Ride-Sharing Accidents in California: Who is Liable?

by Staff Blogger | July 24th, 2023

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft provide Californians with a convenient way to travel across the state. However, since 2011, ride-share drivers have been involved in an increasing number of accidents and fatalities, with around a 3% annual increase.

These accidents are often due to collisions with other vehicles, single-car accidents due to driver negligence, and incidents involving pedestrians or cyclists. Uber’s latest safety report found that 94% of accidents between 2019 and 2020 resulted from negligent behavior by third-party drivers, such as speeding or intoxicated driving.

Understanding potential liability in a ride-share accident can help you know your rights and obtain compensation if you’re injured in a crash.

Insurance Policies and Liability: The Role of Ride-Sharing Companies

Liability in ride-share accidents can be complex. These incidents often involve multiple parties, including ride-share drivers, the ride-share company, third-party vehicles, and passengers.

  • Ride-share drivers: The driver operating the vehicle at the time of the accident may bear responsibility for the collision if they violated traffic laws or drove recklessly. However, their liability may depend on their active status at the time of the incident:
  • If the driver was driving on their own time and was not signed into the Uber or Lyft app, you could receive compensation based on the limits of their personal auto insurance policy.
  • If the driver is available for ride requests when the incident occurs, you can obtain compensation from the ride-share company. Uber and Lyft provide commercial liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage under these circumstances.
  • An active ride-share driver in transit or on the way to pick up a passenger will be covered for $1 million by the ride-sharing platform.
  • Ride-share companies: Companies like Uber and Lyft may also share liability, as they have a duty to ensure the safety of their passengers. Driver training, background checks, and maintenance of their fleet may contribute to their liability.
  • Third-party vehicles: In some cases, another vehicle not associated with the ride-share service may have been involved in the accident. You can file a claim against a third-party driver if their actions or negligence led to the collision.
  • Passengers: Passengers may have contributed to the accident by distracting the driver, not wearing seatbelts, or engaging in other unsafe behaviors. Depending on the circumstances, they may share partial liability.

If you sustain injuries from a negligent Uber or Lyft driver, your California car accident attorney with Berg Injury Lawyers can help you determine liability and seek a settlement from the responsible party.

California’s Laws and Regulations on Ride-Sharing

Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft fall under the classification of transportation network companies (TNCs) in California. Ride-share drivers and their companies are also subject to specific periods for liability in case of car accidents under state law. These periods include:

  • Period 1: The driver enters driver mode and accepts a ride request during this period. The ride-share company’s liability insurance covers $50,000 per physical injury, $100,000 per accident, and $30,000 for property damage during this period.
  • Period 2: The ride-sharing company provides a minimum of $1 million in commercial liability during this period.
  • Period 3: The $1 million commercial liability coverage continues when the driver picks up a passenger. It ends as soon as the passenger leaves the vehicle.

Understanding these nuances can help your lawyer establish liability and pursue legal action on your behalf. They can use these California guidelines to help you know how to sue a rideshare company after a crash if the driver’s actions led to your injuries. 

Navigating the Aftermath: Steps to Take After a Ride-Sharing Accident

If you are injured in a rideshare accident, contact emergency services immediately. Then, take the following steps to document the incident and protect your rights to compensation:

  • Document the Scene

Gather evidence, such as photos and videos of the accident site and witness statements. Obtain the contact and insurance details of the driver since ride-share drivers must have both personal and commercial insurance.

  • Seek Medical Treatment

Some injuries, like whiplash, may not manifest immediately after an accident. Schedule a visit with your doctor to assess and document any hidden injuries. Your medical records can support your insurance claim and help your lawyer connect your injuries with the accident.

  • Report the Incident to the Ride-Share Company

Inform the ride-share company about the accident as soon as possible. You must complete a claim form for Uber or Lyft, so they can begin reviewing your claim and award you compensation under their liability policies.

Contact a Ride-Share Attorney to Evaluate Your Case

A California car accident lawyer from Berg Injury Lawyers can help you receive fair compensation if you are involved in a ride-share accident. Our experienced attorneys understand the complexities of ride-sharing accidents and can negotiate with ride-share companies or third-party driver insurers on your behalf. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.