Taking a cab or using a rideshare app isn’t just a great way to get from A to B, they are also an incredibly smart move if you plan on drinking and will need a ride. Even though you are not behind the wheel, you still have responsibilities as a passenger to be educated on proper etiquette and rules. Whether you are taking a cab or a fan of the growing ride sharing programs, such as Uber or Lyft, educate yourself on the best practices to make sure you are protected in case of any accident.
Contact the Organization - A great place to start is to contact the cab company or the ride share organization and ask what liability you may hold as a passenger. Each organization has its own rules as to what you as a passenger are responsible for. Knowing these guidelines is extremely important to understanding what may be cause for concern. For example, during busy times of the night certain organizations can surcharge your fare, which can multiply the cost of a ride. If you are unaware of these types of policies, you can end up paying anywhere from 2 - 10 times the standard cost for a ride.
Also, some companies may put you on the hook for damages caused by your or your party while traveling with them. If you damage the interior of a cab or a car being used for ridesharing purposes, you may be responsible for the cost to repair said damages. Uber will charge riders a cleaning fee of $50-$200 depending on the damage, listing “vomiting or pet accidents” as examples on their website.
Protect your Identity - A very common occurrence that can happen, especially on the weekends, is calling an Uber or a Lyft and someone else hopping in the car, either mistakenly or intentionally. Anyone who has woken up to a several hundred-dollar charge for a ride they did not use can relate to this problem. The best solution in these situations is to contact the respective organization as soon as possible and report the issue. Any evidence to prove that you were not the individual in the car can help but the organizations are typically understanding to these misunderstandings. Again, be diligent because the company will be less likely to open a claim after a few weeks have passed.
Ask your Insurance Provider - Your insurance provider is a great resource to understand passenger liability. Since this field is one that is not greatly discussed, people tend to overlook it, which opens them up to potential liabilities. By educating yourself, you will be able to be protected in case this issue ever arises. As ride sharing is constantly changing and legislation is being passed so regularly, the start of the year is a great time.
Understand What Makes a Good Passenger - There are some golden rules to be sure of as a passenger. Whether you are getting a ride from a friend or a driver, some simple steps will protect you from liability in case an accident does occur. Seemingly harmless actions like turning up the radio or pointing at something can put you partially or completely at a fault for an accident. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any action that can distract the driver and turn their attention away from the road.
Possessions - Leaving a purse, wallet, or cell phone in a car is a common occurrence but an extremely aggravating one, nonetheless. A great way to protect yourself is to see if the car service has a policy for lost possessions or if your insurance covers your personal property. You may have coverage for your belongings under your renters or homeowners policy. Check with your agent to see if there are any special limits on property that is outside your residence as well as if your policy will cover items lost from being left behind.
While you may not have thought about your potential liability as a passenger, you are most likely already following a few of these rules. By just taking the time to make a few calls and do some homework, you will have a much greater understanding of your liability as a passenger.