Just a few short years ago, ride-share services did not exist. It was less than a decade ago that the name “Uber” entered common usage, and the ride-share service became common in cities nationwide within a couple years. In the last six or seven years, ride-share services have proliferated, with Uber joined by Lyft, Sidecar, and who knows how many other services, some of them national, some regional, some serving only a few areas. No matter which service you use – and one in five Americans have used a ride-share service – the experience is largely the same. You use an app on your smartphone to ask for a ride, the car arrives quickly and gives you a ride to your destination, generally for less – often much less – than a traditional taxi cab would cost. Plus you can give the driver a bad rating if the service is not fast and courteous, an option simply not available with a taxi. What’s not to like?
Ride-Share Vehicles Get in Accidents, Too
The problem, of course, is that ride-shares, like the services offered by Uber and Lyft in Marietta and the surrounding area, are vehicles just like any others on the road. They can and do get into accidents. Ride-share drivers do not have special training, and no one really knows whether ride-share drivers get into accidents more or less frequently than the average driver on the road. A few years ago, a Chicago newspaper tried to find out, and learned instead that no government entity keeps statistics on ride-share accidents, and no ride-share service makes its accident statistics public. It is fair to assume, though, that ride-share drivers get into accidents at the same rate as pretty much every other driver on the road. So who pays if you get injured in a traffic accident while riding in an Uber, Lyft, or other rides-share service vehicle?
The two ride-share services operating in Marietta, Uber and Lyft, both cover their drivers. Drivers for those services have company-paid liability insurance for accidents that happen while their ride-share app is active and the driver has a passenger. Both companies’ policies cover driver liability up to $1 million, and both companies offer another $1 million in coverage for accidents involving uninsured motorists.
Even with such relatively generous liability coverage for ride-share drivers, though, many injuries sustained in traffic accidents can make it plain that $1 million just is not what it used to be. There are many relatively common traffic accident injuries that could make that kind of coverage seem inadequate, including:
- Brain and head injuries are fairly common in traffic accidents, with traffic accidents being the third-leading cause of such injuries. Traumatic brain injuries – TBI – can call for long-term care and can result in permanent disabilities, exacerbating the need for lengthy treatment.
- Spinal cord injuries and other neck and back injuries also are a major risk in traffic accidents. These, too, can lead to lifelong disabilities, including paralysis.
- Other serious injuries, including broken bones, punctured lungs, or major internal injuries also frequently result from traffic accidents. These can be life-threatening, requiring numerous multiple surgeries, extended hospital stays, significant time away from work, and long-term treatment and physical therapy. The cost for such treatment can be substantial.
The driver’s own liability coverage also could come into play – as could your liability coverage, as well – the total still might be insufficient.