Uninsured Drivers, Uber Drivers, and Delivery Drivers: When Your Bike Crash Case Gets Complicated
Getting a settlement for a bicycle crash often comes down to one thing: insurance.
Of course, along the way we look at dozens of factors that explain how the crash happened, who was at fault for it, and much more. However, your actual settlement — the amount that you take home in order to compensate you for the damages caused to you by the crash — is determined by the weight of all those factors together, plus the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.
The average driver on the road usually has a maximum payout associated with their policy, and that number will determine the maximum you can receive in a settlement. It is pretty straightforward, in most cases.
But what if you have a special case? What if the driver who hit you didn’t have insurance? What if they were driving for work? What if they were driving a ride-share vehicle?
In these cases, determining your settlement can be much more complicated.
If you’ve been hit by a driver who falls into one of these unique categories, you can read more about how your case could work below. For detailed information and advice about your specific situation, please call Bay Area Bicycle Law for a completely free, no obligation consultation at 415-466-8717.
If you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver on your bike
Even though it’s against the law, many people still drive their cars with no insurance or not enough insurance.
Driving without insurance is against the law for good reason, since it means that if you are injured by someone, you have nowhere to seek compensation from but from the driver him- or herself. And the average person does not often have the amount of money needed to fairly compensate the average bicycle crash victim, which means you could end up footing the bill for thousands of dollars in damages caused by someone else.
There is a silver lining, however:
If you have your own auto insurance policy, you may have a kind of coverage called UIM, or uninsured motorist coverage. (In fact, California law requires this kind of coverage, so you may already have it even if you don’t remember opting in for it.)
UIM coverage is just what it sounds like – coverage for your costs if you are hit by a driver with no or not enough insurance. And it actually not only covers you if you are hit by an un- or underinsured driver in your car, but also if you are hit by one on your bike.
Check your auto insurance policy right now to make sure you are covered! The minimum amount of coverage you can get is $15,000 (but we recommend getting at least $100,000, and preferably $250,000 or even $500,000) — imagine what a difference that could make if you need it. Having this coverage can be a lifesaver in this kind of tricky situation (on your bike or in your car!).
Bike crash with a delivery truck or company car
Okay, getting hit by a car or truck on your bike is never a good thing. But if you are hit by a delivery truck or another kind of “company” vehicle, then your odds of getting a fair settlement are actually pretty good.
In almost every case, companies are actually required to carry insurance coverage for their drivers. So if you are hit by one of their drivers, then they have insurance coverage, just like any other driver — which means there is insurance money available to cover your damages.
On top of that, businesses have a vested interest in adequately insuring drivers who operate vehicles on their behalf. Think about it: if you were to sue the company after being hit by one of their drivers and they didn’t have good insurance, they could be in big financial trouble trying to cover your damages themselves. So it’s usually worth their while to invest in insurance to avoid those problems.
“Good insurance” means their policies have adequate financial coverage for a significant accident. In most cases, businesses would rather pay for insurance that will compensate you fairly and move on than to fight over money, which ultimately takes time and money away from their business.
What if you’re hit by a rideshare (Uber or Lyft, etc) driver?
Even though rideshare drivers are technically “working” when they’re driving, they aren’t covered the same way delivery drivers and other company drivers are. And that makes them dangerous for cyclists.
You see, the rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft that employ these drivers don’t actually claim them as “employees.” Instead, they are called independent contractors.
That means that if you are hit by one of these drivers, depending on different legal factors, it may be like being hit by any random person driving their car — only these drivers are more likely to be putting cyclists at risk by double-parking in the bike lane or being distracted by looking for pickups, texting, and using GPS tools while driving.
If they hit you, they could be grossly underinsured, or even uninsured, because the rideshare companies give almost no oversight to their drivers’ insurance status. And that would leave you with very little option for getting compensation for the damages they cause.
Plus, personal insurance policies like the ones held by these drivers (as opposed to corporate policies) are *not* intended to cover someone driving for commercial purposes — which means that if they were using their car for work when they hit you, their insurance would likely not even take effect.
If you are hit by a rideshare driver, the best thing you can do is look for an experienced attorney who can help you chart these still-new legal waters.
A good attorney can help you find ways to hold the company liable (and therefore seek a settlement from them) or craft a successful case against the driver. These cases can be tricky, but they are not impossible to win.
Call Bay Area Bicycle Law for help with your crash questions
If you’ve been in a bike crash, call us today for a free, no obligation, 100% confidential consultation with an experienced bicycle law attorney: 415-466-8717. We are here to help you understand your options and create a case that gets you fair compensation for your crash.