Before you ride – or ride again – with a service like Uber or Lyft, what should a Chicago-area consumer know? What if you are a passenger, you’re involved in a crash, and you are severely injured? You’ll need to speak immediately with a Chicago personal injury attorney.

In the Chicago area and throughout the world, ridesharing has rapidly expanded. Uber began in 2009. In 2019, it had more than 100 million users globally. Lyft started in 2012. As the second leading rideshare service in the U.S., it has a 28 percent market share as of 2020.

Both companies provide a variety of amenities and conveniences to consumers. Rideshare rides typically cost less than taxi rides. Nevertheless, consumers need to know about insurance and liability issues that can emerge when an Uber or Lyft vehicle is involved in a collision.

What Are Your Rideshare Rights?

What are your rights as an Uber or Lyft passenger? What if you are severely injured? What if your vehicle is hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, or if you are hit as a pedestrian? Who is liable for the medical bills you will have to pay and for the income that you’ll lose?

If you’ll continue reading, you will learn the answers, and you will also learn more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence in the State of Illinois.

Rideshare companies and bus, limo, rail, and taxi services are obligated by law to their customers, other motorists, and pedestrians. These rideshare companies have what attorneys call a “duty of care” to maintain vehicles safely and to employ only drivers with acceptable driving records.

Therefore, if you are injured because of a bus, limo, rail, taxi, or rideshare company’s negligence, you have the right under Illinois law to recover compensation from the company to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and all related losses and damages.

Who is Liable in a Rideshare Accident?

If a Lyft or Uber driver is negligent on the job and responsible for an accident that causes injuries, in most cases, Lyft or Uber will have liability for the accident. The key factor is that the driver must be on duty in order for liability to transfer to the rideshare company.

An Illinois personal injury lawyer can take legal action on your behalf if you are injured by a Lyft or Uber driver, but if the driver was not working or on duty when the crash occurred, your claim will be no different from an injury claim arising from a typical traffic accident.

However, if an Uber or Lyft driver is carrying a passenger when a crash happens, the driver, the passenger or passengers, and anyone else who is injured will be covered by a million-dollar liability insurance policy and a million dollars of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

What Does “Coverage” Actually Mean?

However, “coverage” for a traffic accident that involves Uber or Lyft will not keep an auto insurance company from challenging your injury claim.

The insurance firms that provide coverage to Uber and Lyft may try to reduce their liability and reimburse an injury victim with inadequate compensation or with nothing at all. Negligence victims need an injury lawyer’s assistance to recover the full amount they’re entitled to by law.

For example, if you are injured in a collision, an insurance company may claim that you’re fabricating or exaggerating the injury or that your injury was pre-existing. That is why, even when you’re “covered,” you must be represented by a Chicago accident attorney.

When a Rideshare Driver Has No Passengers

If a rideshare driver is not carrying any passengers when a collision happens – and if the driver was instead en route to a passenger or between calls – that is when an accident claim against Uber or Lyft can become complicated.

In this situation, Uber or Lyft may boost the driver’s own auto insurance with additional coverage, but each case will be complicated and unique. Injury victims in these cases must have a good personal injury attorney’s insights and advice.

Steps You Must Take After a Rideshare Accident

If you’re injured in an accident that involves Uber or Lyft – in your own vehicle or as a rideshare passenger – there will be no lawyer at the scene to give you advice. You will need to call paramedics and the police, take pictures, and try to get the contact details from any witnesses.

Take photos or have someone take photos for you. Pictures can be compelling evidence on your behalf if you pursue a personal injury claim. Eyewitness testimony or statements – coming from people you do not even know – are also usually persuasive.

You’ll need the names of the driver or drivers and as many contact and insurance details as you can get. If a driver works for Lyft, Uber, or any rideshare company, ask about the company and its insurance coverage. Find out who to speak with and where to submit your insurance claim.

Seek medical attention first, then get good legal advice.

How to Deal With the Auto Insurance Company

Do not speak to a driver’s or a rideshare service’s auto insurance company prior to consulting a Chicago accident lawyer. Anything you say could be used by the company to reject your claim or to reduce the amount of the company’s settlement offer.

Instead, let your Chicago personal injury attorney – an experienced negotiator who regularly handles accident claims – do the negotiating and talking on your behalf.

After any traffic accident, submit to a medical exam – and medical treatment if it’s needed – immediately. Then schedule a meeting with a good personal injury lawyer.

What Does An Injury Attorney’s Help Cost?

Your injury attorney can explain how Illinois law applies to your case and whether you have grounds for pursuing a personal injury claim. The first consultation with an Illinois injury lawyer is provided with no cost or obligation.

You will pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your attorney recovers – with out-of-court negotiations or in a personal injury trial – the full compensation you need and deserve. The “contingent fee” system levels the playing field and allows everyone to have their day in court.

Do not let an automobile insurance company take advantage of you. Ridesharing is convenient and easy, but if you are injured because of a rideshare driver’s negligence, you’ll need an Illinois personal injury attorney who will fight aggressively and effectively on your behalf.