Ride-sharing isn't a new concept in Alaska. But it's safe to say that Anchorage hasn't been as swift to adopt the technology-based services offered by the likes of Uber and Lyft. While those and other services infiltrated the Lower 48 in the late 2000s, ride-share services in Alaska only became legal in 2017.
The question of liability in cases of car accidents on the road is often difficult to answer. Insurance companies don't tend to make things any easier, either. And in the context of ride-sharing vehicles, the situation can be even more complicated. Obtaining optimal recovery when you suffer an injury in a crash involving a ride-share vehicle is more certain if you work with an experienced attorney.
Hurdle 1: whose insurance covers what?
There is no doubt that catching a ride with either Uber or Lyft is convenient. Push a few buttons on your smartphone and your ride shows up at your door. When you climb into one of these vehicles, you have a right to expect that you will be as safe as if you were a cab or a bus. But the ride-share driver's position as an independent contractor adds nuance to determining liability when crashes happen.
Alaska law obliges both Uber and Lyft to conduct appropriate background checks of prospective drivers to ensure rider safety. But there is no state oversight to make sure it happens.
When it comes to on-the-road activities, more layers come into play. For example, third-party coverage provided by the companies only applies when the driver is actively engaged within the online network. Otherwise, the driver's own personal insurance is in force.
However, it's worth noting that there have been instances in which insurers have disputed exactly what constitutes being on the clock, causing delays in claims.
If it's clear that the driver's own policy was in force at the time of an accident, then determining fault follows the process typically used in a crash involving private vehicles. But, as skilled attorneys will attest, that doesn't guarantee that the route to full victim compensation will be traveled without encountering legal potholes, so seeking help is always considered wise.