I have often said that the internet has done more to divide and enrage us as a society than most people probably anticipated when Al Gore created it. The power of social media can be great when we get constant feeds of kittens playing with giant balls of twine, but usually it’s just people screaming about guns, Trump, the police and how cruise ships are filled with dangerous viruses. Honestly can anyone tell me that we are truly better off with the internet than we were before it? We are a bunch of whining, celebrity-obsessed, political junkies who use this little handheld device to try to convert those who have opinions different than our own, and we wield this power with extreme prejudice. BUT, and this is a big BUT, there are a few AWESOME things that have emerged from the internet cesspool. In my opinion the very best thing the internet and our cell phones have given us are ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. These apps have allowed so many people access to fast, reliable, cheap transportation that didn’t previously exist in cities like Denver, Des Moines or Detroit. Sure, if you live in Manhattan or Chicago there are taxis everywhere (if they are willing to pick you up), but in most cities the wait for a taxi can be too long and the prices too arbitrary. Uber/Lyft have an ingenious product that allows us to quickly get a ride, allows us to know who the driver is before the car arrives (and how other passengers have rated the driver), and even lets us know the price before we order the ride. Plus it allows people who need full or part-time work an opportunity to make some money on a schedule that works for them. Unlike taxi drivers, Uber/Lyft drivers know who they are picking up and they can decide based on the passenger rating if they even want to pick them up. While it is not a perfect system, it has significantly reduced the amount of DUI’s we have seen in our office as many people would prefer an easy, cheap ride compared to an expensive, life-changing DUI. This is technology working for us in a self-contained system that makes sense and is easy to use and understand. Hooray Uber/Lyft!
However the influx of paid drivers on the roads has not been without the drawbacks. While our law firm has seen a decrease in DUIs (That’s a Good Thing!) we have seen an increase in automobile accidents that occur where our clients are either passengers in an Uber/Lyft, have been hit by an Uber/Lyft driver, or are Uber/Lyft drivers themselves and have suffered injuries. So, the question we are often asked is: “Can I file a claim against Uber/Lyft for these injuries?” And the answer is absolutely YES. In fact Uber/Lyft acts just like any other business. These are massive companies with significant liability insurance policies in case you have suffered a bad injury (as a passenger or while driving your own car). In addition, and this is critical, you can still use your own Medical Payment coverage on your auto policy to help defray the costs of medical expenses while the case is resolving. Further, in catastrophic injury claims your own underinsured/uninsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage can also work in conjunction with Uber/Lyft’s coverage to maximize your recovery. As I’ve stated many times before, when discussing automobile insurance, the best investment you can make for yourself and family is to purchase as much UM/UIM coverage as possible through your own auto policy. Trust me. I’m not an insurance broker, I don’t make a penny if you buy more insurance, but I have seen the effects of what happens when insurance brokers don’t do their jobs correctly. Remember: Purchase the maximum Medical Payment coverage and maximum UM/UIM coverage available!
If you are an Uber/Lyft driver you might need help too. We have represented many of you who were injured by another careless driver and you have the right to recover for your injuries. Be aware that your own personal automobile policy may NOT offer you the same medical payment or UM/UIM benefits if you were driving your car for Uber/Lyft at the time of the accident. Automobile insurance carriers are getting smarter (and cheaper) and they don’t want to act as your worker’s compensation in the event of a workplace accident. It’s important you understand your coverages in the event you are involved in a catastrophic accident. The worst time to find out you have bad insurance coverage is after the accident has already occurred. And don’t think for a second that Uber/Lyft will pay you work comp benefits if injured, this is usually an add-on you need to have purchased through the company.
So, to the thousands of you using Uber/Lyft in the Denver metro area I say Good Job! Way to be responsible. The other drivers who are busy tweeting obscenities, smoking weed or taking selfies never think about how their bad decisions could ruin another person’s life. For all the bad the internet has given us it’s nice to have a few products out there that make a real difference in our lives. But if you are involved in an accident in any fashion with an Uber/Lyft driver (or a taxi cab for that matter) you have options and we would be happy to help you! Now you can resume your normal internet surfing.