Colorado is a fault insurance state, which requires drivers who are responsible for car accidents to pay for the damages of their victims. People injured in these collisions can seek compensation for their losses, such as medical care and lost wages, by filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
While these laws may seem straightforward, collecting compensation becomes more complex if you are in an accident with a rideshare vehicle. In these situations, it is important to take steps to protect yourself, preserve evidence, and understand the unique claims processes that Uber and Lyft oversee.
Understanding Liability in Rideshare Accidents
Colorado, like most states, follows a fault-based approach to car accident claims. To prove liability in a crash, you will need to gather enough evidence to prove three important elements.
- The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and obey traffic laws.
- The at-fault driver breached that duty of care.
- You suffered injuries and damages as a direct result of the breach of care.
These liability rules still apply in claims involving rideshare vehicles. If you are in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft with another driver, and the private driver’s actions are responsible for the accident, you will proceed with your claim in the same way as if no rideshare drivers were involved. However, if you are in an accident where the Uber or Lyft driver is partially or completely responsible, different processes apply.
Legal Options for Rideshare Accident Victims
Uber and Lyft consider their drivers independent contractors, not employees. As a result, the companies are not directly liable for any accidents that their drivers may cause. However, these companies do provide insurance coverage for injured drivers and passengers.
If you suffer injuries due to the negligence of a rideshare driver, these companies require you to pursue a claim through the at-fault driver’s private insurance before filing a claim under the company policy. Most private insurance policies have a business use exclusion, which prevents compensation in cases where the driver was using his or her vehicle for business purposes. The private insurance company is likely to deny your claim for this reason.
After denial, you can file a claim under Uber or Lyft’s insurance policy. The amount of coverage you can receive varies based on the stage of the ride at the time of the accident.
- If the driver was not logged into the rideshare app, you will not receive Uber or Lyft coverage.
- If the driver was logged into the app but had not accepted a ride request, you can receive liability coverage up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 total.
- If the driver accepted a trip and was en route to pick up a passenger, or a passenger is in the vehicle, liability coverage increases to $1 million.
Steps to Take Immediately After a Rideshare Accident
The moments after a rideshare accident are the most crucial for protecting your future claim. Immediately after the crash, take the following steps to preserve evidence and seek help.
- Call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement.
- Seek medical attention and save all records of your visits.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with all involved drivers.
- Ask any witnesses in the area for their contact information.
- Take photographs of the accident site, your injuries, and the vehicles involved.
- Contact a rideshare accident lawyer.
Since rideshare accidents are so complex, it is important to seek the assistance of a Denver car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will understand your pathways to compensation based on the circumstances of your case and can initiate the necessary processes to secure the funds you need to recover. Before speaking with an insurance adjuster or company representative, speak to your rideshare accident attorney about your legal options.