Uber ridesharing car accident attorney in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Who is Responsible for a Ridesharing Accident in California?

Ridesharing has become an increasingly popular means of transportation in San Bernardino County and throughout California. Uber and Lyft, the nation’s two most popular rideshare services, are based in San Francisco, and over the past decade, these companies have provided millions of rides for Californians and tourists who have visited the Golden State.

Uber and Lyft operate differently from traditional taxicab services. Instead of calling or flagging down a cab, consumers summon a rideshare driver using the app on their smartphone. Once the driver takes the passenger where s/he is going, the passenger pays the fare electronically. 

Services like Uber and Lyft have given many San Bernardino County residents a new and more efficient way to get to where they are going. Ridesharing is used widely by those who do not have a vehicle, and by those who may not be in a condition to drive safely.

For example, let’s say you decided to go out and meet some friends at Good Fella’s in Rancho Cucamonga. You drove over there thinking that you were going to stay for a little while and just have a drink or two. When you get there, you run into several other people that you know and, before you know it, you are closing down the place.

When you get caught in a situation like this when you have had too much to drink and the people you know are also intoxicated, it’s great to have the option to call an Uber or Lyft driver. But what happens if the driver gets into an accident?

Ridesharing accident cases carry with them additional complications because of the rideshare companies and their potential liability if their driver is responsible for the crash. When an Uber or Lyft driver causes a vehicle crash, liability for the accident will depend largely on the circumstances of the case, and more specifically, the status of the rideshare driver when the accident occurred. 

Can You Sue Uber or Lyft for a Rideshare Accident in California?

With a typical auto accident case, you would normally look to the responsible driver’s insurer for compensation, but with a ridesharing accident, Uber or Lyft might be on the hook as well. This will depend on the rideshare driver’s status at the time of the crash.

Both Uber and Lyft provide insurance for their drivers, but it operates according to the following guidelines: 

  • When rideshare drivers do not have their app turned on, they are considered to be operating the vehicle on their own personal time. As such, any accident that they might cause during this time would be covered by their own insurer.
  • When the driver is logged into their rideshare app and waiting for a passenger when they cause a crash, both Uber and Lyft provide up to $50,000 in liability coverage per person and up to $100,000 per accident.
  • From the time the rideshare driver accepts a fare until the passenger is dropped off at their destination, Uber and Lyft provide $1 million in commercial liability coverage and $1 million in underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

If you have been injured by the negligent actions of an Uber or Lyft driver – whether that be as a rideshare passenger, an occupant of another vehicle, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian – you should be able to file a claim against both the driver and rideshare company as long as the driver was logged into their app and available for a fare. This provides you with two potential legal avenues for which to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.

Damages Recoverable in California Ridesharing Accident Cases

Those who are injured in an auto accident can file a legal claim for compensation, commonly known as “damages”. Compensatory damages can be divided into two general categories:

  • Economic Damages: These are direct monetary losses that the victim suffers, such as medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity (in the case of a long-term injury), property damage, and funeral and burial expenses (in the case of wrongful death).
  • Noneconomic Damages: These are losses that are real but more intangible and difficult to quantify, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, disfigurement, and permanent injury.


In cases in which there is clear and convincing evidence that the actions of the at-fault party were especially egregious, punitive damages may also be awarded over and above those damages that are meant to compensate the victim. One common instance when this might occur is if the rideshare driver who caused the accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash.

It is important to note that California is a “pure comparative negligence” state, which means that auto accident injury victims can recover damages even if they hold some responsibility for the accident. However, their damage award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault that they share.

For example, let’s say you were involved in a collision with an Uber driver, and it was ruled to be 70% their fault and 30% your fault. And let’s say your total losses from the accident were $200,000. In this case, your damages would be reduced by 30% or $60,000 down to a total of $140,000.

You can expect that the other side will try to pin at least some of the blame for the rideshare accident on you because this reduces the amount that they have to pay for the crash. For this reason, it is very important to get an experienced attorney involved as soon as possible, so your right to full and fair compensation will be protected.

Potential Changes to the Rideshare Company–Driver Relationship in California

In recent years, Uber and Lyft have been embroiled in a battle with the state of California over whether their drivers are technically employees or independent contractors. The rideshare companies have maintained that they are independent contractors, but many state lawmakers want them to be considered employees. 

This is a very important distinction because if they remain independent contractors, then Uber’s and Lyft’s liability for rideshare accidents would only extend to the limits of the insurance coverage that they carry on their drivers. If, however, they become employees, then the rideshare companies could be held vicariously liable for their drivers’ negligent actions under the legal doctrine known as “Respondeat Superior”.

In 2020, California voters approved Proposition 22, a measure that was backed by the ridesharing companies allowing them to classify rideshare and delivery drivers as independent contractors. In August 2021, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled portions of the new measure unconstitutional and the law as a whole unenforceable.

The future status of Uber and Lyft drivers is in limbo as the proponents of Prop 22 appeal the judge’s ruling. For now, they operate as independent contractors, but if the judge’s ruling stands, then they could be reclassified as employees. The rideshare companies are already preparing for this possibility by considering a franchise-like model for their drivers.

Injured in a Rideshare Accident in Southern California? Contact a Reputable Rancho Cucamonga, CA Personal Injury Lawyer

Lyft and Uber accidents can result in severe and sometimes catastrophic injuries for victims, resulting in significant physical, emotional, and financial damages. When this happens, it is important to have an experienced attorney in your corner who understands what it takes to recover maximum compensation in these types of cases. 

If you or someone close to you got hurt in a ridesharing accident in San Bernardino County or anywhere in Southern California, contact Muhareb Law Group for the strong legal guidance you need. Message us online or call our office today at (909) 519-5832 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team. We are ready to go to work for you!