Table of Contents
- Understanding Georgia Law Surrounding Lyft & Uber Accidents
- Rideshare Insurance Coverage Doesn’t Guarantee Payment
- Determining the Value of an Uber or Lyft Accident Claim
- Georgia’s Statute Of Limitations
Understanding Georgia Law Surrounding Lyft & Uber Accidents
Atlanta Uber accidents have been on the rise since 2015 when Georgia lawmakers granted the rideshare companies approval to operate statewide.
Although Georgia law makes it clear transportation network companies (TNC’s) like Uber and Lyft must carry auto insurance far in excess of what’s required of non-commercial drivers, an Atlanta Rideshare accident attorney can explain that doesn’t necessarily mean payouts for injuries come easily.
Minimum Insurance Coverage Carried by Rideshare Companies
Compared to Georgia’s non-commercial auto insurance minimums (noted by Georgia Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner as $25,000 a person/ $50,000 per crash), Uber in Georgia maintains the following minimum rates for auto insurance:
- $100,000 for injuries/wrongful death of all persons; maximum $50,000 per person; $50,000 for property damage; (Applies for liability of a driver available on the app, but not responding to a ride request or transporting a customer);
- $1 million in coverage for injuries/wrongful death of all persons; maximum $1 million uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage; (Applies for liability of a driver responding to ride request or transporting a customer).
Uber & Lyft Insurance Coverage Doesn’t Guarantee Payment
In spite of its higher levels of coverage, neither Lyft, Uber nor its auto insurers are keen to pay claims if they can avoid it. Moreover, these huge corporations have the resources to mount a formidable legal dispute.
Thankfully, the civil justice system is designed to allow an even playing field between you and large companies. The mechanism here is contingency fee arrangement in injury and wrongful death cases. That means you pay your Atlanta Uber accident attorney no attorney fees up front – or at all unless you win a settlement or verdict. A portion of your damage award would be used to pay attorney’s fees.
Further, per O.C.G.A. § 9-11-68, if Uber or its insurer rejects a pretrial settlement offer from an injured plaintiff, and plaintiff in turn obtains a final judgment greater than 125 percent of that settlement offer, plaintiff is entitled to have reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation expenses paid by the defendant.
Determining the Value of an Uber or Lyft Accident Claim
Your damages in an Uber accident are going to be determined the same as any other – with the amount depending on who was at-fault (responsible to pay) and the extent of your injuries. The only difference (and it’s a big one) is that the Uber auto insurance policy is actually large enough in many cases to cover a crash victim’s total damages. In other cases, you may have $500,000 in damages, but barring special circumstances, you may not recover that if the combined total of available insurance coverage is less.
Passenger of an at-fault Uber driver:
If the Uber driver was at-fault, you’d be entitled to collect from the $1 million policy. If the other driver was at-fault, you would first collect from that driver’s bodily injury liability policy. If that is inadequate or the other driver wasn’t insured, you could file a claim for UM/UIM coverage from the Uber driver’s insurer. (Unless your own UIM carrier had coverage in excess of $1 million, you’re unlikely to obtain additional compensation there.)
Bicyclist or Pedestrian Struck by at-fault Uber driver:
Same sort of scenario as above – if a bicyclist or pedestrian is injured by a rideshare driver, unless the driver wasn’t actively responding to a call for service or transporting a passenger, in which case you’d entitled to the substantially lower $100,000 limit – and may want to consider additional claims with your own UIM carrier.
Driver in another vehicle struck by an Uber driver:
If the at-fault Uber driver was on the way to a customer or transporting one, you could collect up to $1 million. If the driver was active in the app but not responding to a call, the $100,000 limit would apply. If it’s the latter and it’s not enough to cover your total damages, you may pursue additional UM/UIM coverage from your own carrier if that policy is in excess of $100,000.
Keep in mind: Your damage award could be proportionately reduced if the court finds comparative negligence (you were partly at-fault), per O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33, but you may still be entitled to collect partial damages as long as you aren’t more than 49 percent responsible.
Passenger in another vehicle struck by an Uber driver:
Your compensation options would likely be similar to that of the person driving you – unless that driver shared some percentage of fault. In that case, you may have claims against both the Uber driver and your driver.
Unfortunately, because of tort reform passed in Georgia in 2005, courts no longer allow imposition of joint liability (allowing any of the defendants to be held responsible for the entire damage award of injuries they jointly caused with another defendant who is unable to pay their share). Here, each defendant is only liable for their own proportionate damages.
Consumers comparing these coverage requirements to those of Georgia taxi cabs, may well be better covered in an Uber accident compared to one in a taxi. (It’s tough to say whether this has played a role in declining demand for taxis, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported rideshares like Uber and Lyft picked up twice as many customers as taxi cabs at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport since the tech company services were approved for operation there in January 2017.)
Georgia’s Statute of Limitations
Keep in mind you have two years per Georgia Code Ann. Section 9-33-3 in which to file your car accident injury claim. However, Atlanta injury lawyers advise seeking legal help far in advance of the expiration of the statute of limitations – especially when dealing with a sizable company like Uber.
The foregoing answers are not legal advice and are merely a general overview. You are advised to consult a lawyer to address your specific situation regarding your situation. For more information or to inquire about a free consultation, contact Stephen D. Apolinsky, an experienced Atlanta Uber accident attorney, at Apolinsky & Associates at (404) 377-9191 or email him at email@example.com.