Lyft and Uber drivers can pose a significant threat to others. This is true whether you are a pedestrian, a passenger, or another driver on the road.
The nature of a rideshare driver’s job poses a distraction that other drivers don’t have. That’s because their jobs require them to use their phone to accept passengers and follow navigation directions. Consequently, they are more susceptible to accidents than drivers entirely focused on the road.
You might be entitled to financial compensation if you were injured in a rideshare accident in Colorado. But how do you know which party is legally responsible for compensating you? Should you pursue a claim against the driver, the company, or both?
Read on for more legal information about determining who is liable after an Uber or Lyft accident in Colorado.
Who Is Liable for My Injuries After an Uber or Lyft Accident?
You must consider a few factors to determine if the company is liable for your accident injuries. First, the driver’s status at the time of the accident will affect who you can hold accountable for your injuries.
Rideshare companies carry liability insurance. However, Colorado imposes liability limits according to the driver’s status during the accident. Such liability limits will depend on the following circumstances:
- Whether or not the driver was logged into the rideshare app during the accident
- Whether the driver was logged into the app and waiting for a passenger to request a ride
- Or if a passenger was in the vehicle while they were going to pick up another passenger
Basically, if the driver was not logged into the app or “on the clock” when the accident occurred, you need to pursue the driver’s insurance. This is because Lyft and Uber drivers legally must have personal motor vehicle insurance. However, that only guarantees that some drivers actually carry it.
Filing a Rideshare Personal Injury Lawsuit
An experienced Denver rideshare accident attorney can provide the best legal advice based on your case and help you recover damages. Generally, after an Uber or Lyft accident caused by the driver’s negligence, victims are entitled to financial compensation.
Colorado’s Negligence Standard
The first thing to do is prove that the rideshare driver’s negligence caused the accident and your consequential injuries. Colorado has specific negligence laws to determine liability. In addition, Colorado expects all drivers to drive with reasonable care. Therefore, you need to prove the following:
- The driver owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (in this case, that would be for the rideshare driver to drive safely and not harm the plaintiff)
- The driver breached their duty of care.
- Your injuries were caused by the driver breaching their duty of care.
- That you, the plaintiff, sustained monetary damages from the injuries
Exercising Good Will On the Road
The victim can pursue a personal injury claim if drivers fail to exercise reasonable care and cause an accident.
In Colorado, “exercising reasonable care” Includes:
- Watching out and being mindful of pedestrians
- Keeping a lookout for obstacles on the road
- Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles
- Following the speed limits and other traffic rules
- Not driving while impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- And not driving recklessly
If you were injured because a driver breached their duty of care and caused an accident that led to your injuries, you could seek compensation.
What if It’s Clear the Driver Was at Fault for the Accident?
If the rideshare driver were at fault, the type of liability coverage would depend on the driver’s working status during the accident.
What Happens After I Get Injured While Riding in an Uber or Lyft?
Colorado law requires commercial rideshare entities like Uber and Lyft to carry minimum liability coverage. Since they are considered TNCs, or transportation network companies, they must meet specific insurance regulations for accident coverage.
So, let’s say you sustain injuries as a passenger during a rideshare in a service car. The company’s liability coverage will cover your damages. Commercial rideshare liability covers up to $ 1 million per accident. If your damages exceed that limit, you may need to seek the remaining compensation from your underinsured motorist coverage.
What if I Was Not Wearing a Seat Belt at the Time of the Accident?
We all know that we are supposed to wear our seatbelts, but not everyone follows that rule, especially if you treat an Uber or Lyft like a cab. According to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, 65% of people don’t bother wearing a seatbelt in a cab. On the contrary, 90% report wearing a seatbelt in a private car. However, in a rideshare car, wearing a seatbelt is always safe. Moreover, not wearing a seatbelt while the rideshare car was in an accident can affect your personal injury claim.
