Groth Gets it! by Groth Law Accident Injury Attorneys – Uber and Rideshare accidents, Who’s insurance is responsible?

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In this episode of Groth Gets it! by Groth Law Accident Injury Attorneys, Jon Groth talks with Attorney Mitch, paralegal, Kate and clerk Rose. They discuss accidents that happen while using a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft and how that can impact what insurance is used and ultimately compensation.

Transcript:

Jon Groth:

Uber drivers and Lyft drivers, and all things taxi, I’ll say. I don’t know, is that the right way, Mitch? Taxi? Do we even say taxis anymore? Or what do you say when you’re hailing a cab? Back in the day, we’d hail a cab. I don’t know what, ride share? You hail a ride share?

Rose:

Call a ride share?

Jon Groth:

Call a ride share? Because you’re on the apps. You’re not really calling. You’re clicking a ride share?

Mitch:

Call an Uber, I think is.

Jon Groth:

Is that the…

Rose:

We always say call. We don’t call, but we always say we do.

Jon Groth:

So let’s say you’re at Milwaukee Summerfest, and you need to get home. And they say, “Hey. Hey, somebody. We need to get a vehicle to get us back to our home. Can you…”

Rose:

Call an Uber?

Jon Groth:

Call an Uber? Is that what you say, Mitch?

Mitch:

Absolutely.

Jon Groth:

Call. So do you guys ever call a Lyft?

Mitch:

Yes.

Jon Groth:

Do you call a Lyft? Do you?

Mitch:

No. Same thing with the Uber. You press the button to get a Lyft, but we call it call a Lyft.

Jon Groth:

Call a Lyft. I’ve heard call a Uber. “Hey, I’m going to call it, or I’m going to get an Uber.” Yeah. Kate, what do you do? Do you…

Kate:

I would call.

Jon Groth:

You would call?

Kate:

Yes.

Jon Groth:

Like physically call?

Kate:

No.

Jon Groth:

You go to the phone booth and get the phone?

Kate:

If I had a few quarters on me, I would do that as well.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. If they have any of those anymore, I don’t know if they do. Interesting. So I just got off the phone with somebody who was involved in a crash involving an Uber. And it was just an interesting conversation because we were talking about all things Uber, and whether you have insurance, whether you have med pay insurance. And then I was going down the rabbit hole of ride shares with this person. So it’s like, oh, well, while this is fresh on my mind, I’m going to drag some people from the office here and talk about ride shares and Ubers and Lyfts. And what’s the, maybe not really a bird, Bird scooters.

Mitch:

Yeah. Birds and Limes are the main scooters. But those are…

Jon Groth:

Are those considered ride shares?

Mitch:

No.

Jon Groth:

No. Are there any other ride shares out there besides Milwaukee Taxi or different taxis around the area? Is there any other ride share? Just Uber and Lyft, right?

Kate:

Correct.

Rose:

Unless you get a limo service. Is that under the same umbrella, or is that a different umbrella?

Jon Groth:

Yeah, no, I think limos would be it. Limos, Ubers, Lyfts. Just making sure we’re complete here with anything else. I think the big two are Ubers and Lyfts. Anyway, so this is going to put somebody on the spot. What’s the parent company of Uber? Anybody know?

Kate:

Razor? Rasier?

Jon Groth:

Razor?

Kate:

Rasier, R-A-S-I-E-R LLC.

Jon Groth:

And that’s important, probably just for us. I don’t think anybody really knows unless you’re an Uber driver. And when you sign up for Uber to be a driver, you have to sign all these documents to say that you can can drive, and you’re clicking on documents and signing documents electronically. And that’s with Rasier LLC. We know that because Rasier is the one that actually is the insured. When an Uber driver is involved in a crash, we’ll get letters from, right now I guess let me put somebody else in the spot.

Jon Groth:

I’ll put Mitch on the spot. Which insurance company now do we see most as the insurer for an Uber driver?

Mitch:

Allstate.

Jon Groth:

So that’s important. I’ll pull this up on my screen. ‘Cause I know that I have, I just had one before that it’s a letter from Allstate saying insured is Rasier LLC, and it’s not the actual driver of the Uber. It’s the LLC, the limited liability corporation or company Rasier LLC.

Jon Groth:

And my understanding is that it’s kind of going back and forth. Way back in the day, and I’m aging myself, I think it was Redwood? Remember this way back? It was a whole separate insurance company that was Redwood, or something like that, that insured Uber. And now they went, more recently, to, I’ll call them, the Big Four. So Allstate, Farmer’s Insurance, Liberty Mutual insurance, or Progressive are the four that most likely insure Rasier LLC, which is the parent company of Uber. So then, I know Rose, you’ve been looking at a case right now, right? That’s a case for an Uber driver?

