In Alabama, passengers injured in a car accident may run into a quirk of the law when it comes to their injuries. Alabama’s “guest statute” prevents a rider in a car from making a claim for negligence against the driver unless the rider provided the driver with payment or something else of benefit.
What Is A “Guest”?
Whether or not a rider in a car is a guest or a passenger for hire has been the subject of much litigation. The benefit the rider provides to the driver to avoid the guest statute doesn’t have to be money, it can be something else that benefits the driver or even something that mutually benefits both the rider and the driver.  As long as the benefit isn’t something incidental, the guest statute may not apply. Luckily, the issue is much clearer with Uber and Lyft drivers. The guest statute doesn’t apply when you pay an Uber or Lyft driver for your ride.
So, if you and your Aunt Sue are driving to Walmart to pick up some groceries and Aunt Sue runs a red light, you wouldn’t normally have a claim for negligence against Aunt Sue for your injuries. But if you hire an Uber driver who runs a red light on the way to Walmart with you in the car, you may have a possible claim against the driver. Likewise, the driver and any passengers in any other cars involved in the accident may also have claims against the Uber driver.
How Will You Get Compensation?
Generally, financial responsibility for your injuries and any damages comes from the Uber driver’s insurance. If the driver carries commercial insurance or a personal car insurance policy with a rider providing coverage for ride sharing, either of those policies could apply. However, many ride-share drivers don’t carry extra insurance or have riders to their personal policies. Luckily, Uber and Lyft do carry third party liability insurance coverage for up to $1 million in coverage for personal injuries and property damage for each accident. If the driver does carry another policy, the third-party liability insurance will generally kick in after the driver’s personal insurance is exhausted.
At Petro Law Firm, we hope you never find yourself in a car accident. However, if the situation does arise, we’re here to help. If your car accident is complicated and you need assistance, call us at (205) 327-8311.