Car Accident Claim Vs. UBER and LYFT

Car Accident Claim against UBER and LYFT

While presenting a Baltimore car accident claim against a Taxi Cab Company like diamond cab or yellow cab has always been time consuming and often difficult, a car accident claim against Uber and Lyft drivers has been much easier to pursue. Insurance coverage available for a car accident claim against Uber and Lyft is far greater than for taxi cabs. Maryland car accident law requires better insurance coverage for passengers making a car accident claim against Uber   or Lyft vehicle. Maryland car accident law requires better insurance coverage for drivers and passengers struck by an at fault Uber or Lyft vehicle. Maryland car accident law requires better insurance coverage for pedestrians  struck by an at fault Uber or Lyft vehicle or making a car accident claim against Uber . Maryland car accident law requires better insurance coverage for passengers in a Uber or Lyft vehicle that is struck by an at fault uninsured motor vehicle.

Maryland car accident law requires every vehicle in the State of Maryland to have at least $30,000.00 worth of liability coverage except taxi-cabs only have to have $25,000.00 worth of liability coverage. Uber has one million dollars worth of liability coverage usually through James River Insurance company while the uber driver is logged in either to pick up a passenger or in route to drop off a passenger.The liability Insurance drops down to $50,000.00 if they are logged in at UBER and available to receive requests but has not accepted a request or is transporting a passenger.

Taxi cabs are exempt from the requirements of personal injury protection coverage that pays no matter who is at fault $2500.00. Uber and LYFT vehicles must have $2500.00 PIP coverage The Maryland PIP and UM statutes authorize specific exclusions and this isn’t one of them.  See Maryland Code (1995-97, 2011 Repl. Vol.), §§ 19-505(c) and 19-509(f) of the Insurance Article. The Maryland PIP endorsement to the form Personal Auto Policy prepared by the Insurance Services Organization do not include exclusions from coverage for situations in which the vehicle is being used to transport persons or property for a fee.  SeeAndrewJanquitto, Maryland Motor Vehicle Insurance 1033-40 (3rd ed. 2011).

Taxi cabs are exempt from the requirements of uninsured motorist coverage which normally provides protection for the passengers in a car  that is hit by an uninsured at fault owner or driver therefore are making a car accident claim against Uber  . Uber and LYFT vehicles have $1,000,000.00 of uninsured motorist coverage while the Uber or Lyft driver is logged in either to pick up a passenger or in route to drop off a passenger. The Uninsured motorist insurance drops down to $50,000.00 if they are logged in at UBER or Lyft and available to receive requests but has not accepted a request or is transporting a passenger. The Maryland Uninsured motorist endorsement to the form Personal Auto Policy prepared by the Insurance Services Organization do not include exclusions from coverage for situations in which the vehicle is being used to transport persons or property for a fee.  SeeAndrewJanquitto, Maryland Motor Vehicle Insurance 1033-40 (3rd ed. 2011).

Most Automobile insurance policies have an exclusion in their policy for vehicles being used for ridesharing. Therefore without the additional insurance from Lyft or Uber, the primary insurance on the vehicle which covers the vehicles at all times including when the person is not ridesharing would normally refuse to pay because of the exclusion. While the exclusion in the policy is likely unenforceable under Maryland Car Accident law, this would not stop Insurance companies from cancelling policies once they found out the driver was doing ridesharing. In order to avoid that problem, Uber and Lyft made a business decision to provide the secondary coverage.

The problem often arises that while Uber and Lyft know the primary insurance will refuse to provide coverage, they still make the Driver pursue his primary insurance first and get a denial of coverage. This seems unfair since Uber and Lyft know they will deny the claim and this may ultimately result in their Driver losing his primary Insurance

 

About 10 years ago there was an appellate decision about invalid insurance exclusion- pizza exclusion case -which the court said was invalid and the insurance company had to pay. So I think uber exclusion falls into that category.Salamon v. Progressive Classic Insurance Co., 379 Md. 301 (2004).  It involved an exclusion from motor vehicle liability coverage, not PIP or UM coverage.  The Court of Appeals held that a so-called “pizza exclusion” — which purportedly allowed the insurer to deny coverage if the insured was transporting property for compensation — was invalid up to Maryland’s minimum financial responsibility limits because it had not been authorized by the General Assembly.

The Court did not have to decide whether the exclusion would also be invalid above Maryland’s minimum financial responsibility limits, because the Progressive policy at issue in the case only carried the minimum limits.  Id. at 304 n.1.Later, in Wilsonv. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., 395 Md. 524 (2006), the Court held that another exclusion — the “fellow employee” exclusion — was indeed valid above the minimum financial responsibility limits.  The policy at issue in the case explicitly provided that the exclusion was invalid up to the minimum limits.  See id. at 529.So, at this time, an “Uber” exclusion would be unenforceable up the minimum financial responsibility limits.  The insurers will contend that it is valid above those limits on the authority of Wilson v. Nationwide.  Whether the argument that I just stated would be accepted will have to await future case law.That said, Uber — which obviously does business in many jurisdictions other than Maryland — has recognized the problem of exclusions in the insurance policies of its drivers’ vehicles, and thus it obtained the blanket policy from James River Insurance Company.

 



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