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Can Companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash Be Held Liable for Their Drivers’ Auto Accidents?

Companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash are changing the way that many people live their lives. Instead of owning and driving their own vehicles, many people in cities like Portland and Seattle are choosing to rely exclusively on ridesharing and delivery services. In other areas, people are using Uber and Lyft to find safe rides home after late nights out, and they are relying on DoorDash and other delivery services to avoid spending time waiting in line at restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses. Driving for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash also affords new opportunities for many individuals to earn some extra cash, and in some cases, to earn their entire living.

But, the proliferation of ridesharing and delivery services has led to other consequences as well. Along with some tragic recent news stories, there are daily reports of catastrophic auto accidents involving Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash drivers. The fact that these drivers are not professionally trained – combined with the fact that they earn more the more they drive – means that passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists are often put in harm’s way.

Ridesharing Insurance Laws in Oregon and Washington

While most states (including Washington) have enacted laws designed to help protect passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists after ridesharing and delivery service accidents, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reports that Oregon is currently the lone exception. While cities like Portland and Medford have adopted regulations that apply to non-professional paid drivers, this piecemeal approach leaves many people unprotected and it means that determining your legal rights after an Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash accident in Oregon can be a challenge. Washington adopted a law primarily focused on establishing driver insurance requirements in 2015. However, critics have said that the law’s mandatory insurance minimums are too low to provide adequate protection in many cases.

Of course, Oregon and Washington both have minimum insurance requirements for all drivers, and these requirements apply to paid drivers. But, the fact remains that (i) both states’ minimum insurance requirements are fairly low (including just $25,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage per person and $50,000 per accident); and (ii) standard auto insurance policies often exclude accidents that occur when drivers are operating on a “for-hire” basis.

With these considerations in mind, the next logical option for accident victims is to look to Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash for compensation. After all, these companies pay thousands of untrained drivers, so shouldn’t they be held responsible when these drivers cause serious collisions?

Can You Sue Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash after an Accident in Oregon or Washington?

Although Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have all taken the position that their drivers are independent contractors rather than employees, all three companies also have insurance to protect them in the event that they get sued by a passenger, pedestrian, or other motorist. For example, Uber provides different levels of coverage, depending on whether a driver is waiting for a ride request or transporting (or driving to pick up) a passenger:

“While you’re online with Uber and before you accept a request, you are insured for your liability to a third party if you are in an accident when you’re at fault. A third party is someone other than yourself. Coverage includes your liability to pay another person’s medical bills or to pay for property damage (like a damaged fence). . . .”

“While you drive to pick up a rider after accepting a request and during an Uber trip, you are insured for three things in case of a covered accident: 1. Third party liability coverage . . . 2. Uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage . . . [and] 3. Contingent collision and comprehensive coverage . . . .”

Notably, however, Uber’s website notes that, in most cases, its insurance coverage is limited to the minimum amount required by state law.

Uber has also demonstrated that it is willing to settle accident claims in some cases. For example, we recently reported on a case in which Uber agreed to settle a claim involving a fatal self-driving vehicle accident less than two weeks after the crash.

So, can you sue Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash after an accident? The answer is a clear, “Yes” with possible exceptions for cases involving certain forms of severe intentional misconduct by individual drivers. If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, or other ridesharing or delivery service vehicle, you should:

  • Record as much information as possible. Write down the driver’s vehicle information (make, model, and license plate number), and note whether he or she was driving for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, or another company. If you are able to obtain his or her insurance information, make sure you keep it in a safe place.
  • Seek medical attention promptly. In order to establish that your injuries are the result of your accident, it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more opportunity the insurance companies will have to try to blame you for your own injuries.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice. Rest if your doctor tells you to rest. Go to physical therapy if your doctor tells you to go to physical therapy. Right now, your health needs to be your top priority, and there are options available to help you avoid financial issues while your case is pending.
  • Learn more about your case. When seeking financial compensation after an auto accident, it is important to have as much information as possible. Our videos, What does it mean to file an insurance claim? and When should I hire an attorney after a car accident? are good places to start.
  • Speak with an auto accident lawyer. The best way to protect your legal rights, after an Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash accident, are to hire an experienced auto accident lawyer to protect them for you. It should cost you nothing to obtain legal advice regarding your auto accident case, and you should not have to pay anything unless you win just compensation.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at D’Amore Law Group

Our attorneys have decades of experience representing auto accident victims in Oregon and Washington. If you have been injured in an Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, or other ridesharing or delivery service accident, we encourage you to contact us promptly to discuss your case. To learn more about your legal rights in a free and confidential consultation, call us at 1-800-905-4676 or tell us how to reach you online now.

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