With the prevalence of ride sharing and privately operated car services, discussions regarding the rights and liabilities of those injured by or as passengers in these vehicles have begun to make headlines. Although taxi cabs have been around for decades, the increased availability of private driving services has resulted in many legal questions. A recent national newspaper article reported on these concerns from the perspective of the drivers.
Generally, these private car services are app-based and driven by individuals not employed by any company. These drivers operate their own vehicles and are supposed to be insured. At this point, these drivers are not considered “commercial drivers,” and as a result their insurance policies do not address the complicated issues that may arise when they injure someone in a car accident.
In most cases, when a passenger is injured in a car accident, there are several ways they may try to recover damages for the injuries they suffered. For example, an accident victim may bring a negligence lawsuit in civil court, or they may try to collect from the driver’s insurance company or even their own insurance company. In New Mexico, if the parties have low coverage limits, the injured party may be able to collect enough by bringing claims against both their own and the other party’s insurance company.
However, when the other party is uninsured, the injured party may need to try to recover under their own policy. It is important to note that in attempting to do this, recovery may be severely limited if the other culpable driver can prove that the injured party was somehow at fault. If both parties are underinsured or not insured at all, the injured party will likely want to bring a claim in civil court to recoup damages.
Distinction between Ride Sharing and Pleasure Driving, and Effect on Insurance Coverage
The two major ride sharing services are Uber and Lyft. These companies have some amount of insurance coverage in the event of an accident. The companies’ coverage depends on which stage of the ride the passenger is in when the accident occurs. The stages can be broken into three parts. The first part is when the app is turned on, the second stages begins when the passenger and driver are matched, and the last stage is when the passenger is in the car and is in the process of being transported.
The companies state that the passenger and driver will be covered during stages two and three of the process, but not during stage one. This means that if you are injured by one of these drivers when they are in the process of stage one, the company’s insurance policy will not likely protect them. This will result in the injured party being forced to bring a claim against the driver’s personal insurance or commencing a lawsuit in civil court.
Recently, some large insurance companies have been offering ride share coverage to fill in for the time the driver is uninsured. However, there is no guarantee that these private drivers will buy into that coverage.
Have You Been Injured by a Ride-Sharing Driver in New Mexico?
New Mexico has a high rate of uninsured and underinsured drivers, and this makes things very complicated for injured parties. If you or a loved one has been injured in a situation like this or another type of car accident, it is highly advised that you contact a car accident attorney at the Fine Law Firm to discuss your case. The new shift in ride sharing has resulted in many complex legal issues, and the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm can help you navigate this area and zealously advocate for you. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. Contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm today at 800-640-6590 to schedule your free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Court Holds City Employee Not Entitled to Immunity in Premises Liability Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, April 7, 2016.
State Court Holds Recreational Immunity Does Not Apply to Hot-Air Balloon Company Providing Free Rides on Another’s Property, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 4, 2016.