Uber and Lyft drivers are ubiquitous in Southern California and these services are often referred to as “ridesharing” platforms that connect drivers to individuals who wish to get one-off transportation. However, in California companies that provide ride services like these are licensed as Transportation Network Companies (TNC). They have their own set of rules when it comes to maintaining insurance and therefore, they may also have different legal liabilities when TNC drivers are involved in motor vehicle accidents.
As car accident cases all develop based on their own facts and circumstances, it is important that readers remember legal advice should be sought from trusted personal injury attorneys. This post will outline some of the ways that TNC-involved vehicle accidents may play out, but no part of this post should be read or used as legal guidance.
Situation #1: TNC Driver Is Not Operating for Pay
Many individuals who drive for Uber and Lyft use their private cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles to offer ride services to passengers they are linked to through their TNC applications. When they are not logged into their apps and seeking riders, they may be driving their vehicles as private individuals. When TNC drivers are not operating as drivers and are driving effectively on their own time, any damages that they cause to others in vehicle accidents and collisions should be covered by their private insurance policies.
Situation #2: TNC Driver Is Active on App Without a Rider Matched
When a TNC driver chooses to begin seeking riders for pay, they log into their TNC app and make themselves available for ride matches. Matches do not always occur instantaneously, and as such TNC drivers may cause or be involved in accidents during this period of waiting. If a TNC driver is actively seeking a ride match but has not yet secured one when they cause a collision, then damages may be sought from TNC insurance policies.
In some instances, drivers may carry their own TNC commercial insurance and in such cases, victims may be able to seek compensation from those driver-held policies. However, some TNC drivers are commercially insured through their TNCs and when this happens victims may have to seek their damages from the entities’ policies.
Situation #3: TNC Driver Is Active and Carrying a Rider
If a TNC driver has picked up a rider and is involved in a crash, additional insurance policies may become relevant when victims seek to be compensated for their losses. Underinsured and uninsured policies must be in place, either through the insurance of the driver or their TNC, to provide indemnity for victims of accidents.
As readers can see, the facts of a TNC-involved motor vehicle accident will greatly affect how a victim may pursue their losses in order to be made whole after a crash. Accidents involving Uber and Lyft drivers are not uncommon, but not all personal injury attorneys are prepared to handle these sometimes-complex cases. Victims have the right to seek legal support from attorneys that know and understand TNC insurance law.