It’s Saturday, just before midnight. Surge prices are booming. This will be a huge night if you can just catch a damn fare.
Ping! You connect with a passenger a few blocks away. Hopefully, he’s ready to go. Hopefully, he won’t dictate his own “fastest route.” Hopefully, he’s not wasted.
“Hi, there,” you say as he crouches into the car. “You want a water or anything before we get going?” The pax declines. He’s not in the mood to chat so you just start driving.
Four minutes and seven blocks later, you’re out of the bar district and on the main road. “This red light seems to be taking forever,” you say under your breath. Just then, BOOM! A heavy impact jolts you forward. You fly towards the windshield before the seatbelt grabs your body and slams it back into the seat. You check yourself for aches, blood and bruises. You’re shaken but fine.
A few moments pass before you remember you’ve got a passenger in the back. “Are you okay,” you frantically ask. The passenger’s in his seat, clearly confused. A few more seconds go by. He snaps into it, holds his neck and screams, “Look what you did! You’re going to pay for this!”
So, the question becomes, what’s your personal liability here? Is there really any chance this guy can go after your assets? The answer is…not really.
You’re clearly not at fault for this crash. You were stopped at a red light when another driver rear-ended you. As such, the at-fault driver’s insurance is “primary.” That means his insurance company will have to pay first for any claims made in relation to the crash (up to the policy limits). Your insurance is “secondary.” It comes into play only if the injured passenger’s damages (medical bills, pain and suffering, etc.) exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits.
Here, you’ve accepted a fare and have a passenger in your car. That means you’re in “period three” and covered by Uber/Lyft’s insurance. Therefore, even if the at-fault driver has little (or no) coverage, the rideshare company’s policy will take over. With coverage up to $1,000,000, there is plenty of insurance for almost any scenario. Your personal assets would not be at risk, regardless of the passenger’s threat.
Let’s switch up the facts. Now, you caused the crash and rear-ended another driver. Your passenger is hurt and threatens to sue.
In actuality, not much changes. Because you are the at-fault driver, your insurance is “primary.” You’re still in period three, meaning Uber/Lyft’s company takes over. That insurance will cover damages up to its limits (again, $1M). As such, there’s plenty of coverage and you need not worry about your assets in most scenarios.
You should be aware that you might be named as a defendant if the injured passenger files a lawsuit. That does not necessarily mean your personal assets are at risk. The insurance company, while not a party to the lawsuit, still has an obligation to defend you and protect your interests. Just make sure to cooperate with the investigation and any legal proceedings. You don’t want to give the insurance company any reason to play hard ball.
The bottom line: When you’re cruising with a passenger, there is plenty of insurance to protect your personal assets. After a crash, stay calm, call the police to investigate and report the incident to Uber/Lyft.