Rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, are changing the way we travel from place to place, especially in cities like Seattle that lack a comprehensive public transit system. With a simple tap of your smartphone screen, you can request a ride, get a price quote, track the driver’s location, get an estimated arrival time, and pay the fare without ever opening your wallet!
Because these types of services are fast, easy, and often less expensive than a traditional taxi, the rideshare industry is booming. A 2016 study concluded that Seattle Uber drivers are logging more miles transporting passengers than traditional taxi services.
Uber Accident Fatality in Seattle
Not surprisingly, the increase in rideshare services has resulted in a growing number of traffic accidents involving their drivers. Seattle was featured in national news when a 35-year-old man was killed in March of 2017 after his Honda Accord was hit by an SUV driven by a 60-year-old Uber driver. The impact caused the victim’s car to slide sideways into a tree, slicing the car in half and trapping the man inside. After being rescued, he later died at the hospital. The SUV traveled another two blocks and crashed into a gas pump, causing a small explosion and fire. A female passenger in the SUV was hospitalized with minor injuries while the driver remained unhurt.
Protecting Rideshare Passengers
Thanks to Washington State Senate Bill (SB) 5550 passed in 2015, the injured Uber passenger and the family of the victim should be able to recover damages from the Uber driver’s insurance company. The law established statewide mandatory minimum commercial insurance limits for all ridesharing vehicles and included the following requirements:
- The rideshare vehicle must be covered with minimum liability benefits up to $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $30,000 for property damage effective as soon as the driver logs into their ridesharing network and is waiting for a fare request.
- Once the driver accepts a ride and is on his or her way to pick up the passenger, the coverage increases. It is now single limit liability coverage of $1 million, plus UIM coverage of $1 million and the personal injury protection required by state law.
- The rideshare company must have proof that their affiliated drivers have this insurance coverage. If the drivers do not have the insurance, then the company must provide it.
- If a driver is operating under multiple networks (i.e., he or she has both the Uber and Lyft apps open at the same time), then the responsibility is split equally between the companies.
To accommodate the increase in ridesharing services and advances in technology, State laws protecting passengers will be playing catch-up. The recent introduction of self-driving vehicles is already presenting challenges for the legal system and insurance industry.
Unparalleled Support and Expertise for Rideshare Accident Victims
Because of the changing landscape of the laws regulating the rideshare industry, auto accidents involving companies like Uber and Lyft can be complicated and confusing. At Premier Law Group, we are skilled at helping rideshare accident victims successfully navigate the complexities of the claim process, particularly when challenges with insurance companies arise. We can provide expert advice, help advocate for your rights, and seek the maximum possible recovery that you deserve for your accident claim.
We care for our clients as if they were friends or family – you are never just a number! Whether it’s answering your questions, filling out paperwork, or representing you in court, our goal is to provide you the absolute best service with caring and compassion. Contact Premier Law Group at 206.285.1743 for help with your case.