Ridesharing has been marketed as a convenient, cost-effective alternative to traditional taxi services. Although most Uber and Lyft drivers make passenger safety a priority, accidents still happen with alarming regularity. While many of these collisions result in little more than property damage, some passengers sustain serious and even life-changing injuries.
Recent changes to Rhode Island law have made it easier to file a claim for compensation in the aftermath of a rideshare accident. However, companies such as Uber and Lyft are often reluctant to admit responsibility for over-the-road accidents and create red tape for passengers to prove liability.
Determining Liability After a RI Rideshare Accident
Rhode Island is an “at-fault” state, which means in most automobile accidents, the at-fault motorist and their insurance company are liable for any damages resulting from the collision. Usually, accident victims also have the option of pursuing a claim against the other driver’s employer, if the crash happened when the at-fault motorist was working.
However, Uber and Lyft have spent years arguing that they are technology companies that simply offer platforms to connect independent rideshare contractors with prospective passengers. Under Rhode Island law, rideshare operators are considered “transportation network companies” rather than “transportation companies.” So, while Uber and Lyft are required to perform background checks on their drivers and ensure that contractors have adequate insurance coverage, they are not necessarily liable for most accidents involving driver misconduct or negligence.
Rideshare Insurance Requirements
In general, rideshare drivers have the same insurance requirements as private motorists. They are required to have:
- Personal liability insurance with a minimum coverage of $25,000 for personal injury per person
- Personal liability insurance with a minimum coverage of $50,000 for personal injury per accident
- Personal liability insurance with a minimum coverage of $25,000 for property damage
Additional Coverages Required by Rideshare Operators
- If the driver is logged into a rideshare application but not actively transporting a passenger, they must have liability insurance that covers $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 per accident.
- If the driver is logged into a rideshare application and actively transporting a passenger, the vehicle must be covered by a liability policy that covers a total of $1,500,000, payable for bodily injury, wrongful death, and property damage.
What to Do After a Rhode Island Rideshare Crash
If you have been injured in a Rhode Island rideshare accident, you could bolster your chances of making a successful legal recovery by taking some important steps:
Rhode Island law requires motorists to notify law enforcement of any accident resulting in bodily injury, death, or significant vehicular damage. Although rideshare drivers might be reluctant to call the police after a car crash—especially if they were responsible for the collision—a law enforcement investigation could provide evidence for a personal injury claim. Even if the responding officers cannot determine who caused the crash, their report could still be referenced or used as evidence in insurance negotiations.
Seeking Immediate Medical Attention
You should always seek immediate medical attention after any serious car accident, even if you do not believe that your injuries warrant a medical response. Seeing a doctor generates a paper trail, which helps show the insurance company that you have legitimate concerns about your physical well-being and are not simply trying to profit from the accident.
If you do not need to go to the emergency room, try to collect evidence from the crash site. You could take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, document any visible injuries, and photograph nearby road markers, traffic signals, and signs.
Speaking to Eyewitnesses
If you believe that somebody else may have witnessed your rideshare accident, ask them for their full name, phone number, and other contact information—their testimony could prove critical in court.
Contacting an Experienced Rideshare Accident Attorney
You likely stand your best chance at making a full legal recovery when you have an experienced Rhode Island rideshare accident attorney advocating your case. A personal injury lawyer can help you investigate the causes of your accident, identify potential defendants, and construct a compelling, evidence-based claim for compensation.
Since Rhode Island does not currently cap the damages available in most personal injury claims, you could receive as much compensation as you need to begin the difficult task of moving past a serious accident.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?
If you've been hurt in a car accident, you need to speak to an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help accident victims in Providence, Warwick, and all areas of Rhode Island.