Uber or Lyft Ridesharing Accidents & Personal Injuries
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have been operating in Ontario for a few years now. They’re an exciting alternative to taking a cab and a nice way for many people to make some extra cash in their free time. But, as far as insurance is concerned, they can complicate matters in the event of an accident.
To help you untangle this relatively thorny issue, we have put together this simple guide to who pays what when one of these vehicles gets into an accident. We’ll begin with a basic snapshot of how insurance covers you in the event of a typical accident, and then expand to look at how ridesharing changes things for both drivers and passengers as well as the impact for drivers of other vehicles.
Figuring out who to file an accident insurance claim with when you’re injured in an accident involving a ridesharing vehicle can be confusing. Who’s liable? This article should help clear up the most common questions people have on the subject.
The basics – Auto Insurance in Ontario
Before we can understand how ridesharing impacts insurance coverage, let’s review the basics. In Ontario, we use a no-fault insurance model. This doesn’t mean that fault isn’t assigned in accidents – trust us, it is. What it means is that everyone who carries auto insurance is entitled to certain coverages regardless of how fault is assigned in an accident.
Because of this, you can apply directly to your insurer if you’ve been injured in an accident and need to claim for certain medical expenses. The idea is to simplify and speed up the claims process while reducing the need to sue third parties for less severe injuries.
Mandatory Insurance Coverages
By law, every insurance policy must provide certain mandatory coverages. For the purposes of this discussion, the most important coverages are statutory accident benefits and third-party liability.
Statutory accident benefits cover you and the occupants of your vehicle for injuries sustained in an accident and cover things like:
- supplementary medical benefits
- rehabilitation and attendant care benefits
- caregiver benefits
- non-earner benefits
- income replacement benefits
These are the no-fault coverages you go directly to your own insurer for.
Third-party liability covers injury and property damage to another person. If you’re injured by an at-fault driver and the related expenses will exceed your statutory accident benefits coverage, you can sue the other driver. Their settlement will be covered by their third-party liability insurance.
On the other hand, if you’re at fault for the accident, the injured party might come after you for liability. And if the fault is shared, the degree to which a third party is at fault will limit the amount of damages that can be awarded.
Ridesharing in Ontario – A Quick Overview
Much to the traditional taxi industry’s chagrin, it looks like ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are going to be around for a while. According to one news source, there were 67,000 registered rideshare drivers in Ontario in 2018, and that number keeps growing.
Ridesharing allows users to request rides from drivers connected through mobile apps. The driver drives their own vehicle, picks up the passenger, and drives them wherever they need to go for a fee.
Although some ridesharing companies were initially hesitant to share the details of their insurance coverage at first, that has since all been straightened out. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario maintains a website now detailing all there is to know about who insures vehicles being used for ridesharing.
It’s a good idea to only use ridesharing services listed on this page. If not, you could be riding at your own risk.
Insurance for Uber & Lyft Drivers
If you drive for a ridesharing company, the company’s insurance only covers you while you’re driving for them. You are only considered to be driving for a company when you are logged into their app. The moment you drop off your last ride and log off the app, you are back to your personal coverage.
If you get into an accident, you can only claim statutory accident benefits from the policy in force at the time of the accident. So, if you’re logged in to the ridesharing app, it’s the ridesharing company’s policy that covers you. If not, you would file a claim with your personal insurer.
In either case, if you suffered a serious injury and need to make a liability claim against an at-fault driver, you would file a liability claim with that driver’s insurance company.
Secondary Considerations for Uber & Lyft Drivers
You need to inform your personal insurance company if you’re going to use your vehicle for ridesharing. Sometimes, your insurer might even be able to provide additional coverage over and above the ridesharing company’s insurance plan. There may, however, be a fee involved for this.
You should note that your insurer is not obligated to let you use your vehicle for ridesharing. Be prepared for them to attempt to cancel or refuse to renew your policy.
Also, if you lease or rent your vehicle, chances are you may be unable to participate in ridesharing as per the terms of your agreement.
Finally, some drivers drive for more than one ridesharing company at the same time. This tempts fate by involving more than one insurance company in a claim, something which has yet been tested in the courts. Uber is insured through Intact, while Lyft is underwritten by Aviva. Should you be logged in as a driver for both companies at the time of your accident, it might take a while to sort out who will pay what (if anything).
Insurance for Rideshare Passengers
If you’re injured as a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle, your claims process will be determined by the following factors:
- whether you have your own vehicle insurance (or are covered under another policy)
- whether a third party is at fault
If you have your own insurance, they’ll be the ones to call to cover statutory accident benefits claims. If you don’t, you can claim those coverages through the ridesharing company’s insurance.
If your injuries are serious and you require more than what your statutory accident benefits will cover, you have the option of suing the at-fault party. Since you weren’t driving, the rules of fault determination will not apply to you. If fault is split between the ridesharing driver and a third party, you would seek compensation from both insurance companies.
If the ridesharing driver is at fault, don’t worry. The third-party driver can’t come after you for liability.
Insurance for Third Parties
If you’re driving a vehicle that gets involved in an accident with a ridesharing vehicle, the claims process is relatively simple.
If you require coverage for medical expenses, go to your insurance company and apply for statutory accident benefits. If your injuries are more serious and the ridesharing driver is at fault, you can claim third-party liability from the ridesharing driver’s insurance – whichever one is covering them at the time of the accident.
Keep in mind that it all depends on whether the driver was logged in to the ridesharing app when the accident happens (see above). If they were driving for the ridesharing company at the time, then the company’s policy will cover your liability claim. If the driver is logged out, then their personal auto insurance will cover you.
Personal Injury Process – Ride Sharing Accidents
Making a personal injury claim is usually a confusing process. And adding ridesharing into the mix muddies the waters that much more. But going through the steps outlined above should give you a better understanding of who’s responsible for covering damages arising from your accident.
It’s always a good idea to talk to a qualified personal injury lawyer if you have any questions about such a serious, complicated matter. A personal injury lawyer can help you make sure you get the compensation you deserve by getting your claims filed with the right parties in a timely manner.
Have you been Injured by an Uber or Lyft driver?
Use the form below to request a free, no-obligation consultation with Mackesy Smye if you’ve been hurt in an accident with a ridesharing vehicle. Whether you were driving the vehicle, a passenger in the vehicle, or a third party involved in the accident, we’ll help you figure out who’s responsible for your losses and help you recover the compensation you deserve.