Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are now a popular transportation option in cities all around the world. But if you are injured in a collision while you’re an Uber or Lyft passenger, what happens? How does rideshare insurance work? Will you be compensated if you’re severely injured? Before you take another ride with Uber or Lyft, here’s what you should know.

Rideshare companies provide a number of benefits and amenities. They’re smart, fast, discreet, and usually less expensive than a taxi. The rideshare industry is still new – as well as overwhelmingly popular – so many rideshare passengers probably have not considered the risk, liability, and insurance concerns that may arise when passengers are transported commercially.

HOW DOES INSURANCE COVERAGE WORK FOR RIDESHARE SERVICES?

Exactly how does insurance coverage work for Uber and Lyft? Even if you don’t use rideshare services, you need to know, because you could be injured in a collision with a rideshare vehicle. In 2013, 6-year-old Sofia Liu was struck and killed by an Uber driver while walking with her family in San Francisco.

The family claimed that the driver was distracted by the Uber app and was looking for a passenger when the tragedy occurred. Uber claimed that because the driver was not carrying a passenger, he was not working for the company at the time. Nevertheless, Uber settled the family’s wrongful death lawsuit in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.

WHAT ARE THE LIMITS OF LYFT’S AND UBER’S INSURANCE COVERAGE?

Insurance coverage for Uber and Lyft vehicles hinges on whether or not the driver is waiting for a passenger, carrying a passenger, or off duty. When a passenger is in the vehicle, Uber and Lyft cover the driver and passenger – and third parties as well – with a one-million dollar liability policy and a one-million dollar uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.

After Sofia Liu’s death, Uber extended that coverage to third-party injury victims if an accident happens while a driver is waiting or looking for a passenger. However, consumers should know that while they are technically “covered” as rideshare passengers or as third parties, the insurance companies providing that coverage may seek to limit their liability and to pay minimal compensation to injury victims.

Furthermore, if your injuries as a passenger are catastrophic or disabling, and your damages total more than one million dollars – the Uber and Lyft coverage limit – acquiring the compensation you will need may be a considerable challenge, and you will very likely need to have a personal injury attorney advocating on your behalf.

In southern California, if you are injured in traffic while you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, or if you are injured by a driver working for Lyft, Uber, or another rideshare service, seek the sound legal advice of an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney, and do it as soon as possible after you’ve been examined for any injuries sustained in the accident.

HOW ARE TRANSPORTATION COMPANIES OBLIGATED TO PASSENGERS?

Rideshare services as well as limousine, bus, and taxicab companies have a legal obligation that the law calls a “duty of care” to passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. If you sustain an injury or lose a family member due to a transportation company’s negligence, you are entitled by California law to full compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and all other injury-related damages.

Of course, being legally entitled to compensation is something you may have to prove. If a rideshare service’s insurance company refuses to offer you adequate compensation, an Orange County personal injury attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf and will fight aggressively for the compensation you need as an injury victim – and for the justice you deserve.

IF A TRAFFIC CRASH HAPPENS, WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO DO?

Anyone who is injured in a traffic crash as a rideshare passenger should try to take the same steps he or she would take after any other vehicle collision. Call for medical help first, then summon the police. Get all of the information from both drivers that you can – especially names, personal contact details, and insurance company contact information.

Take photos of the accident scene, the vehicle damages, and to the extent that’s possible, your own injuries. If there were witnesses to the crash, get their names and phone numbers if you can. You may need their statements or testimony, especially if your injuries are extensive. No attorney will be at the accident scene to help, so you must try to remember these steps.

And even if you don’t seem to be injured, have a checkup anyway after any traffic accident, and do it within a day. A latent or undetected injury could develop quickly – or over time – into a serious medical situation. If you require compensation as the result of a traffic accident, a checkup will provide some of the medical documentation you’ll need.

Do not give a recorded or written statement to a rideshare service’s insurance company, don’t admit to or confess anything, and don’t sign any insurance paperwork without first consulting an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney. Don’t settle your insurance claim too hastily, either.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH ACCEPTING A QUICK SETTLEMENT?

Instead, get some good advice from your healthcare provider and your personal injury attorney. Make certain that you understand the full extent of your injuries, and make sure that all of your medical expenses – including projected future costs – are included in your injury claim and settlement, because accepting a settlement means losing your right to any further compensation or legal action.

Finally, if you are injured in any traffic collision in California, it is imperative to act at once. California’s statute of limitations gives an injury victim two years from the date of the injury or injuries to file a personal injury lawsuit, although if the injury is latent and is not discovered right away, the time limit becomes one year from the date that the injury is discovered.

Of course, you don’t want to wait two years after you’ve been injured and then scramble to bring a legal action at the last moment. Don’t even wait two weeks – a good personal injury attorney will need some time to consider the evidence and to determine the best legal strategy for moving forward on your behalf.

If you are injured by a rideshare driver or by any negligent driver in southern California, get the legal help you to obtain the compensation and justice you deserve. If you’ve been injured by negligence, compensation is your right, and nothing is more important than your health and your future. Do what it takes to protect yourself.

By: Chris Purcell

Attorney Chris Purcell is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law. He exclusively represents the victims of personal injury and wrongful death. Chris was part of the team that won California’s largest-ever wrongful death judgment – a $150 million verdict for a family devastated by a tragic trucking accident. In 2011, he received the Top Gun Award given by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association.