In Florida, Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services are becoming an increasingly popular means for getting around. They provide a convenient, easy to use and inexpensive way to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, as ridership increases, so do the number of accidents involving rideshare vehicles.
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are new types of businesses that are still largely unregulated at the federal, state and local level. What happens if you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle and are injured in an accident? Do you have any legal options for seeking compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of this accident? In most auto accidents, the insurance of the party who is at fault covers the damages. However, things aren’t so simple when it comes to settling rideshare accident cases.
The Rideshare Driver’s Responsibilities
While rideshare companies like Uber provide a service similar to taxi cabs, they aren’t regulated in the same way. Rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors or “licensees”. The vehicles are owned, operated and maintained by the driver. They are not subjected to the same rules and safety regulations that taxi and limo companies are. In Florida, the requirements for operating a rideshare vehicle are pretty basic: you must have a valid Florida driver’s license; you must submit a copy of your Florida vehicle registration and have personal vehicle insurance issued in Florida.
Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law CS/HB 221, also known as the “Uber/Lyft Bill.” This legislation is designed to make the requirements for ride-sharing services uniform throughout the state. Among other things, it requires insurance coverage of $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage, as well as background checks for drivers.
If the driver is at fault in an accident, you should file a claim with his insurance company. Keep in mind that many personal auto insurance policies only cover the driver when he using his car for personal uses, not business.
The Rideshare Company’s Responsibilities
Under certain circumstances, an injured passenger may be able to recover damages from the rideshare company that the driver has contracted with. While some companies, such as Uber, offer up to $1 million dollars in coverage for accidents involving underinsured or uninsured drivers, filing a claim with them may be difficult. Rideshare companies are notorious for refusing to accept liability for the actions of their drivers. That’s because they consider them to be independent contractors, not employees. They often will only accept responsibility for accidents that occur when the driver is transporting a fare. If a rideshare driver hits your car while between fares, the ride share company usually will not accept any responsibility.
Speak With a Rideshare Accident Attorney
The laws and legal issues relating to rideshare services in Florida continue to evolve. If you have been injured in a rideshare car accident in Winter Haven, Lutz, Lakeland or other Central Florida community, you need the services of a personal injury attorney who knows how to get results in even the most complicated auto accident cases.
Tanya L. Rivas and the Rivas Law Group possess years of experience helping clients injured in all kinds of car accidents in Florida. We diligently follow the legal developments pertaining to the rideshare app industry and are more than prepared to handle any car accident case involving an Uber, Lyft or other rideshare service. Call us at (877) 299-5539 to schedule a free consultation with one of our rideshare accident lawyers.