Who is Liable in a Rideshare Accident in Arizona?

Posted On September 25, 2023 Arizona Laws

In the last five years, the rideshare industry has boomed in Arizona and around the United States, rising from a $6.68 billion dollar industry in 2017 to a $95.09 billion dollar market value in 2022. There are close to 2 million rideshare drivers in the U.S., and both Uber and Lyft services are available in every urban area in Arizona.

A rideshare vehicle is a comfortable and convenient means of traveling to destinations within a community and a reliable means of traveling in unfamiliar locations, but along with the rise of the rideshare industry has come a 3% increase in overall traffic accidents nationwide. Not only are streets more congested with individual vehicles transporting passengers who might otherwise occupy a single bus, but rideshare drivers often cruise the streets between passengers while awaiting their next booking.

All accidents in fault-based insurance states like Arizona require an investigation to prove liability, but determining liability in rideshare accidents may present unique challenges.

Arizona’s Comparative Negligence Laws

Arizona is a pure comparative negligence state. Anyone who sustains property damage and injuries in a car accident may claim damages, even if they are partly at fault for the accident, or when they’re mostly at fault. The insurance company then reduces their payout by their percentage of fault. For example, someone 90% at fault in an accident may recover $10,000 if their damages amount to $100,000.

In Uber and Lyft accidents in Arizona, it takes a diligent investigation into the circumstances of the accident to determine if liability lies with the rideshare driver, another driver, a defective car part manufacturer, a lax road maintenance agency, the rideshare company, or if one or more parties share liability.

Proving Liability in a Rideshare Accident

Rideshare drivers are often liable for car accidents because they’re distracted by their rideshare app, they sometimes exceed the speed limit to maximize the number of rides they complete per shift, and many work late hours driving as a second job. It’s also a common part-time occupation for college students who may be inexperienced drivers. Proving liability in a rideshare accident means identifying the liable party or parties, and then demonstrating the following legal points:

  • The at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injuries
  • They breached this duty through an act of negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing
  • The negligent breach of duty directly caused injury
  • The injury victim suffered significant damages due to the injury

Both Uber and Lyft rideshare companies maintain their status as app-only companies that merely connect passengers with independent contractors in order to protect themselves against direct liability in most rideshare accidents. However, they do require their contracted drivers to carry special liability insurance that works on a tiered structure depending on the stage of the rideshare experience when the accident takes place.

Understanding Rideshare Insurance Liability

If a rideshare driver is at fault in an accident, their insurance coverage works on the following complex, tiered system of coverage:

  • When the driver uses a rideshare vehicle in a personal capacity, their private car insurance policy is in effect
  • Once the driver turns on their rideshare app and actively awaits a booking, their lower-level rideshare coverage provides up to $25,000 per person in property damage and $50,000 per person in personal injury coverage or $100,000 total per accident
  • Once the rideshare driver has a passenger booked and is on the way to pick them up, and then throughout the rideshare journey until drop-off, the top tier of coverage is in place with $1 million in personal injury coverage and property damage per accident.

Navigating rideshare accident claims to prove liability and identify the applicable coverage is often complicated in a rideshare accident. It takes an in-depth investigation by a knowledgeable rideshare accident attorney in Arizona to resolve a rideshare claim.