Our Fairfax, Virginia personal injury firm has handled more than our share of Uber accident cases. In our experience, there are at least three things that make ridesharing injury claims more difficult than injury claims which you bring as a driver in your own car. Our lawyers have learned after handling dozens of these cases that it can be difficult to learn the identities of all of the drivers involved; that you need to be on the lookout for first-party coverage in your vehicle; and that if you make a settlement with Uber, they will almost always ask that you keep the settlement terms confidential.
Identifying the Driver
Usually, when you are involved in an auto accident in Virginia, you will either recieve a Police Information Exchange or you'll receive the officer's card with a police report number on it. But as a passenger, you are sometimes overlooked. If you are quickly taken by ambulance to a hospital after a car crash, the police officer responsible for managing the scene may not know who you are or which hospital you're being taken to. If that is the case, he won't be able to stop at the hospital to give you the drivers information.
Of course, having the information for the driver who caused your crash is critical because you need to know where to make your claim. If your claim is against Uber or Lyft, this is pretty easy. You just make a claim through the app and you'll be directed to a claims manager. But what if you have a claim against the driver who hit you? How do you make a claim against their insurance company with out knowing who that auto insurance company is? Sometimes Uber and Lyft will be helpful with this information, but not always. The best Fairfax personal injury lawyers are able to track down the insurance companies through of the other drivers.
Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Crash in an Uber?
In Virginia, the primary payer of your medical bills after an auto accident is almost always going to be your health insurance company. The second source of funds - either if you don't have health insurance or if you are looking for someone to pay your medical costs, co-pays, and co-insurance as they come in - is Medical Expense Payments Benefits. Often called MedPay, this is coverage that will reimburse you for some medical costs as you wait for a settlement check.
There are two sources of MedPay coverage as a passenger in Virginia. First, the car that you are riding in will sometimes have some MedPay available to you. Our Virginia auto accident lawyers have seen Uber and Lyft policies with MedPay coverage of up to $12,500. This is good news because it represents an additional pool of funds for your medical costs.
If you were a passenger in an auto accident and the car did not have MedPay coverage, you would want to look at your own auto policy. If you have purchased MedPay on your own policy, that policy will cover you and pay your bills even if you were in someone else's car. We get this next question a lot. No, your rates will not go up in Virginia for a crash that was not your fault.
Does Uber Ask for Confidentiality After an Injury Settlement?
One thing that we routinely see after resolving a claim with Uber or Lyft's insurance companies that is very different than most auto insurance carriers is that their release will almost ways ask for confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements. Agreeing to confidentiality will prevent you from being able to tell other people about your auto accident settlement. This is usually fine - most people don't go around bragging about the size of their Virginia auto accident settlement. The only thing to be aware if is that while there is usually no tax consequence to settling a personal injury case, you may have some tax liability for the portion of the settlement that addresses confidentiality. This is something to discuss with your personal injury lawyer or CPA.
Agreeing to non-disparagement means that you agree not to say bad things about the Uber or Lyft driver or the company itself for having caused your crash or about the claims process. If you've left a bad rating on google, you better go remove it!
Injury Settlements with Ridesharing Companies
When you are settling an auto accident case against a ridesharing company, you can expect to jump through several more hoops than if you are settling a similar case with a "regular" insurer.