Rose:

Tangentially. The Uber driver was driving our client.

Jon Groth:

So our client’s a passenger?

Rose:

Our client was a passenger, and there was no fault or liability given to the Uber driver.

Jon Groth:

Okay. So in that situation, if the at fault party that hit the Uber car has insurance, it would be a claim against their insurance. And if the at fault party did not have insurance, then it would be a claim against Uber’s uninsured motorist coverage. Okay? And I’ll put you on the spot again. What’s the minimum for uninsured motorist in Wisconsin?

Rose:

250?

Jon Groth:

25.

Rose:

25.

Jon Groth:

25. I wish it was 250. That’s great. I like that you’re going high. I wish it was $250,000. It’s $25,000. For underinsured, it’s $50,000. But that’s what’s concerning with these cases, is you don’t know what the limits are. And we just had, I don’t know who was talking, Kate or Mitch, about a million dollar policy. Is that you Kate?

Kate:

That was me. I can explain that if you’d like.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. So if you have a claim involving Uber, and now this is not Lyft, we’re just talking about Uber. Well here, let me go back. Lyft has, the last I’ve seen, was Travelers Insurance, I think. And I don’t know if they have a multitude of insurance companies that they work with, but I know that Travelers is one of them. Is that your reflection, Mitch?

Mitch:

Yeah. Travelers mostly. Mobilitas is another one that insures them.

Kate:

Correct.

Jon Groth:

Mobilitas. Okay. I don’t know how to spell Mobilitas.

Mitch:

M-O-B-I-L-I-T-A-S.

Jon Groth:

Okay. All right. So that’s for Lyft. So back to Uber, Uber has, let’s say a policy with Allstate, and then where would the $1 million in coverage come into play?

Kate:

The $1 million coverage would come in play if you had accepted client or ride share, you were in route to pick them up, I’m looking at the cert right now, in route to pick them up, and or transporting them, that would trigger the million dollars.

Jon Groth:

So if you’re, let’s say you’re just dropping somebody off at Summerfest. And you’re an Uber driver, and you’re going to the Holiday Inn to pick up somebody else. But you haven’t got them yet, would the million dollar policy apply?

Kate:

Yes, sir.

Jon Groth:

Okay.

Kate:

It’s about the app and they accepted the ride share.

Jon Groth:

Okay.

Kate:

That triggers the higher limits on the policy.

Jon Groth:

So I have a case, I’m looking here at one of our other cases where there was a $250,000 uninsured motorist claim, and this was for a passenger on a Uber. So we can, I guess, talk about these. This is why it’s important to get an attorney, a law firm that understands this because you really need to know when and where you’re going to get the most compensation.

Jon Groth:

If your injuries are that severe, how are you going to know that what you’re getting is the most coverage, right? And this is one, it’s an uninsured motorist case. This is my understanding is that the limits were $250,000, but that’s for uninsured motorist. So the there’s a passenger in a Uber car. And I just say car, because I should say Uber vehicle ’cause I’m not quite sure if it’s Uber Black or the Uber SUV, but Uber vehicle. And they were hit by an uninsured motorist, and Uber had only $250,000 in coverage for uninsured motorist. Is that your understanding, Mitch?

Mitch:

Yes. Yep.

Jon Groth:

Could they have more? Could a victim, could a passenger in an Uber car have the ability to get more coverage or have more coverage for uninsured motorist?

Mitch:

Yeah, they could. I guess then it just comes down to which policy is primary or excess.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. Yeah. Because they could have their own insurance, right? That they could have their own policy for their own car.

Kate:

Correct. I was going to bring that up.

Jon Groth:

Yeah.

Kate:

In fact, when you are an Uber driver and a Lyft driver, and you sign an agreement to do this ride share, you actually sign and agree that you will maintain the minimum state insurance. Now, in the business, we’ve seen a lot of these drivers don’t.

Jon Groth:

Mm-hmm.

Kate:

And rely on Uber and or Lyft policies to be primary. So that’s another issue, too, of which, at that time, say there’s two policies. Which one is going to be primary, which one is going to be excess?

Jon Groth:

And if there’s the minimum policy. Let’s say you’re “fully covered” in Wisconsin. What’s the minimum dollar amount of insurance for that person? Rose, what’s the minimum?

Rose:

25.

Jon Groth:

25,000 only $25,000.

Rose:

Correct.

