Uber and Lyft have quickly become extremely popular ways to get around town, whether for running errands, heading to the airport, or getting home safely after a few drinks with friends. Still, while these rideshare arrangements offer a number of benefits, they are not without drawbacks. There is always the risk of being involved in a car accident any time you hop into a vehicle, and there are interesting liability issues when an incident occurs during an Uber or Lyft ride. Effective July 1, 2017, state law does regulate these firms as “transportation network companies” (TNC), and the statute does offer some protections for passengers who may be injured in a rideshare accident in Florida. Here are answers to a few of the more common questions victims ask personal injury attorneys.
Should I Sue a Rideshare Driver for Damages?
In most auto collision cases, you would typically file a claim for losses with the insurance company covering the responsible driver. The same is true when you contract through Uber or Lyft for a ride, because these drivers are independent contractors and not employees of the rideshare company. Florida law requires a TNC driver to maintain auto insurance in the following amounts when engaged in a prearranged ride:
- $1 million for death, bodily injury, and property damage;
- Uninsured and underinsured vehicle coverage pursuant to F.S. 627.27.727;
- Personal injury protection coverage that meets the minimum amount required for a limousine service.
These coverage requirements can be satisfied through the TNC driver’s insurance company, the TNC, or a combination of the two. Where the TNC driver alone obtains the mandatory insurance coverage, and your losses fall within the designated amounts, you would file your claim with the driver.
When Should I File a Claim with Uber or Lyft After a Car Crash?
Your claim becomes more complex if the TNC driver does not maintain adequate insurance coverage to compensate you for your losses. The arrangement between the driver and the TNC is not a typical employer-employee relationship: The driver is an independent contractor, so the concept of respondeat superior that would normally allow you to sue the TNC directly, does not apply.
Florida’s law regulating TNC’s was enacted to address these situations. As mentioned, the coverage amounts are the responsibility of the TNC driver, the TNC, or both. The statute goes on to provide:
- Where the driver does not meet the insurance requirements, either because of a lapse or insufficient coverage, the TNC must provide coverage;
- The responsibilities of the TNC kick in with the first dollar of the claim, so you do not need to exhaust your options with the driver before pursuing the rideshare company;
- The TNC is legally required to defend the claim, which means the company cannot shirk its responsibilities by asserting that the driver was at fault.
How Should I File a Claim After an Uber or Lyft Car Accident?
Your first step to filing a claim for injuries in an Uber or Lyft vehicle collision should be to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. The liability concepts are complex and the statute contains many legal nuances. You are at a disadvantage when up against the insurance companies for the driver and TNC, which will vigorously defend their interests. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please contact the Ocala, FL office of Piccin & Glynn, Attorneys at Law at 352-558-8480.