As ride-share continues to grow as a popular transportation alternative as well as a flexible means to earn income, concerns about liability when accidents occur also continue to be a subject of ongoing controversy.
Ride-share companies – also known as transportation network companies – do not classify their drivers as employees. Because drivers are not employees, Uber and Lyft claim that they are not responsible when their drivers cause accidents.
But ride-share drivers are not required to carry commercial liability insurance and that could leave ride-share clients without sufficient means to be compensated if an accident occurs.
The solution that transportation network companies came up with is to provide liability insurance for their drivers while they are working. Ride-share passengers who are injured in an accident caused by their driver can recover damages from the insurance policy provided by Uber or Lyft.
Even though ride-share companies provide insurance for their drivers and do not classify them as employees, there may still be times when an injured ride-share client can sue a ride-share company for the actions of their driver.
The Relationship Between Ride-share Companies and Drivers
Transportation network companies classify their drivers as independent contractors. Ride-share drivers must have their own vehicles. They set their own work schedules. They decide the territory where they will work. And drivers decide if they want to take a particular ride request or wait for a different one.
For persons who like to drive and are interested in earning extra money, ride-share offers an opportunity to work when it’s convenient and has minimal necessary qualifications for becoming a driver.
Ride-share companies do have requirements regarding the age and condition of ride-share vehicles and about the driving record and criminal history of their drivers. Individual states may have additional requirements that ride-share companies and drivers must also comply with.
Rideshare Driver Requirements In Louisiana
The Louisiana Legislature formally established transportation network companies in the state in 2019 and tasked the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDTD) with the job of creating the regulations to govern their operation.
Ride-share companies all have similar qualifications for their drivers. To drive for Lyft in Louisiana, drivers must meet the following general qualifications:
- Vehicles must be 2011 or newer, 4-door, and have 5-8 seats
- Vehicles cannot be titled as salvage, non-repairable, or rebuilt
- Vehicles must have valid plates and current registration
- Drivers must be 25 years or older
- Drivers must have a valid driver’s license
- Drivers must have personal auto insurance meeting the state’s minimum requirements
- Drivers must pass driving records and criminal background checks
Driving record – Any of the following may disqualify a potential driver from being accepted by Lyft:
- Four or more moving violations in the last three years
- One major moving violation in the last three years
- A DUI in the last seven years
- A serious conviction related to driving in the last seven years
Criminal background check – Lyft drivers cannot have been convicted of:
- A violent crime
- A sexual offense
- An act of terror
- DUI in the last seven years
- An offense involving fraud in the last seven years
- A drug-related offense in the last seven years
- A theft or property damage offense in the last seven years
How Uber or Lyft Might be Liable for Accidents Caused by Their Drivers
Both Uber and Lyft provide third-party liability coverage for their drivers as long as drivers are logged onto the ride-share app. There are two relevant time periods for coverage to apply.
Period 1: A driver is available or waiting for a ride request.
- $50,000 bodily injury per person
- $100,000 bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 property damage per accident
Period 2: A driver is en route to pick up or is transporting a rider.
- $1,000,000 third-party liability
- $1,000,000 uninsured motorist coverage for the driver, riders, and vehicle
In most cases, the only source of recovery against a transportation network company for injuries sustained when a ride-share driver causes an accident is the insurance maintained by the company.
However, a ride-share company may become directly liable to a rider injured by their driver when the ride-share company hires an ineligible driver. If a ride-share company does not screen a driver as thoroughly as they are required to and that driver causes an accident that injures a rider, the rider now may have a direct claim against the ride-share company that is independent of the driver’s actions.
If a transportation network company fails to properly inform a driver of required policies and procedures such as its non-discrimination policy, and the driver discriminates against a rider for a protected characteristic, such as a medical condition (Lyft anti-discrimination policy), the ride-share company may be liable for its own mistake.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Uber or Lyft
While hailing an Uber or Lyft may be a convenient solution for your transportation needs, sorting out responsibility and sources of recovery after a ride-share accident can be anything but convenient. There may be multiple insurance companies involved and a lot of finger-pointing as everyone tries to limit their responsibility for the accident.
A Louisiana Uber or Lyft accident lawyer can help quickly determine who is legally responsible for the accident and identify all of the resources available to compensate for a rider’s injuries. Additional investigation may be necessary to gather the evidence required to prove fault and recover the maximum compensation.
Negotiations with insurance companies will be necessary and if negotiations fail to achieve a satisfactory result then a lawsuit against an insurance company or the rideshare company itself may need to be filed to obtain a complete recovery.
At Alvendia, Kelly & Demarest, our personal injury attorneys have been serving clients in New Orleans since 2003. We know the ride-share laws in our state and what is necessary to negotiate favorable settlements for persons injured in ride-share accidents. Call 504-618-1632 and schedule a free consultation or contact AKD here.