The rideshare app industry has exploded in popularity by matching people who need rides with drivers through their smartphones. It’s a great convenience. However, Uber and Lyft drivers have accidents, and passengers can get hurt. When this happens, it’s not always clear if and how an injured rider can recover medical bills and lost wages. Fortunately, Colorado has eliminated some of that ambiguity. Here is how to get compensation if you’re injured as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft ridesharing accident.
In This Guide:
- Whose Insurance Covers an Uber or Lyft Car Accident?
- Should You File a Lawsuit Directly Against Uber or Lyft?
- How Much Can I Recover in a Rideshare Injury Lawsuit?
Whose Insurance Covers an Uber or Lyft Car Accident?
As a non-motorist injured in an accident involving a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft, you can take comfort in the fact it probably wasn’t your fault. There didn’t used to be much more solace than that. As the popularity of ridesharing apps exploded in the early 2010s, their services raised legal concerns as they operated in a gray area between personal and commercial driving.
In 2015, Colorado brought some clarity to ridesharing regulations by passing the Transportation Network Company Act (SB14-125), or TNCA. The act clarified insurance requirements for rideshare drivers and the companies themselves, and set standards drivers must meet to provide rides in Colorado. The state bolstered protections for rideshare drivers and passengers injured by uninsured motorists with House Bill 22-1089, which was signed into law in 2022.
Passengers and pedestrians injured by rideshare app drivers now have a clearer path to compensation under Colorado law.
Determining Fault or Negligence
Colorado is an at-fault state when it comes to automobile accidents. This means you are free to file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance without reaching a certain threshold for damages. Colorado is also a modified comparative negligence state, which means you’re entitled to compensation only if your negligence is less than that of the defendant, the driver at fault. This is rarely an issue when passengers are injured since they weren’t driving.
In order to recover damages, an accident victim must prove they were injured by another person’s negligence. This means you must:
- demonstrate you suffered injuries or losses,
- show the driver was negligent, and
- prove the driver’s negligent actions caused your damages.
An Uber or Lyft driver can be considered at fault or negligent for:
- violating traffic laws,
- drowsy driving, or even
- driving while under the influence.
If the Rideshare Driver is at Fault
How much you can recover depends on whether the rideshare driver was on duty, if they were transporting a passenger, on their way to pick up a passenger, or waiting for someone to request a ride. With these qualifiers in mind, here is the upper limit of what you can recover from a Colorado Uber or Lyft driver’s insurance:
Up to $1 Million, if …
- you were injured as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft ridesharing vehicle, or
- you suffered injury as a pedestrian when struck by an Uber or Lyft driver.
Up to $125,000, if …
- you were injured as a pedestrian by an Uber or Lyft driver who was on duty and waiting for a ride request.
Note: The rideshare driver’s insurance pays up to $50,000 per person for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.
If the rideshare driver wasn’t on duty when the accident happened, their company’s liability insurance won’t pay. Treat this situation like a normal automobile accident. You may file a claim with the driver’s personal car insurance.
A lawyer can subpoena electronic records to determine if the driver was logged into their Uber or Lyft app at the time of the accident.
If Another Driver is at Fault
In Colorado, the at-fault driver must pay for accident-related losses and medical costs. However, if the faulted driver was driving a work vehicle and on duty when the accident occurred, you can file a claim with that company’s insurance.
If Another Driver is at Fault, but Uninsured
When an uninsured motorist (UIM) has caused a ridesharing accident you were injured in, then you can receive up to $200,000 per person, for as many as two passengers, for a total of up to $400,000. This is thanks to the uninsured motorist insurance law Colorado passed in 2022.
While the Expected Insurance Payment is Pending
Not all insurance companies process liability payments quickly.
One way to offset such delays is through a Med Pay provision in your own health or auto insurance. Med Pay is a certain coverage you might already have on your health or auto policy. It allows you to recover some compensation now while you wait for the at-fault party’s insurance to come through with the settlement.
Should I File a Lawsuit Directly Against Uber or Lyft?
Rideshare companies have a lot of money. As of October 2022, Uber’s market value was just over $57 billion. Why not bring a legal action against the company itself, especially if their driver’s negligence caused your injuries? In theory, you can. However, a direct lawsuit against Uber or Lyft is difficult. It’s due to the way they classify their drivers, and the different levels of insurance they are required to maintain.
Rideshare Drivers are Not Employees
Rideshare companies classify their drivers as independent contractors – not employees. This distinction creates some legal distance between the company and the actions of its drivers. Rideshare drivers already must carry insurance, in addition to the extra coverage Uber and Lyft provides when their drivers are on duty.
You can sue Uber or Lyft only when the company’s negligence contributed to your injuries and costs.
When Rideshare Companies Are Negligent
Uber or Lyft can be held responsible as companies for damages when the driver is at fault in an accident. However, it requires specific circumstances when the company itself was negligent. These include:
- hiring drivers with bad driving histories
- hiring drivers with past criminal convictions, especially for DUI or violent behavior
- bringing on inexperienced drivers
- allowing a driver to transport passengers in an unsafe vehicle by failing to ensure it was inspected by a mechanic
- hiring drivers with medical conditions that impair driving and judgment
- failing to address defects in their app software
Colorado requires ridesharing companies to screen drivers’ backgrounds and medical histories before they can transport passengers.
It’s important to talk to a personal injury attorney if you suffered an injury while using a rideshare service and you believe the ridesharing company failed to properly screen a driver who turned out to be reckless, unsafe to ride with, or a criminal.
How Much Can I Recover in a Rideshare Injury Lawsuit?
Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is not the same as seeking compensation through insurance. However, it could be the way to go if your injuries are serious and the negligent actions or inaction of the driver or rideshare company are especially egregious.
A personal injury damages award can include the costs of:
- past and future medical expenses
- past and future lost income, and
- non-economic damages for pain and suffering
The amount of a damage award depends on the costs you face as a result of your injuries from an Uber or Lyft accident, how long you’re out of work, and other factors relating to physical and emotional distress.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you decide to bring a personal injury lawsuit against Uber, Lyft, or one of their drivers, remember that Colorado has a three-year statute of limitations. This means you must file a suit within three years of the date of the accident.
Our Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
Getting injured in a car accident as a rideshare passenger can feel like the worst luck. Fortunately, that’s the kind of bad luck for which you can be compensated. Whether you’re facing an insurance matter that’s unreasonably delayed or considering a lawsuit over blatant negligence, our compassionate personal injury lawyers have the experience to help you. Call 303-688-0944 for your free case assessment.