What Should You Do If A Passenger Opens Your Door Into Oncoming Traffic?

Picture this: You’re downtown,getting ready to drop off your passenger for a night out on the town when before you can say anything, the passenger behind you flings open the door, right into oncoming traffic, and boom. Ouch, right?

If you’ve driven anywhere during a busy area, this is something you really need to watch out for. I’d like to discuss how to handle this situation. And make sure you stay tuned to the end because I’m going to share a few strategies to avoid this in the first place.

Take a look at the video, or scroll to the video transcript if you prefer to read.

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Pickups and drop-offs are a tough time to be a driver

You’ve got to keep in mind that passengers can be careless. They can often open doors without checking to see if any cars are there, especially if they’ve been drinking. Bikes are coming up. There’s a lot going on, especially in pickups and drop offs.

I think that’s the toughest time really to be a rideshare driver. It’s the most challenging time. And it can get a whole lot worse once you try to make an insurance claim.

Whose fault is it, and who covers the damages?

If this situation, you have to remember that the car is yours, so you’re likely going to be at fault in this situation, even if the passenger opened the door. They don’t assign fault to individual people. They assign it to one car or the other. And if your car is the one who opened it into oncoming traffic, it’s pretty clearly, almost always going to be your fault.

In that situation where you’re on a trip, you’re actually on Uber’s insurance until the passenger exits the car, which is called period three. The good news is that Uber will cover the other person’s car with their one million dollar liability policy.

But the bad news is that since you’re at fault, you’re responsible for the $1,00o collision deductible for your car, which is part of Uber’s commercial insurance policy. Now, if this happens on Lyft, it’s actually a $2,500 dollar collision deductible.

Rideshare insurance comes in handy here

I just want to mention, this is where rideshare insurance can really come in handy, and I can’t recommend this enough because I hear so many of these stories. And it’s unfortunately too late when these people come to me.

If you have a policy, for example, a rideshare policy with State Farm or Geico, these are companies that specifically actually cover periods two and three, so you don’t even have to use Uber or Lyft’s insurance. And, in this situation, you would pay whatever deductible your policy has, which probably is a lot lower, maybe only $500, maybe even $250, so that’s a lot less versus $1,000 or $2,500

Head to the insurance marketplace at The Rideshare Guy to see our listing of agents that we recommend.

What do you do when this happens?

This is not a good situation to be in, and frankly, there’s no guidelines for how to handle this. You have to figure it out on your own. If it were me, I would definitely look to get your passenger’s contact information since they’re really going to be the one that ultimately is going to be responsible for any damage or to cover your deductible or anything like that.

I’m going to get the passenger’s name, their phone number, copy of their driver license, any other information that I can get about them. If they have a business card, that’d be great. Hopefully, the passenger will agree to pay for it. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that it’s their fault, but at the same time, you may need to actually end up threatening them with legal action or more likely, probably take them to small claims court.

Sending a demand letter if a passenger won’t pay

One quick pro tip that I want to mention. Let’s say you have a friend who’s a lawyer. In this type of situation, if you have their info but they won’t pay and it’s clearly their fault, you can ask a lawyer to write you what’s called a demand letter. And have your lawyer email it to them. Most people will get scared by that and pay.

It’s an official-looking document from a lawyer that says, “Hey, you owe me money and here’s why. Otherwise we’re going to sue you.” You don’t actually always have to follow through on the lawsuit, but I’ve actually had to send people demand letters before for advertising work and almost always I’ve gotten paid because of it. It’s sort of like a big scary thing.

If you’re having trouble getting this passenger to pay or they’re not coughing up and owning responsibility, you could take it one step further, which is a little stalkerish in my opinion, but you could look them up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, maybe even start messaging their friends and family explaining, “Hey, this, here’s what happened. This guy owes me a thousand dollars.”

If you’re talking to his boss, I probably wouldn’t want to hear that about my employee. I’ve never had this situation happen to me, but I talked to a lot of drivers where this has happened and, unfortunately, they don’t usually get the passenger’s contact information ahead of time. So they’re kind of out of luck.

What to do if you can’t get the passenger’s information following the incident

Uber and Lyft will not share passenger information with drivers. And I think you’d even have to get like a subpoena to get that info. There are other ways to get in contact with the passenger. Let’s say you watch this video after the fact. This has already happened to you. You have no idea who this passenger is. Maybe you remember their first name. But you do know where you picked them up and where you dropped them off.

It may make sense to go back to that pickup location. If it was a business, walk in, ask around and say, “Hey, I had this Uber passenger the other day. He left his bag in my car and I wanted to return it.” I’ll let you make up whatever story you want, but you can kind of imagine what people will be more responsive to.

Maybe you even picked them up or dropped them off at their house or apartment building. You can go back. And I think that that is going to be super beneficial because you can go find them. That might be getting a little lucky, but a lot of people take Uber and Lyft from their apartment or from their home. So if that was one of the pickup or drop-off locations, you could definitely take advantage of that.

How to avoid situations that put your doors at risk

Ultimately this is going to be a huge hassle. You really want to try and avoid this whole situation in the first place. Rideshare insurance is something you can do to kind of help yourself.

What I would recommend is, first of all, when you’re picking up or dropping off, always try to pull over into a less trafficked, a safer area. I see so many drivers double-parking and there’s so much that can go wrong, right? Like a bike can try to squeeze by. A scooter can try to squeeze by. Find a nice safe area. Tell your passenger, “Hey, would you mind if I drop you off ahead where it’s safe?” Most passengers are going to say yes.

Do a quick check for cars, yourself. Look back, look around. Do you see any cars? Do you see any bikes coming up? Also, ask your passengers to get out on the right hand side so that they don’t open that door into oncoming traffic. At the same time, though, you still do have to watch out for those bikes or scooters because sometimes they like to squeeze in between cars, when you’re double-parked.

You could even do is maybe even get out and open the door for them. That’s one way to avoid this situation in the first place.

If you guys do run into problems with this or you have any questions, definitely don’t hesitate to leave them below in the comments. Or you can always send me an email and I’ll make sure to give you a response. Drive safe everyone!

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