The Colorado Legislature recently passed a bill that closes one more loophole that rideshare companies use to pass the risks of the ride and road onto their customers. The bill requires that rideshare companies provide insurance coverage so that injured riders can recover when their vehicle was in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Varner Faddis Elite Legal, LLC, helped bring public attention to the problem, and we played an instrumental role in the passage of the bill, including co-writing the law and providing legislative testimony in support thereof. We worked together with a client to help get state legislators on board with the new law despite opposition from the rideshare industry. Our efforts are one more example of our commitment to working for the safety and well-being of the public.
Rideshare Companies Put Their Financial Interests Above All Else
Rideshare companies do everything to protect themselves from liability. Even though you are their customer, the drivers who transport you are not rideshare employees in most states, including Colorado. Instead, they are independent contractors with less benefits and protections than employees. According to reports, companies like Uber and Lyft get a 20 to 25 percent cut for providing the technology and platform, but are often able to escape responsibility when a driver or passenger is injured as a result of using the rideshare services.
The accident that focused attention on the problem of hit-and-run coverage for rideshare passengers was yet another example of these companies putting their interests first and leaving their riders out in the cold.
In this particular accident, a passenger suffered serious injuries when a driver violently collided with an Uber vehicle and fled the accident scene. The Uber car flipped and the passenger needed hospitalization for a broken jaw and multiple broken vertebrae in his neck, among other serious injuries. This passenger faced more than $176,000 in medical bills, and he still needs future medical care.
To be clear, this particular passenger (who was our client) did not have auto insurance because he did not have a vehicle and, hence, no auto insurance company would cover him. If you have auto insurance and suffer injuries in an Uber accident due to a hit-and-run driver, you may file a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage with an uninsured motorist lawyer.
However, many rideshare passengers do not have cars of their own. Many people moving into the Central Business District in Denver do not buy cars because the area is largely walkable with plenty of rideshare and other transportation options available. Carriers do not offer auto insurance policies to cover these folks and pay for these damages under these circumstances.
For whatever reasons, other passengers may not have insurance, even if they have a car. More than one in ten Colorado drivers do not have car insurance. Some estimates run as high as 16 percent, and this does not even include people who do not have cars, like our injured client. It is against the law to drive without insurance – but not to ride in an Uber without insurance.
Uber Refused to Cover the Injured Customer’s Large Medical Bill
True to form, Lyft left this injured passenger on his own to pay for the costs of his injuries and losses. The passenger expected that Lyft would take care of his expenses and instead learned that he needed to fend for himself and pay his bills.
The central focus of rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber is on their bottom lines. Their major concern is spending as little as possible, to keep as much of its commission on each ride as possible. It does not matter which company was involved. They all operate by the similar principles – their financial interests above yours, no matter how much they tell you that you are a valued customer.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Exclusions from Rideshare Insurance Claims
Rideshare companies must maintain insurance to cover passenger damages when their driver was at fault. If a passenger suffers injuries in an accident caused by an Uber driver, they may seek compensation from Uber’s $1 million in coverage per accident policy. Colorado law previously did not require any other coverage. Under the new law, rideshare companies now must provide $200,000 in coverage per person and $400,000 per accident with an uninsured motorist or hit-and-run driver.
This law is even more necessary because Uber and Lyft formerly provided uninsured motorist coverage to their Colorado drivers and passengers but recently changed their policies to exclude drivers and customers from this coverage – presumably, to cut costs at the customer’s expense.
Colorado Is One of a Growing Number of States to Require This Coverage
However, many states have required rideshare companies to offer uninsured motorist coverage. Currently, about 20 states now require this coverage. In the wake of the media coverage after this egregious example of rideshare companies not doing right by their customers, the Colorado Legislature chose to act. Once the bill passed the House and Senate, Governor Polis quickly signed it into law.
House Bill 1089 does two things:
- It requires the insurance coverage provided by rideshare companies to extend to accidents with uninsured motorists.
- It forbids insurance companies from disallowing uninsured motorist coverage from the policy because the customer is a transportation network company.
Uber and Lyft Bitterly Opposed This Legislation
Although it seems like a good policy that protects rideshare customers and drivers from nightmare scenarios like the one discussed above, HB22-1089 was not without its share of controversy. The bill did not pass by wide majorities in both the House and Senate.
One main reason for opposition to this bill was that it might cost rideshare customers more. Of course, rideshare companies will pass the higher costs along to customers and not absorb them. One estimate put the cost of extra insurance coverage at 6 percent more per ride.
The rideshare companies claim that the legislation will make Colorado one of the most expensive states in which they operate, though other estimates refute this.
We Took on Rideshare Companies and Won
The opponents also claimed that rideshare companies were unfairly penalized because taxi companies do not have the same requirements. Companies like Uber and Lyft lobby heavily when any state-level legislation may impact their finances. However, this was a case where commonsense and fairness overcame the political power that the rideshare companies have in Denver. Varner Faddis Elite Legal Founding Partner Eric Faddis co-wrote and helped pass this legislation, which will provide protection for tens of thousands of Coloradans previously at risk.
Rideshare customers also have people in their corner who lobby and persuade lawmakers on their behalf. Here, supportive lawmakers accepted the argument that rideshare customers should not be forced into medical bankruptcy by an accident that was entirely not their fault. These injured customers should not have to bear the costs due to a loophole in the rideshare system.
You Still Need Legal Help in Uninsured Motorist Claims
Under the new law, you will still need to deal with the same insurance company, although uninsured motorist accidents are now covered. The insurance company will presumably act the same way after any accident, meaning that they will avoid paying you the full amount you deserve–unless you lawyer-up and hire a dedicated lawyer!
In an uninsured motorist accident, you may seek compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Families can recover wrongful death damages if their loved one did not survive the accident
Had the accident victim in the crash described above had uninsured motorist coverage, the insurance company might have covered his medical bills up to the policy limits, which might likely be much lower than his bill total of $176,000. Additionally, he still might have had unreimbursed expenses for the months that he missed from work.
Insurance Companies Will Still Try to Underpay You
To be clear, insurance companies will make you work for every dollar they pay. You will still need to negotiate extensively with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement agreement, which one is unlikely to accomplish without an attorney. The fact that uninsured motorist coverage exists does not mean that you will easily procure those funds from the insurance company. For that, you need to hire a hard-nosed and diligent attorney to work on your behalf. Your lawyer will need to know the value of your claim and the insurance company’s pressure points.
At Varner Faddis, we combine technology and determination to help our clients get the money that they legally deserve for their injuries. We did not hesitate to take on Uber and Lyft, so it follows that we are unafraid of their insurance companies and will do everything we can to help our clients get their money.
Call a Denver Rideshare Accident Lawyer Today
Varner Faddis was intimately involved in legal and political issues surrounding rideshare accidents. We co-wrote and helped pass the law which now provides for hundreds of thousands of dollars in protections for injured passengers and drivers. We understand the industry and know how to obtain high-dollar settlements for our clients. Our dedication to our clients goes above and beyond, as it did in this case, where we fought to change the law when a loophole unfairly denied our client the compensation they rightfully deserve.
You may not know what to do following a rideshare accident, but we are ready to guide you. To learn more about how we can help you, call us today at (720) 770-8335 or contact us online. Your initial consultation is free, and you owe us nothing unless you win your case. Do not wait to seek the legal help you need.