Who is responsible in a Philadelphia Uber accident?

Ride-share companies, such as Uber and Lyft, have exploded in popularity over the past decade. For many, Uber offers a convenient way to get around Philadelphia in that users can immediately hail a ride from their smart phone and do not need to carry cash. However, ride-share companies also raise significant questions, especially regarding the liability of the company and its drivers in the event of a Philadelphia Uber accident.

When Uber became popular, it threw a wrench in the state’s existing insurance system. This left lawmakers with the job of filling the gaps in coverage left by the ride-share companies and the insurance industry. Pennsylvania requires all drivers maintain car insurance on their vehicles. Specifically, a motorist must purchase at least the following amount of coverage:

  • Bodily injury liability: $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability: $5,000
  • Medical benefits: $5,000

However, insurance policies generally exclude overage when the insured driver is transporting a person for a fee. Thus, in most situations, an Uber driver’s insurance company will not provide coverage, unless they obtain a ride-share insurance policy. Under Pennsylvania law, all Uber drivers must buy the appropriate insurance coverage. Even then, the real determination of what coverage applies, as well as the extent of any coverage, comes down to when in the ride-share process an accident occurs.

For example, Uber maintains a $1 million insurance policy that kicks in as soon as a driver is matched with a passenger. Thus, if an accident occurs while the driver is on their way to pick up the passenger, or once the passenger is in the car, Uber’s policy will likely provide coverage. Of course, only a portion of an Uber driver’s time is spent transporting passengers.

Frequently, Uber drivers must wait for a ride to come in. During this time, the driver may be navigating to a different part of the city where they may be more likely to pick up a fare. If an accident occurs while a driver is “deadheading,” or driving around looking for a fare, Uber’s insurance policy will cover up to $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident.

Finally, if an Uber driver is not currently accepting ride requests or their Uber app is off, the company’s insurance policy is not implicated. Thus, if someone is injured in a car accident with a ride-share driver who was not accepting rides, they would not be able to look for Uber for compensation. Pennsylvania lawmakers have attempted to fill this gap by passing a law that requires all motorists to inform their insurance company if they are working for a Transportation network Company (TNC). Once, the insurance company is informed that the driver is transporting people for a fee, it will then ensure that the driver is sold an appropriate policy that provide coverage where Uber’s insurance policy does not.

The question of who is liable in a Philadelphia Uber accident can be a complex one, however, in most cases an accident victim will be able to pursue a claim from at least one insurance policy. Anyone who has been injured in a Philadelphia Uber accident should reach out to a dedicated personal injury law firm to discuss their case and available options.

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