The rideshare company could use your failure to wear a seatbelt as a defense during the accident lawsuit. This is because Colorado follows modified comparative negligence laws. In other words, if an injured person is partially at fault for their injuries, that will lower their award amount.
Modified comparative negligence is a system of determining the exact degree of each party’s fault. That directly affects the amount of compensation the plaintiff can receive. So if a judge or jury finds that you contributed 30% fault to the accident, they can lower your award by 30%.
What Happens if the Driver Was Not Working or Logged Into the App When My Injuries Occurred?
If the driver was in their service car but not logged into the app (therefore not working), they will be personally responsible for your injuries. In this case, the injury victim needs to file a claim through the driver’s personal auto insurance.
Colorado law requires rideshare drivers to carry insurance policies with liability minimums of:
- Bodily injury – $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage – $15,000 per accident
You may have to resort to your underinsured motorist coverage if the driver does not have personal insurance.
What if the Vehicle Vehicle Operator Is Logged in and Waiting for a Passenger Request?
Perhaps you were injured by a rideshare driver in some other way than as a passenger. For example, it’s possible you were another driver on the road or a pedestrian when the driver caused an accident and injured you. If this happens while the driver is logged in but not yet transporting a passenger or going to get one, special rules apply.
Or, let’s say a driver is on the clock but still needs a passenger and is waiting for a pick-up request. The driver would be logged into the app and considered “on the clock.” However, the appropriate coverage is a unique type.
This is when Uber and Lyft’s contingent liability coverage might kick in. Contingent liability coverage would apply when the driver has no liability insurance or is underinsured. The company’s contingent liability coverage would cover the difference. Contingency liability limits are as follows:
- Bodily injury – $50,000 per person
- Bodily injury – $100,000 per accident (covering all people injured in a given accident)
- Property damage – $25,000 per accident
What Happens When the Rideshare Driver Has a Passenger or Is on the Way to Pick up a Passenger?
Total liability coverage limits apply if:
- you were injured as a passenger during the ride
- or the driver is en route to pick up an accepted ride
The company’s insurance would be solely liable for covering all injuries and damages. Remember that their insurance cap is $ 1 million per accident. Coverage might include:
- Injuries to a current passenger
- Damage to another driver (while transporting a passenger)
- A rideshare driver who hits a pedestrian while transporting a passenger or going to get one
Is the Employer Responsible if the Driver Is the Negligent One?
The company can be held legally responsible for the driver’s negligence through vicarious liability. Through the legal doctrine known as respondeat superior, the plaintiff can hold the employee and the employer responsible. As long as the accident took place within the scope of employment or agency, the plaintiff can look to hold joint liability when assigning damages.
Under vicarious liability, any person or entity can be held responsible for another party’s actions (or inactions) if. So even if the company is not directly responsible for your injuries, they might be vicariously liable for their employee’s negligent actions.
Are Uber Drivers Considered Independent Contractors?
In the case of an accident, Colorado will hold independent contractors and company employees to different negligence standards. However, there is a lot of debate over whether Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors. It depends on the local legislation in your state.
Colorado has passed legislation (CRS § 40-10.1-601) to define Uber drivers as “individuals who use their vehicles to provide ride services through a company.” However, the legislation doesn’t specifically differentiate whether they are employees or independent contractors. Your attorney can best advise you on liability and insurance coverage possibilities.
What Damages Can I Recover After a Ride-Sharing Accident in Colorado?
After sustaining injuries in a rideshare accident, you can recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those which are easily measurable with a definitive value. On the other hand, non-economic damages are less objective damages without a fixed cost. Some examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity
Non-economic damage examples include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment or reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
Contact a Rideshare Car Accident Attorney in Denver, CO
Contact our Denver rideshare accident attorneys if you or a loved one was injured in an Uber or Lyft accident. We have a proven track record and proudly provide an esteemed legal reputation. Furthermore, we approach every client with compassion and understanding while working energetically to deliver the best results.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation, or call (720)500-HURT.