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Who is liable in a California ride share collision?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Many people in California hire drivers from companies like Uber or Lyft when they would like a taxi service as opposed to driving themselves somewhere. For example, someone who might be meeting friends for drinks and does not want to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol might hire an Uber driver. State law lists such drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. What happens, then, if you’ve suffered injury in a collision involving a rideshare vehicle? 

In all 50 states, if another driver’s negligence has caused a collision that resulted in injury to you or your loved one, you may file a personal injury claim in civil court to seek compensation for damages. What if that other driver was on duty as an independent contractor for Uber or another rideshare service?  

You can hold a driver accountable for a collision 

Millions of people currently earn income by driving for rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft. Data shows that the risk of collision has increased since the invention of rideshare apps. If a collision caused by a rideshare driver results in injury, you may seek financial recovery for your losses against the driver.  

In an employer/employee relationship, the employer may be liable for the negligence of a worker. Since California law lists rideshare drivers as independent contractors, the companies they work for are not liable for their negligence if a collision has occurred. However, a recovering victim could file a claim directly against the driver in civil court.  

What if the Uber driver did not purchase liability insurance? 

Many rideshare companies require their drivers to purchase liability insurance. Even if that’s not the case, however, the driver who hit you may still be liable for damages. A judge or jury in court would decide this. You must build a strong case to prove that the driver’s negligence was the cause of the damages that occurred. Gathering as much evidence as possible is the key to successful litigation.  

Suing a rideshare driver after a loved one’s death 

If a California collision results in the fatality of your loved one, and the accident was caused by a rideshare driver, an immediate family member (such as a spouse or parent) may file a wrongful death claim in civil court. While there is no way to replace a lost life, a judgment could help alleviate any financial strain the collision may have caused, such as medical bills for care provided to your loved one before death, funeral expenses and other costs.