Jon Groth:

So what does it cost you to get a Flight For Life from anywhere to, let’s say Froedtert? Rose, do you know the average cost?

Rose:

I do not.

Mitch:

20 grand?

Kate:

I was going to say 15 to 20, easy.

Jon Groth:

Yeah.

Rose:

I was going to say more, but it’s already a lot. Yeah.

Jon Groth:

It’s a lot. So it’s almost the whole “full coverage”. So we have clients who call us all the time and say, “Hey, I have full coverage. I was hit by an uninsured motorist. And I don’t understand what full coverage is because insurance agents oftentimes say, ‘Yeah, you are fully covered because you meet the state minimums’.” But in my mind, that $25,000 does almost nothing. It’s, certainly, if you’re really severely injured and you’re relying on that to make you whole, “make you whole”, I hate that phrase because you can never be made whole if you’re that badly injured.

Kate:

Correct.

Jon Groth:

$25,000 isn’t going to get you very far. So we got Allstate, Progressive, Travelers, Farmers for Uber, and then for Lyft, we have Mobilitas and…

Rose:

Travelers for Lyft. Liberty Mutual also was the other Uber one.

Jon Groth:

Oh, Liberty. Thank you. Thank you. Okay. I’m not going to go into that now because that’s going to be another 15 minute conversation, but we could talk about Lime and Bird and that kind of stuff, but that’s a whole different tangent that I’m not going to go on. What else? Do we know, do they have insurance adjusters that are local in Wisconsin for victims who are injured by an Uber vehicle? What’s your experience? I’m trying to think of one that I had here, I think they were in Chicago. I remember it was…

Kate:

I was going to say that.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. The headquarters.

Kate:

Yeah. In Bloomingdale or Bloomington, I believe. Which is for Allstate. If it’s an Allstate. Yeah. All of the claims came out of that office for me.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. And that’s a good point. ‘Cause I’m looking at a letter we have here. This is for uninsured motorist case. And this is where, certainly, we can add some benefit, add some peace of mind, because this is a letter from Allstate to a passenger in a Uber vehicle because they’re making a claim for uninsured motorist claim. And the letter says boy, all these things. Your policy has several requirements around the claim process. Communicating with us in writing before you take any action. Providing us with all pertinent information, damage documentation. Send us a list of medical providers. You have to protect Allstate Insurance Company’s subrogation rights, do not settle with another party before you give them reasonable notice so they can determine a proper course of action. Cooperate with us. If you don’t do this, then you may be outside the policy.

Jon Groth:

So you would not get the benefit of the uninsured motorist and then you would truly have no way to get any recovery. So they’re making this a little bit more difficult by saying you have to comply with all of our requirements, and then we will allow you to get any money from us. And then Allstate would stand in the shoes of the at fault, party. And this is something where I think, let me go on, I don’t know who we should talk to about this. It’s important that we get in the middle earlier on, because what can happen if somebody gives the insurance company an authorization, you get all their medical records. Kate?

Kate:

Without being represented?

Jon Groth:

Correct.

Kate:

It’s a blanket authorization.

Jon Groth:

Correct.

Kate:

And they’re going to seek any and all medical records. They’re basically going to delve into your entire life to try to minimize your claim.

Jon Groth:

Yeah.

Kate:

To pay less.

Jon Groth:

I’ve seen cases where a blanket authorization has been signed. And I called my client when I got the medical records. So my client sent the authorization before they hired an attorney. I get hired. I send a letter off to the insurance company saying the authorization’s now void. I want copies of everything you’ve gotten. I get literally a basket of records in the mail, box of records in the mail. And the very first record was her birth record. And I called my client and said, “Hey, I know you’re, I think she was like 36 at the time, but I’m looking at, you were eight pounds, four ounces when you’re born.” She’s like, “What are you talking about?” It’s because the medical records that the insurance company, that is adverse to you, that’s against you, they’re looking at every single record from your entire life.

Kate:

Life. Correct.

Jon Groth:

It’s just scary.

Mitch:

Yeah.

Jon Groth:

I think that’s just unnecessary, right?

Kate:

It’s an absolute overreach, but they do it knowing that, if they’re not represented by counsel, they wouldn’t know any better.

Jon Groth:

Correct. Yep. And that’s where letters like this, from Allstate, from the insurance company that’s supposed to be paying for your damages, and through no fault of your own, you’re just a passenger in an Uber and you’re involved in a crash, and now you have to make a claim against Uber’s insurance. And they’re sending this letter saying you need to do X, Y, and Z. And I mean, right away, you’re fearful that if you sign something that you, or if you don’t sign something that you’re supposed to sign, they’re going to deny your claim.

