Rideshare apps give people an opportunity to monetize an investment they have already made and can theoretically help keep the public safer by providing an alternative to driving drunk or driving distractedly in a city where people don’t know their way around. Of course, any new system or technology results in unforeseeable consequences.
Questions about liability and insurance coverage are among the biggest challenges that have arisen from the proliferation of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. As a recently-settled lawsuit that started in San Francisco helps demonstrate, there are many different types of liability related to rideshare apps. For example, what happens when a passenger in a rideshare vehicle unintentionally causes injury to a member of the public by opening their door into traffic?
Uber recently settled a dooring lawsuit
A cyclist in San Francisco was riding down the street, abiding by traffic laws, when they encountered someone exiting an Uber ride. The passenger negligently opened their door into traffic, causing a during incident. A cyclist striking the open door of a vehicle can cause catastrophic injuries and can even throw them into traffic, putting them at risk of a secondary collision.
Oftentimes, the person who opens the door into traffic or the driver of the vehicle is the one responsible. Their personal insurance will provide coverage for the cyclist injured in the incident in most cases. However, the passenger in this case was at fault, while the driver, who was a contractor for Uber, did not actually make the mistakes that led to the cyclist’s injury.
The company may have recognized that the courts would hold them at least partially liable, as the case settled right before the scheduled court date after the plaintiff had previously refused a settlement offer. Details of the settlement have not been made public, but it is likely that the cyclist received some amount of compensation to cover the costs associated with their injuries. Given that the case did not go to court, it did not establish legal precedent for similar cases in California. However, cyclists injured by either rideshare drivers or passengers could very well have grounds to bring a claim against the company’s corporate insurance policy or even pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
Cyclists may suffer very severe injuries in incidents that barely leave cosmetic damage on the vehicles involved. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that cyclists know about their legal rights in case they do ever get hurt in an incident with unclear legal liability.