At Clark and Steinhorn, LLC we see an ever increasing number of cases involving so-called ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft. Sometimes our clients are injured by Uber or Lyft drivers while they are passengers in ride-sharing vehicles and sometimes when our clients are in their own vehicles or pedestrians.
The question for both sets of circumstances is what insurance is applicable and how much is it? The answer is a little bit odd. It depends. What that reflects is the unusual arrangements the ride-sharing services have cobbled together to protect their bottom line and those who are badly injured in motor vehicle accidents.
Fundamentally, whether one is a ride sharing driver or not, the state of Maryland requires that all vehicles be insured. The state requires a minimum of $30,000 per individual claim and $60,000 per incident. Greater amounts of insurance are available and highly advisable. The problem is that many personal insurance policies attempt to exclude coverage from business uses of the insured car or truck.
Which is to say that the ride sharing driver is required to have their own insurance but that insurance may not be functional if a crash occurs when the insured vehicle is being used as a Lyft or Uber ride. This has led the ride-sharing services to create a two tiered insurance system wherein Lyft or Uber drivers en route to a fare are provided a policy or $50,000 per individual claim and $100,000 per accident, thus providing more than Maryland's minimum insurance.
A different quantum of coverage is provided when the Lyft or Uber contains a passenger. This is a single limit $1,000,000 policy. This doubtless is intended to reassure ride sharing passengers that if they are in a bad accident there will be sufficient insurance coverage. The problem is that people who are in their own vehicles or are pedestrians, when injured by a Lyft or Uber driver's negligence are treated quite differently depending upon whether the ride sharing vehicle has a passenger in it or not.
This distinction will be lost on catastrophically injured victims of ride sharing driver's negligence. Their injuries remain the same without regard to whether the Lyft or Uber has a passenger on board. The logical solution would be for a $1,000,000 policy to be in effect at all times for Uber and Lyft drivers but of course that may be more expensive for these fantastically profitable companies.
Look for this unfortunate situation to result in some highly significant personal injury verdicts as the court system reasons out the relationship between ride sharing services and the public they effect. In the meantime, call Clark and Steinhorn, LLC at (301)317-1001, we will point you in the corrcet direction.