Who pays for injuries caused by rideshare vehicles?
November 9, 2016
Who pays when an Uber, Lyft or other commercial ridesharing driver has an accident in New Jersey? This an important question now that these independent taxi apps have become the primary choice for many in need of a ride. If you are involved with an accident with a rideshare vehicle, who pays for the damages?
Gaps in insurance coverage
Unfortunately, the rideshare companies may not fully insure their drivers, despite claims to the contrary. Rideshare companies often tout that their drivers carry insurance policies of $1 million and upwards. Although this is may seem encouraging, these policies typically only cover rideshare drivers when they have been matched with a fare and are carrying a passenger at the time of the accident. As a result, if the car accident occurs during the period of time between fares, it may not cover drivers and passengers of other vehicles.
Even if the rideshare driver has adequate personal coverage, the injured party may still have difficulty collecting. It is common for many auto insurance policies to have terms denying claims filed for accidents that happen when the vehicle was being used for commercial purposes. As a result, other drivers and passengers in other vehicles may walk away empty-handed from rideshare accidents.
Attempt to solve the insurance gap
New Jersey is attempting to clarify the whole ride sharing insurance gap. Legislators want to fully regulate the private driving services. The Transportation Committee of the State Assembly recently put forth a proposal that will require criminal background checks and driving record checks for all employees of these services.
Also, the companies would have to pay an annual fee of around $25,000, and all vehicles used for commercial rideshare purposes would undergo rigid inspections.
Most importantly, the companies would have to ensure their drivers are fully insured, and the policies must be in force from the moment the driver logs into the app.
Nevertheless, many believe this legislation does not go far enough. It is still unclear whether the mandatory insurance will cover passenger medical bills, given that New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state. Nothing in the proposed law spells out for sure what a passenger can expect when hurt in a rideshare accident. Since, under New Jersey law, personal injury protection benefits do not apply in commercial vehicles, if the someone other than the rideshare driver is at fault for the accident, injured passengers may not be able to collect from the insurance policy of the rideshare company. As a result, passengers without auto insurance or healthcare insurance policies of their own may be left without recourse.
Get legal advice if injured while taking a ride
Since the issue of recovering medical bills and other losses can be complex, if you have been injured by a vehicle driven by a rideshare driver or as a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced attorney. A personal injury attorney can advise your further about your rights and work on your behalf to recover adequate compensation for your losses.