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The Challenges of Proving Liability in Rideshare Accidents

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Amidst the vibrant tapestry of Chicago's neighborhoods and its iconic skyline, a transformative force has quietly shaped the city's evolution: technological progress. Against this backdrop, rideshare services have emerged as the epitome of modern convenience, seamlessly weaving through the streets and reshaping the transportation landscape. Yet, this unparalleled growth in the rideshare market has unfurled a legal labyrinth of its own – a complex conundrum of liability. As collisions involving rideshare vehicles become more prevalent, the question looms: how does one untangle the intricate web of responsibility in this ever-expanding domain?

It can be difficult to prove negligence, especially when multiple parties may be at fault. This is notably true after a rideshare accident involving pedestrians or third-party vehicles. If you or a loved one was involved in a road incident, you need to be aware of the legal nuances of the matter, mainly if you choose to pursue restitution through litigation or arbitration. This article will discuss some of the difficulties associated with establishing liability in ridesharing accidents.

Definition of Liability

Legal culpability for an accident or injury constitutes liability. In cases involving personal injury, such as auto accidents, there are typically four elements that must be present to establish liability:

    • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
    • The defendant committed a breach of duty by acting negligently or recklessly.
    • The defendant's breach was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries.
    • As a result of the defendant's actions, the plaintiff suffered tangible damages (physical harm, emotional distress, etc.).

Determining liability can be difficult when multiple parties are involved in a rideshare accident, such as when another motorist collides with an Uber vehicle.

Identifying Fault

Identifying who was at fault for the catastrophe is difficult. If a driver violates traffic laws, such as by running a red light or exceeding the speed limit, they are likely culpable for any injuries or damages that result.

Nevertheless, if both drivers contributed to the accident through different negligent actions (e.g., one driver failed to signal while changing lanes while the other ran a stop sign), each party may share some degree of liability under state law governing contributory and comparative negligence tort rules.

Compared to other motor-vehicle collisions, the apportioning fault may be difficult due to a complex web of legal issues involving tort liability, insurance coverage, and ride-hailing enterprise contracts binding drivers. This becomes imminent when the collision is between two privately owned cars, whose respective insurers can agree on blame assessment due to established communication protocols and clear guidelines.

The frequent assertion by ridesharing companies that their drivers are independent contractors can further confound the liability issue. This is because courts have generally held that employers can be held liable for the negligent actions of their employees if those actions occurred within the scope of employment. Whether or not a rideshare driver was "on the clock" at the time of an accident will likely depend on the specifics of the case and could be contentious.

Insurance Protection

In addition to determining liability in rideshare accidents, navigating insurance coverage can be difficult. Both Uber and Lyft provide third-party liability insurance to cover passengers in the event of an accident caused by a driver while on the job. However, proving which motorist caused an accident may require substantial legal resources, especially if multiple parties were involved.

Moreover, additional factors, such as how much coverage is required and which party provides it, may also become areas where defining who should pay and how much requires careful consideration. This is why hiring personal injury lawyers is necessary to seek compensation.

Comparative Liability

Many states use comparative negligence law instead of pure contributory negligence law, but both concepts strive to determine what percentage (%) each party contributed to an accident. Then the required payout is determined based on that percentage.


Proving liability in ridesharing accidents presents a number of difficulties related primarily to complex technical issues related to ride-hailing services' insurance policies designed to protect all stakeholders.

Despite the difficulties associated with proving liability in the event of road accidents involving Rideshare platforms, the continued development of autonomous vehicle technologies may provide some relief, as artificial intelligence-based navigation and self-driving ridesharing may reduce the number of human errors that result in road accidents.