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What if Your Uber or Lyft Gets Hit by a Drunk Driver?

November 15, 2022
DUI Accidents

As we head into the holiday season, I want to make another plug for being responsible. If you plan to drink, don’t plan to drive. Period. With rideshare options so prevalent and easy to use, you’d be crazy to risk a DUI. (If you’re cost-conscious, consider the cost of a DUI fine. See below.) Also, driving after drinking is so supremely irresponsible and comes with severe consequences.

But what if you do the responsible thing and your Uber car gets hit by a drunk driver? I have increasingly heard about this very thing! What do you do if you’ve been responsible, but you still end up the victim of a drunk driving accident? It’s important to know whose insurance will help if you get hurt.

First, A Few Facts about DWAI and DUI in Colorado

Colorado beer - DUI laws in Colorado

Clearly, the absolute worst result of driving under the influence is that you could hurt or kill someone else. But let’s say you don’t hurt anyone. Instead, the cops pick you up and you’re found to be intoxicated. What penalties will you face?

Here are the other penalties that DWAI and DUI drivers face in Colorado:

  • First DWAI Offense: 8 points toward license suspension; $200 to $500 fine; up to 180 days in jail; up to 48 hours of community service. (You think your job will still be waiting for you after 180 days in jail? This is a life-changing penalty.) For DWAI, the blood alcohol limit is .05%. It does not take many drinks to hit that limit.
  • First DUI Offense: Administrative license revocation for 9 months; $600 to $1,000 fine; up to 1 year in jail; up to 96 hours community service; alcohol education. The DUI limit for drivers over 21 is .08%.
  • The penalties increase exponentially every time you are charged with DUI.
  • A fourth drunk driving charge is treated as a felony and is punishable by up to six years in prison. And that’s four charges in a lifetime. So, if you’re charged with a DUI in your 20s and don’t get your fourth DUI until you’re 60, you still face felony charges.

Be Smart: Take Uber or Lyft

person taking a Lyft in denver with masks on

With so many rideshare drivers on the road today, it shouldn’t be surprising that they are so often hit by drunk drivers. I haven’t read any national statistics, so my impression is only based on personal stories that I’ve heard, but it does seem to be a trending problem.

If you are in an Uber or Lyft and the car is hit by a drunk driver, it’s important that you know your rights. The good news is that those rideshare companies require very good insurance on their drivers, and they supply good policies for rider protection, as well. But, you will also be covered by the drunk driver’s insurance and, believe it or not, your own insurance, too.

First, let’s consider the coverage that your rideshare driver has. Uber drivers are covered by Uber’s insurance when:

  • They are on the Uber platform and before they accept a request: Uber covers drivers during this time but only minimally. Basically, drivers have liability insurance through Uber when they are online before they accept a fare request. Liability insurance covers any damages they cause to another person. (It does not cover any damage to their body or their car.)

    The amount of coverage varies by state but Uber liability coverage provides at least $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 per accident for property damage. But drivers better have their own policy on their car for any damage to their own property or body.

  • On the way to pick up a rider, and when driving riders around: During this time, Uber drivers are covered for three things:
    1. Third-party liability coverage, which covers any damage a driver causes to someone else. This coverage is at least $1,000,000 per accident.

    2. UIM or Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, which covers the driver and riders if someone else is at fault and they don’t have enough insurance to cover all the driver’s and rider’s needs. This coverage is also at least $1,000,000.

    3. Collision and comprehensive coverage will help pay for damage to the driver’s vehicle whether or not the driver caused an accident. (Drivers also need to have their own collision insurance in order to access this Uber coverage).

This is clearly the most important information for those of us who are Uber riders, particularly if you are in an Uber that was hit by a drunk driver. If you were hurt in an accident while riding in an Uber, you have access to the driver’s UIM insurance of at least $1,000,000.

But, if you were injured, you will also be covered by the drunk driver’s insurance, as well as your own. Here are the insurance coverage “buckets” you have access to:

  1. The at-fault driver’s insurance: The problem with this is that a lot of Colorado drivers only carry the bare minimum coverage: $25,000, which doesn’t go a long way. So, you will also need to access the following two “buckets.”
  2. The rideshare company’s insurance: This is what I covered above.
  3. Your own insurance: Hopefully, you’ve taken my advice and you’ve gotten all of the insurance coverage I recommend. In a situation like this, if you’ve been hurt by a drunk driver while riding in an Uber or Lyft, your own Underinsured Motorist Coverage will be the third “bucket” you can access for compensation.

If it sounds confusing, it is. That is why I highly recommend you get a Colorado accident attorney who specializes in drunk driving injuries if you are in this fraught situation. With so many involved parties and insurance companies, it is bound to get overwhelming quickly. Find someone you trust to represent you so that you can focus on healing.

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