Driving for Lyft or Uber is a flexible way for people to make some extra money on the side. However, it can be a risky proposition for anyone who does not take every precaution to protect themselves. Drivers and passengers quickly learn how vulnerable they can be after an accident. The only option may be to take matters into your own hands and contact a car accident attorney to recover compensation.
If you try to rely on the car insurance companies to compensate you after an accident, you may be left with the car insurance company's version of what your injuries are worth. The settlement offer may be too low to even begin to cover your losses. Before you just accept their offer, talk to your Denver accident lawyer to understand your options. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact an experienced Colorado rideshare accident attorney for help.
Lakewood Car Accident
Drew Wajnert is a Lyft driver who treats the job as more than a side hustle. Since signing up in January 2020, driving for Lyft is a full-time job, where he regularly drives between 40 and 70 hours per week. In 2020, Wajnert completed more than 4,000 rides. Driving passengers around was not a new endeavor, after driving taxi cabs for more than 10 years. However, the dedicated driver found out the hard way that he was on his own after an accident.
In March, while waiting for his next Lyft ride in Lakewood, Wajnert was rear-ended by a suspected drunk driver at about 85-miles-per-hour. His vehicle spun into a concrete divider and continued spinning until coming to a stop on the side of the road. Emergency services rushed the driver to the hospital where he underwent emergency neck surgery. He remained in a spinal cord injury rehab center for weeks. After the accident, he may be unable to ever walk again.
When Lyft's Accident Insurance Applies
The severe injury accident has highlighted some of the problems with relying on rideshare companies to insure their drivers. There are 3 different insurance coverages that apply to rideshare drivers, based on their status. No coverage when the driver is not on the app, limited coverage if the driver is available and waiting to accept a ride, and partial coverage when the driver has a passenger in the vehicle.
The rideshare companies may also change their coverage without explicit communication to drivers. Last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lyft dropped their uninsured motorist/under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage in most states, including Colorado. When insurance coverage is not required, Lyft has no interest in protecting drivers or passengers where there was no legal obligation. According to Wajnert, he never knew that Lyft had dropped the UM/UIM coverage and would have purchased additional coverage if he had known.
“I can't understand why Lyft would carry insurance for people that we injure, but not insurance for its drivers when a reckless drunk driver hurts us,” Wajernt said in an interview with Business Insider. Unfortunately, Wajnert's problem is not unique. Drivers who fulfill the insurance requirements to drive for the app-based ride-hailing services think that they are covered because they followed the rules. After an accident, they find out they are on their own.
When the app is on and the driver is waiting for a ride request, Lyft provides 3rd-party liability only after your personal insurance applies. Third-party liability means that you are not covered for injuries to yourself but only protected for claims by others injured in the accident. Unfortunately, like most drivers, insurance restrictions and terms of art are not clear and it is only after an accident that the gaps in coverage are pointed out.