Ride at Your Own Risk in Nebraska: Navigating Accident Liability in the Lyft Insurance Gap

Ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber have exploded in popularity across the United States in recent years. These on-demand transportation platforms offer convenience and affordability for riders. However, there are risks associated with getting into a stranger’s personal vehicle. Accidents can and do happen during rideshares. This leads to a complex web of insurance liability questions when rideshare drivers and passengers incur injuries and vehicle damage.

Understanding Rideshare Insurance Coverage

Rideshare insurance coverage can be confusing as there are different policies in effect during different phases of the ride. These are described below:

  • Period 1 – App Open: The rideshare company provides contingent liability coverage up to state minimum requirements when the driver has the app open but no passenger request yet. This covers the driver only.
  • Period 2 – En Route to Pick Up: Once a ride request is accepted, insurance coverage ramps up to higher limits. This is commonly $50,000 per person for bodily injury, $100,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage. This now covers the driver and rideshare company, but still not passengers.
  • Period 3 – Passenger In Vehicle: This is when the rideshare company’s insurance covers liability for bodily injury and property damage at the highest limits (commonly $1 million). Coverage includes the driver, the rideshare company, and the passengers.
  • Period 1 Again – After Drop Off: When the passenger exits the vehicle, insurance limits drop back down to minimum state requirements. The driver-only contingent coverage is in effect again.

The Dangerous Lyft Insurance Gap

Within this complex framework, there is a problematic gap in coverage during Period 1 when no passenger is in the vehicle. If an accident occurs during this time, Lyft’s contingent liability coverage offers woefully inadequate protection.

The minimum requirements in Nebraska are:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability

Compare those minimums to Lyft’s $1 million policy that applies when a passenger is riding. If a negligent Lyft driver causes a serious accident while waiting for a ping, the victims can be left facing devastating medical bills, lost wages, and other damages far surpassing the minimum coverage.

Liability Scenarios in the Lyft Insurance Gap

Here are some examples of how accident liability can play out if a crash happens during Period 1 when the driver has no passenger:

  • The Lyft driver causes an accident and injures another driver: The victim driver collects from the Lyft driver’s minimum $25,000 bodily injury liability coverage. If their damages exceed $25,000, they may have to file against their own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
  • The Lyft driver hits a pedestrian: Again, the victim can collect just $25,000 from the Lyft insurance. For severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment and time off work, $25,000 will not go very far.
  • The Lyft driver crashes into a building: For property damage over $25,000, the property owner or their insurance company can try to pursue the driver personally. However, collecting will be difficult if the driver has limited assets.
  • A tree branch falls on the Lyft vehicle: Since comprehensive damage is not covered in Period 1, the Lyft driver likely has to pay for repairs out of pocket or file a claim on their personal auto policy.

Top Tips for Rideshare Safety in Nebraska

Given the insurance risks, here are some tips on using rideshares safely in Nebraska:

  • Verify your driver’s identity and vehicle information before getting in.
  • Share your trip details and ETA with someone you trust.
  • Enable location sharing for the duration of the ride.
  • Sit in the back seat and use seatbelts.
  • Carry proper insurance coverage on your personal auto policy:
    • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage up to $100,000/$300,000
    • MedPay to cover medical bills
    • Comprehensive and collision if you own your vehicle
  • Avoid rideshares late at night when risks like drowsy or impaired driving increase.
  • Report any safety concerns immediately and follow up with the rideshare company.

We’re Here to Help

If you’ve been injured by a negligent rideshare driver in Nebraska, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.

With 32 offices in 19 states, including Nebraska, Colorado, and Washington, we have lawyers placed around the country ready to help. We can review the insurance coverage of your Lyft and help you take appropriate legal action to recover damages. Ride at your own risk no longer – we’ll navigate this complex process on your behalf.