This past week, a Florida family announced it had filed a lawsuit against Uber and one of its drivers after a college student was killed in an Uber car accident in Miami in the final days of 2015. This case, as well as a string of other claims from injured passengers across the country, has shone a spotlight on Uber and its drivers.
Uber is a ride sharing service, much life Lyft and Sidecar. You can use your phone app to call for a car when you need one, and the service costs a fraction of what taxis cost because the drivers are not professionals – they’re simply car owners. Uber drivers and other ride-share drivers are contractors, not employees the way taxi drivers are.
Ride-share services such as Lyft and Uber have faced a number of challenges. Taxi companies in Florida have protested the introduction of these services in Florida, claiming that the lack of professional, trained drivers will mean an increase in car accidents in Hollywood and other communities while the services hurt local cab companies. Despite the protests, however, the ride share services have been permitted in Florida.
Do you have a claim?
Uber has a $1 million liability insurance policy for each driver. If you suffer a head injury, fracture, or any other car accident injury, you expect that this policy would help you. In fact, however, there are a few barriers to filing an insurance claim when you are in an Uber or ride-share car accident:
1) Drivers are contractors. If you’re in a taxi accident in Hollywood or South Florida, the taxi driver is an employee of the cab company, usually, and the company is responsible for their employee’s actions. The fact that drivers are contractors lets ride-share services get extra protections and distance if one of their drivers assaults a passenger or causes an accident.
2) The industry is unregulated. If you’re in a tax accident, the taxi industry is regulated and monitored, so there are rules requiring the company to pay some compensation for your injuries. Since ride-share is a new industry, insurance companies are still working out the rules as to what needs to be paid and when in the event of an assault or injury.
3) The drivers may be underinsured. Each ride-share driver with can usually use their own car insurance policy to cover their passengers. The problem is that many policies explicitly state they do not cover any costs and injuries associated with ride-sharing, which leaves you without coverage. If you’re a driver yourself, you may be able to get coverage from your own policy if you’re injured, but that’s not guaranteed and if you don’t drive this may not be an option. And while Uber claims it has a high liability policy for each driver, that coverage may not cover medical bills or other costs.
What to do when ride-share goes wrong
If you are assaulted or robbed by a Lyft, Uber, or other ride-share driver or if you’re in an accident while using this type of service, get medical help and contact the police right away. In addition, get legal advice. Since this is a new industry, you will generally need assistance in seeking compensation for your injuries and you don’t want to get less than you deserve due to complex and still-developing regulations.
If you’d like to speak to an attorney now, contact Flaxman Law Group. The attorneys at our law firm have more than 60 years of combined experience and have handled thousands of car accident, taxi accident, and personal injury cases. We’re happy to offer a free consultation if you’ve been injured so you can get some personalized legal advice about your situation.