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Can rideshare companies be liable for their driver’s negligence?

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2024 | Car Accidents

In an increasingly modern and mobile world, ridesharing services provide invaluable convenience for those who wish to avoid traffic jams, and save money and time from commuting or owning a vehicle.

California refers to businesses, such as Uber and Lyft, as transportation network companies (TNCs). TNCs use online applications (apps) to serve as intermediaries between drivers who operate their personal vehicles and passengers who need a ride.

However, despite the multiple benefits of rideshare apps, accidents can still strike at any time. When rideshare drivers are at fault, injured parties must know that employers may also be liable.

Employers can be vicariously liable for their negligent employees

The state’s drivers must have minimum liability insurance coverage. So, when an at-fault driver’s rideshare app is off when a crash occurs, they can use their personal insurance policy to cover the other party’s injuries and losses. But if the driver is online while waiting for a passenger, their employer’s auto insurance can apply, which can also be up to $1 million if they are about to pick up or drop off a passenger.

But not all cases present a clear defendant. In these instances, affected parties may prove their claim using the “respondeat superior” principle. This rule is when employers are vicariously liable for their employee’s actions while on duty that result in injuries or deaths. In short, since they are in charge of their subordinates, employee negligence extends to them.

Employers may have failed to properly screen a person’s fitness to drive a vehicle. They may have also overlooked training or lacked the necessary supervision.

To reduce or avoid liability, companies often assert a potential gray area by claiming that their drivers are independent contractors, which means they do not have established employee-employer relations.

Victims can be caught between insurance companies

When several drivers and entities are involved, injured parties may be stuck between insurance companies that try to limit payouts. A legal team can help them protect their rights, walk them through options and help them pursue compensation.