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How Uber and Lyft can deny liability for their drivers' crashes

Thanks to ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, Pennsylvania residents have more transportation options than ever. These businesses pay independent contractors who use their own vehicles to drive patrons. The fact that the drivers are independent contractors can protect the companies when drivers are involved in accidents.

When someone is hurt in a car accident, the at-fault driver could be liable for damages. If professional drivers cause accidents, however, sometimes the company the driver works for can be held liable. However, this is usually only true if the company pays the driver as an employee. When professional drivers are independent contractors, the company that pays them can deny liability for accidents. Uber did just that in 2014 when one of its drivers hit and killed a child in California.

Both Uber and Lyft do have insurance policies that cover passengers who are injured during a ride. These policies can cover medical bills for injured passengers whether the ridesharing driver or another motorist was at fault. However, this insurance doesn't necessarily cover accident victims who are not passengers in the ridesharing vehicle. The laws pertaining to this situation vary by state, and it can depend on whether or not the Uber or Lyft driver had a passenger at the time of the accident.

Because state laws vary widely when it comes to car accidents and legal liability, someone who is injured in a crash could face some hurdles when trying to get fair compensation. One potential challenge that could occur is when an at-fault driver has no or not enough insurance. When this happens, the injured person could file a claim against his or her own underinsured motorist insurance.

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