Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have fundamentally changed the way we get around in just a few years, and this is especially true in many areas of New Jersey which have not had traditionally had widely available and convenient taxi services. Over five billion rides were taken on Uber in 2017 alone, with many more taken through Lyft, Ola, Didi, and the countless new ride sharing startups entering the market, and the popularity of ride sharing looks to keep rising across the state of New Jersey.
But what happens when you get in a car accident in New Jersey while travelling as a passenger or driver in an Uber or Lyft (or other ride sharing app), or experience a collision with a driver working through a ride sharing app?
The good news is that New Jersey at long last codified rules in 2017 which mandate the level of insurance that drivers for ride sharing services and/or the ride sharing services themselves must maintain. In some cases, the amount of coverage available for those injured in ride sharing accidents is vastly favorable to that typically available in an auto collision.
You should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney – ideally one that has a proven track record of recovering significant financial settlements and verdicts for auto accident victims in New Jersey – as soon as possible, but below we provide an overview of the current coverage requirements for ride sharing services in New Jersey.
NJ Insurance Law When the Ride Sharing Driver Has a Fare
The general rule for auto accident liability in New Jersey is “no fault,” which means that injured drivers and passengers must typically look to their own PIP insurance coverage initially before recovering from the other party. Furthermore, the injured victim’s ability to recover may depend on his or her own insurance coverage (i.e. whether or not they have a “verbal threshold” or a “no limitation on lawsuit” policy).
This is not the case when a party is injured in an accident involving a ride sharing service vehicle which, at the time of the accident, is transporting a user of the service. In such cases, the injured party (other than the ride sharing driver) can sue the ride sharing driver and/or the ride sharing service provider directly for their injuries, and there is no “verbal threshold” limitation (described below) on the types of injuries for which they can recover.
Ride sharing services are required to carry at least $1,500,000 in insurance coverage for bodily injury, property damage, and death. Again, this provides significantly better options for recovery for those injured in accidents involving ride sharing services currently carrying client passengers than many other types of auto accidents in New Jersey.
The driver of a ride sharing service car who is carrying a passenger must also be provided with $10,000 in medical payment coverage, which is the coverage the ride sharing service provider’s insurer must carry to pay for injuries suffered by the driver himself or herself. Thus, the driver of a ride sharing service vehicle does not have to look first to his or her own personal insurance when suffering injury while driving a passenger for the service.
NJ Insurance Law When the Ride Sharing Driver is Looking for a Fare
If the ride sharing driver is logged into the ride sharing network and looking for a passenger when an accident occurs, then the coverage available to injured parties may be quite different, as New Jersey law imposes a lower type of coverage limit in such instances.
When the ride sharing driver is looking for a passenger, the liability coverage requirement for the ride sharing service is to provide at least:
- $50,000 for death or bodily injury per person,
- $100,000 for death or bodily injury per incident,
- and $25,000 for property damage
Unlike the approach taken when the driver is currently transporting a passenger (described above), other injured parties must first look to their own PIP insurance coverage before suing the driver and/or service when the driver is looking for a fare. In New Jersey, PIP insurance is the coverage that your own insurance policy (or the driver/owner of the car you are travelling in) provides for your injuries. Depending on the type of policy purchased, this coverage can be as low as $15,000, which may not be enough to cover the costs associated with serious accidents and injuries.
If an individual’s injuries are greater than the PIP coverage they are under, then their ability to recover may be dependent on what type of insurance policy they have and what type of injury they suffered. Some drivers carry so-called “no limitation on lawsuit” policies, which cover all injuries suffered in an accident. If you are subject to a “verbal threshold” policy (which are generally less expensive than “no limitation on lawsuit” policies), then you may only be able to recover for further losses above your PIP coverage if you or a family member suffered:
- Loss of a body part
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injuries and/or fractures
Winning recovery against insurers can often involve working with an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in your claim against the insurance company, as insurers typically will take legal actions to limit your liability by contesting the severity and cost of your injuries, but your attorney will provide strong arguments in your favor to win maximum recovery.
An experienced New Jersey auto accident attorney can also represent you in pursuing a legal claim against another driver (whether you are the ride sharing driver or are injured by a ride sharing driver) if that driver acted negligently in causing your accident, such as through speeding, texting while driving, driving drunk or drugged, or other careless actions.
Contact an auto accident attorney as soon as possible after your ride sharing auto accident to ensure that you are being taken care of and guided towards your maximum recovery for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and any other forms of financial recovery to which you are entitled.
Talk to an Experienced NJ Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have suffered injury in a NJ motor vehicle accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at SK Law are here to help. We have won millions in compensation for our clients, and we are here to stand by your side as your allies and champions in winning the recovery you deserve from all potential defendants. Our attorneys have built up a strong reputation for providing compassionate legal counsel to those who have suffered serious injury while aggressively and quickly taking all necessary legal action to recover for our clients to get their lives back to normal by winning compensation for all costs, losses, and pain and suffering. Contact us today to speak to a personal injury attorney about your potential car accident claim today.