A T-bone collision between a rideshare vehicle and another car on a city road.Ridesharing companies erupted onto the public scene over a decade ago, giving individuals with extra time and a vehicle in good working order the opportunity to work as an ad-hoc taxicab through use of a sophisticated digital platform. While the popularity and utility of these companies is now undeniable, what’s also objectively true is that these companies were able to grow quickly and become so profitable simply by exploiting loopholes in the regulatory system.

Those same loopholes created major complications for individuals who got wrapped up in a rideshare accident — including rideshare passengers as well as others on the road hit by a rideshare driver. Recognizing the potential for abuse and exploitation, Connecticut and many other states passed sweeping laws to set up a system to protect the general public from the risks of rideshare collisions.

If you have been hurt in an accident with an Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare provider, these same laws can give you the ability to recover the costs of your medical bills and other damages through a liability insurance settlement. Reach out to Bert McDowell Injury Law for more information on your legal rights and how to maximize your claim’s chances of success.

Schedule a free case review today with our Connecticut rideshare accident attorneys when you call (203) 590-9169 or contact us online.

Rideshare Trips Were Verging on a Public Nuisance Before Regulations Were Enacted

By this point, nearly everyone has heard of ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber, and many of us have used the services for a ride. A 2019 Pew Research Center poll found that over half of adults aged 18 – 29 have used a rideshare service — and that number is likely to have gone up significantly since that year.

At the same time, rideshare services have been shown to have increased congestion on the roads in the U.S. by 1%, according to an MIT study, causing us to spend 4.5% more time overall in traffic. A separate study by the University of Chicago theorizes that rideshare services have increased the amount of motor vehicle crashes by 3%, even when accounting for expected year-over-year increases in the number of vehicles on the road.

There is no question, either, that one of the reasons rideshare companies were able to put up staggering financial numbers in their first few years of operation is because of their ability to operate in a legal gray area.

Since rideshare drivers are technically just using the app to find rides and handle payments, they are fully independent contractors. Never mind the fact that ridesharing (called “ridesourcing” by the companies themselves) platforms created a situation where millions of unregistered and unregulated taxis were taking to the roads!

By categorizing drivers as not part of the actual business model of their ridesourcing platform, ridesharing companies were able to avoid requirements in states like Connecticut to carry commercial policies for their drivers. Instead, drivers were getting into accidents, and their insurance companies were denying claims because drivers weren’t approved to use their vehicle for commercial (money-earning) purposes under their policy.

If you were hit by an Uber driver, in other words, you had to basically get lucky to have the accident covered.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners Steps in to Bring Law to the Wild West of Rideshare Insurance

Concerned about the growing issue of coverage for rideshare services, in 2016 the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recommended policies for states to consider ridesharing networks as a new form of business: a transportation network company, or TNC.

These policies included recommendations to require companies like Uber and Lyft to provide coverage any time a driver is officially “on the clock,” i.e. logged in and using the rideshare app. They also suggested states require oversight on the condition of vehicles being used.

Taking heed, the Connecticut General Assembly enacted new laws that closely followed the NAIC’s guidelines, while also extending existing insurance requirements to apply to rideshare platforms, effectively closing the loophole that existed in insurance coverage.

What Connecticut Laws Might Affect an Insurance Claim After a Rideshare Accident?

Fortunately for rideshare passengers — and everyone else on the road — Connecticut now enforced minimum insurance levels for rideshare drivers any time they are actively using the platform. Some of the most important laws and requirements to note are listed below.

All Transportation Network Company (TNC) Drivers Are Required to Have Insurance That Covers Their Commercial Activities

Rideshare companies are now required by law to verify that any driver registered to use the platform has insurance coverage available that applies to commercial usage of their vehicle.

Any time a driver is using a ridesourcing app, they must either have their own insurance policy available to cover minimum liability levels or be provided with such a policy by the rideshare company (CGS § 13b-120).

The minimums for drivers to carry during commercial TNC activities in Connecticut are:

  • $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a personal injury or death affecting one individual
  • $100,000 in personal injury coverage, per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage liability coverage, per accident
  • $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

During an Accepted Trip, the Rideshare Vehicle Must Be Covered by at Least $1,000,000 in Total Accident Coverage

Connecticut law defines two periods of rideshare app use in order to clarify when certain minimum coverages apply.

  • Period 1 refers to times when the driver is logged into the app and available to accept a ride, but they have no current rides accepted or in progress. During this period, the minimum insurance levels listed in the section immediately above apply.
  • Period 2 refers to times when the driver has either accepted a trip or is currently carrying a paying passenger on a trip. During period 2, the rideshare company must provide at least $1 million in total coverage per accident for any personal injuries, fatalities, or property damage inflicted (CGS § 13b-120(a)).

Rideshare Companies Must Disclose to Drivers What Insurance Coverage Is Available to Them

Before any driver is able to begin using the TNC platform and accept rides, the TNC company must disclose exactly what coverage is being provided by them to the driver and under what conditions that coverage applies. Drivers must also be reminded that their personal insurance policy may not cover any commercial TNC activities, in addition to the fact that using the vehicle for such activities might violate the terms of their loan or lease (CGS § 13b-120(i)).

All Drivers Must Carry Documented Proof of Insurance When They Are Using the TNC App

All ridesharing drivers have to carry proof of the insurance they have available, in order to present it to police officers and others involved in the event of an accident. Accordingly, rideshare companies must provide a publicly presentable proof of the insurance coverage they are providing.

TNC drivers have to present proof of insurance on request to any interested parties, which includes police officers responding to an accident call as well as insurers and claimants with a possible claim against their policy. In addition, the drivers have to disclose whether or not they were using the app or actively engaged in a ride-in-progress at the time of the accident.

If any interested party wants to verify whether or not the app was being used, their insurer can request a log of app usage by the registered driver, which must provide at least 24 hours of usage information, encompassing the 12 hours before and immediately after the wreck (CGS § 13b-120(f)).

Personal Injury Laws Entitle You to Damages for Accidents Caused by an Uber or Lyft Driver

Any time you are hit by a driver or hurt as a rideshare passenger, you are able to file a claim for damages if you can prove that the rideshare driver or the TNC company was at-fault.

A settlement for damages you have suffered can pay for:

  • Medical bills, past and future
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death damages, including the costs of funeral and burial

Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you file a claim efficiently while fully accounting for the losses you have experienced. Your ridesharing accident lawyer will also help you understand the legal approaches required for such a claim to succeed, including your rights, what forms of compensation are available, and what parties are most likely at-fault for your damages.

When insurers present a settlement offer, your attorney can verify that the amount is appropriate and reasonable, given the damages you have experienced. They can negotiate on your behalf — and even potentially file a lawsuit in order to compel the rideshare company, driver, or their insurance carrier to pay for appropriate damages.

If you have been hurt by an Uber or Lyft driver, our Connecticut rideshare accident law firm can be here for you. Our goal is to help you seek the maximum damages while reducing the time and stress spent managing the aftermath of your accident.

When you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen, so call (203) 590-9169 or contact us online to schedule a free case review today.