Kate:

Correct.

Jon Groth:

And that probably happens pretty often, right? Right Mitch, where they get that fear?

Mitch:

They get that fear, and then the issue is when they actually do sign that document because then they actually give up their rights to the claim.

Jon Groth:

Yeah.

Mitch:

And we see that far too often.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. Yeah. And there’s cases where Allstate, or insurance companies in general, say, have pretended like they’re on their side. That they’re a good neighbor, and they’re trying to help them out. And then documents are signed, and the client, or the potential client, comes to us and says, “Hey, can you help me?” And we look it over, and it’s like, “Oh man, we wish you would’ve called us two weeks earlier ’cause we could have helped you, but we can’t.”

Jon Groth:

All right. Good information. So Uber or Lyft are ride shares, and we’re going to call an Uber or call a Lyft, which just doesn’t sound right to me, so I’m going to keep on saying that until it sounds right. And then next time or sometime in the future, we’re going to talk about Bird and Lime.

Mitch:

Bird. Lime.

Jon Groth:

Any more of those out there?

Mitch:

There are. In the local area though. Bird and Lime are the two.

Jon Groth:

Have you ever gone on a Bird?

Mitch:

Yeah.

Jon Groth:

Have you?

Mitch:

Yep.

Jon Groth:

Man, you’re brave. I would never.

Rose:

And the Bubbler Bikes, Bublr Bikes?

Jon Groth:

Yeah. I think it’s Bublr.

Kate:

I think there was some big thing about that with the city and people getting…

Mitch:

With the Bublrs?

Kate:

Yes. I believe, if you…

Mitch:

Really?

Kate:

I will have to research it, and then I can join…

Mitch:

I haven’t seen the Limes and the Birds out recently though.

Kate:

I see Bublrs.

Mitch:

Downtown at least.

Jon Groth:

The reason I, sorry to cut you off, the reason I said Limes and Birds is I literally just saw, not a rack, but a bunch of them together where it was three Limes and three Birds.

Mitch:

Yep.

Jon Groth:

Which seemed weird that they’re, competitors are in line together, right? East of us on Bluemound Road.

Mitch:

Oh yeah.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. So, sorry, Rose.

Rose:

I was going to say that they’re not allowed in some parts of downtown, and it seems like the parts where they’re not allowed, just keep getting bigger and bigger. So they’re pretty confined. Which takes away from the point of them. If you’re just trying to get half a mile across downtown, you might not be able to do that.

Jon Groth:

Well, and what if you leave them somewhere that they aren’t allowed? Is that?

Rose:

They get picked up by a trailer. I’ve seen it happen. And I was like, “I feel like I’m not supposed to be seeing this.”

Jon Groth:

Picked up by a trailer? Like a city trailer?

Mitch:

No, the workers for Bird or…

Rose:

Right. Employees.

Jon Groth:

Oh.

Mitch:

And they got to come by and charge them, and do maintenance on them.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. Interesting.

Kate:

I want to add something that I think is important if you happen to be an Uber driver. Something interesting with regard to property damage. And I did have a client a few years ago that experienced this. The deductible for property damage is $2,500. Now, Rose, can you tell me the average deductible for us average individuals on our policies?

Rose:

Auto policies personally, is it 5,000?

Kate:

500.

Rose:

500.

Kate:

500.

Rose:

Oh.

Kate:

You can adjust it to get a lower rate, but typically it’s 500. So if you are an Uber driver, you don’t have it, your own insurance, and you’re relying on that Uber policy, guess what?

Jon Groth:

It’s five times.

Kate:

Absolutely.

Jon Groth:

Wow. It’s overwhelming. $2,500.

Kate:

Oh for anyone.

Jon Groth:

For anybody. Holy smokes. All right, good stuff. Thank you.

Kate:

All right. Thank you.

Jon Groth:

We will talk about Birds and Limes. What else should we talk about?

Kate:

Bublrs.

Jon Groth:

Bublrs.

Kate:

I want to talk about the Bublrs.

Jon Groth:

Bublr Bikes, not bubblers the water fountain. Yeah. Do you call them bubblers, Rose? Or what do you call them?

Rose:

Bubblers.

Jon Groth:

Bubblers? Good. That’s the right way to call them.

Mitch:

Yeah, bubbler.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. All right.

Kate:

I’m from Illinois, sorry.

Jon Groth:

Oh gosh.

Rose:

Never used one thought.

Kate:

It is a water fountain.

Jon Groth:

A water fountain? Yeah. All right. Okay. Thank you.

Kate:

Thanks.

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