramatically increase the value of your claims.  Injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no fees unless AND until the lawyer collects money for you.  In most cases, the lawyer more than pays his own fees by building proper medical evidence, presenting the strongest case, and negotiating toward a settlement that reflects the full value of all injury claims.  Also, personal injury lawyers handle all paperwork and all insurance claim filings so you can focus on your medical recovery and leave the homework to your attorney.  

What if I am a Passenger in the Uber or Lyft Vehicle? 

If a rideshare passenger is injured in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, the $1,000,000.00 policy applies to pay your injury claims.  Since a rideshare journey was underway, the higher coverage limit applies.  For the Uber or Lyft driver, if they did not cause the accident, they can present claims against the other driver AND they also have the benefit of $1,000,000.00 in Underinsured Motorist coverage on their rideshare policy.  Uber and Lyft passengers also have this Underinsured Motorist coverage available to pay over-and-above the at-fault driver’s liability policy in cases where the rideshare driver did not cause the accident.  If the Uber or Lyft driver did cause the accident, the rideshare customer has coverage up to $1,000,000.00 to cover claims for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering.  

How Does the Statute of Limitations Apply in North Carolina?

You may ask at this point, “An Uber or Lyft driver hit my car in North Carolina—what do I do next?”  We recommend reaching out to a dependable attorney with a proven track record like those at Nagle & Associates, P.A. Our team offers the legal services you need to proceed confidently.

One thing you should know about is the statute of limitations. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations sets rigid deadlines for filing a claim and pursuing compensation. You must file a claim within three years of an Uber or Lyft accident injury and within two years for a wrongful death case.

What Might Influence a Rideshare Driver To Cause a Car Accident?

Uber or Lyft drivers may cause an accident for various reasons. They often drive many hours daily and navigate unfamiliar roadways to pick up and drop off passengers. Some of the most common causes of rideshare-related incidents include the following:

  • Going too fast to reach a destination
  • Trying to text, call, or use the GPS
  • Driving after using alcohol or drugs
  • Paying attention to passengers instead of the road
  • Feeling fatigued behind the wheel
  • Having little to no driving experience
  • Being unfamiliar with the streets

What Compensation Can You Expect?

Settlements vary depending on your circumstances, the severity of your injuries, and how long the injuries last. In many cases, individuals recover compensation related to the following:

  • Medical expenses, lost wages, property repairs, replacement, etc.
  • Pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, etc.

Car accidents can be overwhelming and traumatic, leaving you with many unanswered questions and financial concerns. If you’ve been involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, there’s an additional complexity when it comes to identifying the proper insurance carrier and collecting maximum payment from all responsible parties.  

When one of the parties to the accident was operating a rideshare vehicle, there are two additional factors to consider: 1) Whose insurance company do you recover from? The driver’s insurance? Or the rideshare company?  2) What was the status of the rideshare driver – was he waiting to accept an assignment or was a rideshare journey in progress?

With an experienced personal injury attorney on your side, you don’t have to figure these issues out on your own. 

Get Professional Legal Help From Nagle & Associates, P.A.

Have you recently suffered injuries from an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver? At Nagle & Associates, P.A., we offer legal assistance to help you file your claim and pursue appropriate compensation. Contact our North Carolina personal injury lawyers for an immediate free legal consultation.   We will explain how to determine the Uber/Lyft driver’s status, how to locate the  proper insurance company, and how to collect the highest tax-free settlement for your injury and accident claims.