In Parts 1and 2, I talked about the law and then discussed how it would affect passengers, respectively. Now, I will try to explain how it would affect the other driver that was in a collision with an Uber or Lyft driver. This presumes that the other driver was not at-fault for the accident. If so, there may be issues of comparative negligence which is a topic of another post. For now, let’s just keep it narrowly tailored as much as possible. AB 2293 states that if the Uber or Lyft driver is logged on to the app, then generally, the driver’s personal auto insurance will not apply. But what insurance will apply? Well that depends on the three stages I previously talked about. Click here for a quick review.
Stage One – If the Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident while in Stage One, then the minimum coverage provided by Uber or Lyft must be $50,000.00 per person, $100,000.00 per accident, and $30,000.00 property damage. This provides more than the minimum personal automobile liability insurance coverage of $15,000.00 per person, $30,000.00 per accident, and $5,000.00 property damage. This is good but is it good enough? Probably not. You probably have more coverage this! Heck, even the legislatures didn’t think so because they added in a provision requiring that Uber or Lyft must carry $200,000.00 in excess liability coverage per occurrence. That should tell you everything.
Stage Two and Three – If the Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident while in these stages, the minimum liability insurance coverage must be $1,000,000.00 for death, personal injury, AND property damage. The wording here is very important. The legislature intended to mandate that the minimum coverage required is $1,000,000.00 total! Not per person, not per death, and not just for property damage. It clearly states that $1,000,000.00 is the total minimum that is required. The consequences of this could be very devastating for seriously injured victims. Imagine for a second, the Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident. In the other vehicle, there are 4 people including the driver. In the Uber or Lyft vehicle there are three passengers. That is 7 total potential claimants to the $1,000,000.00 liability policy. In most cases, it should be enough! But if you look at the study provided by The U.S. Department of Transportation in 2015, there were 35,092 deaths related to auto accidents! You might have thought fatal car accident were rare, but it is not.
Now the above may sound all great but let’s talk practically for a minute. If you get hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, how will you know that he or she was working as an Uber or Lyft driver? How do you know if his or her app was on at the time of the accident? AB 2293 requires that an Uber or Lyft driver carry proof of the Uber or Lyft insurance and must present it to the other party or police officer upon request. That sounds great, right? Wrong. I have spoken to several Uber driver’s. They don’t even know about this. They didn’t even know that Uber or Lyft must give them proof of insurance coverage by the company and provide it when an accident occurs. Some figured that their own insurance must provide coverage!
So, because the Uber or Lyft driver doesn’t know the law, he or she may unknowingly report accidents to his or her own personal automobile insurance and leave out the fact they were working at the time. This is dangerous considering California’s minimum auto insurance requirement. So, what now? It’s up to you to be vigilant. Pay attention. Look for the Uber or Lyft decal. Ask if the driver is an Uber or Lyft driver. If so, was his or her app turned on? What about the passengers, are they Uber or Lyft passengers? As a litigation attorney, I can definitely find this out after a lawsuit is filed. However, before a lawsuit is filed, I have no authority to talk to these drivers. The only person to do so is you – the other driver! Do it at the scene of the accident. Ask the police officer to ask him or her. The problem is that if you don’t ask, you will never know. Consequently, I might never know as well. Protect yourself. It doesn’t hurt to ask. It could mean the difference between the minimum personal auto liability coverage of $15,000,00.00 per person, $30,000.00 per accident, and $5,000.00 property damage or either Stage One or Stage Two/Three liability coverage above.