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Can I sue an Uber or Lyft driver directly for causing an accident in California?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

When you’re involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver in California, you might wonder if you can sue the driver directly. This article will explore the legalities surrounding such incidents, including relevant California laws, steps to take after a car accident, liability in ridesharing accidents, and what to expect after filing a lawsuit.

Relevant California Laws

California law requires ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft to carry substantial insurance coverage for their drivers. When a driver is logged into the app and waiting for a ride request, the company provides a certain level of coverage. This coverage increases significantly once a driver accepts a ride request and while passengers are in the vehicle.

The critical aspect here is the concept of “periods” in rideshare insurance:

  • Period 1: When the driver is logged into the app but has not yet accepted a ride request.
  • Period 2: From the time the driver accepts a ride request until the passenger is picked up.
  • Period 3: From the moment the passenger enters the vehicle until they are dropped off.

The level of insurance coverage provided by Uber or Lyft varies depending on the period in which the accident occurs.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident

If you’re involved in a car accident with a rideshare vehicle, follow these steps:

1. Safety First: Ensure everyone’s safety and call 911 if there are any injuries.

2. Report the Accident: Notify the police. A police report can be vital in a personal injury claim.

3. Gather Information: Exchange information with all parties involved, including the rideshare driver. Get the driver’s personal insurance details and their rideshare status (whether they were logged into the app and if they had accepted a ride).

4. Document the Scene: Take pictures of the accident scene, including vehicle positions, damages, and any relevant road conditions or traffic signs.

5. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, it’s important to get checked by a healthcare professional.

6. Contact an Attorney: Consult a personal injury attorney to understand your rights and options.

Who is Liable for Ridesharing Accidents

Liability in ridesharing accidents can be complex. Typically, the driver’s personal auto insurance is the first line of coverage. However, if the accident occurred during Period 2 or 3, Uber or Lyft’s insurance policy might come into play. It’s crucial to determine the driver’s status at the time of the accident to understand which insurance applies.

Suing an Uber or Lyft Driver Directly

You can sue an Uber or Lyft driver directly if their negligence caused the accident. However, due to the high insurance coverage provided by these companies during active rides, it’s often more practical to pursue a claim against the company’s policy. If the accident occurred during Period 1, the driver’s personal insurance might be the primary source of recovery, and a direct lawsuit against the driver could be necessary.

What to Expect After Filing a Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit in these cases can be a lengthy process. It involves:

  1. Investigation: Gathering all relevant information, including the driver’s status at the time of the accident.
  2. Filing the Lawsuit: Your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf.
  3. Discovery: Both parties exchange information and investigate the claims and defenses.
  4. Negotiations and Mediation: Many cases are settled out of court during this stage.
  5. Trial: If a settlement isn’t reached, the case goes to trial.


Suing an Uber or Lyft driver directly in California is possible, but the specific circumstances of the accident will dictate the best course of action. Consulting with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is crucial to navigate the complexities of rideshare accident claims and to ensure that your rights are protected. If you have been injured in a ridesharing accident, call the personal injury attorneys at J&Y Law Firm today at (877) 310-2104 to get a free consultation about your unique situation. Our team will carefully listen to the details of your case and provide you with the information you need to decide whether to move forward or not with a lawsuit.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.