Uber and Lyft (the latest "car and driver for hire" businesses) have quickly made ridesharing the preferred mode of transportation over taxi cabs and shuttles. However, when it comes to operating a vehicle on our local roadways, rideshare drivers are subject to being involved in accidents too. This has left victims injured in a rideshare collision suddenly faced with new legal challenges.
Liability issues following any auto accident are usually more complex than you might think. Unraveling an accident with damages following a collision where a ridesharing driver is involved is outright confusing. In May of this year, Governor Rick Scott signed the Uber/Lyft Bill into Florida law. The legislation is designed to make ridesharing services safer for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and others. It establishes the basics for rideshare operations, pricing, legal requirements, and insurance coverage.
Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as independent contractors and not employees. Although this helps to reduce some of the company's risk, it does not fully protect them from legal actions. There are similar liability situations in other industries where independent contractors are used. But, to make matters even more complicated, each rideshare driver has multiple classifications that include:
- Online using the Uber or Lyft app with a passenger
- Online using the app but headed to pick up a passenger
- Offline alone in the vehicle
- Offline with a non-contracted passenger
- Between passengers but online
- Between passengers but offline
There are so many situations where someone can be involved in an accident that determining who is liable and how many insurance carriers might be named in a liability lawsuit is not a simple answer. In some situations, it may be the driver's personal car insurance policy. However, some insurance policies don't cover a personal vehicle being used for commercial purposes.
So, what happens when you're in the vehicle that was hit by a rideshare driver? What happens if you were a cyclist or pedestrian? Can a rideshare accident be covered under your PIP (personal injury protection) coverage? Since every scenario has to be considered along with the driver's rideshare classification, it's prudent to seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible following your involvement in a rideshare accident. At Schackow & Mercadante, our personal injury attorneys have the experience and expertise to review your claim and recommend the most appropriate legal actions for you to consider.