Ride sharing is a new transportation network service that appears to offer benefits to both drivers and passengers, but there are some serious questions with regard to liability and insurance coverage. In California, this problem was recently addressed when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new bill, AB2293, in September 2014. The bill attempts to clarify a variety of insurance-related issues that apply to people who work for or use services provided by new charter-party carrier companies like Uber, Lyft or Sidecar.
California Ride Sharing Accident Attorney
Even with the new legislation in place, people who have been involved in accidents that occurred during ride sharing need competent representation by an experienced California Ride Sharing Attorney. This matter is highly controversial and has many issues that apply to both drivers and passengers. The main problem in this type of accident is disputes over who is covered by what type of insurance and whether or not there is any coverage at all.
Drivers want to make money driving, but are not actually employees of these companies, unlike taxi cab drivers. They use their own vehicles and are reimbursed plus paid by the companies. Their vehicles are not insured by the company; each driver is supposed to have adequate insurance coverage. Unfortunately, their insurance many not extend to you as a passenger. If you are considering using these ride share services, it is wise to consult with your attorney to make sure you understand the risks and have adequate insurance coverage you might need if you are in an accident during transportation.
California Ride Sharing Accidents
The problem primarily involves insurance coverage and driver or user responsibilities. The first thing to consider is cost. These ride sharing companies are trying to provide a cost-efficient service to users as well as employment for independent contractor drivers. By using independent contractors, they keep their insurance costs lowest. Money is the factor to look at first, but liability is equally important.
- Commercial insurance coverage costs 10 times regular insurance, which is why the drivers are reluctant to purchase it. The companies keep costs low by providing only a general type of coverage as required by the state, but that leaves many other compensation issues not covered.
- Drivers do not want to, or cannot afford to, purchase commercial insurance.
Passengers in general are unaware of these insurance problems; their own insurance needs to be sufficient to cover any expenses that are not included in company or driver insurance.
Liability is a frequently contested issue when there are ride sharing accidents. Even with the broad coverage provided by the company involved, drivers must carry their own insurance. Passengers also should have their own coverage, in case the other insurances do not cover certain expenses. When there is an accident, liability must be assigned to one or more involved parties. Companies take the stance that the drivers are independent contractors and therefore need to provide their own liability insurance. Another question that affects liability is whether or not the driver was actually logged in and performing duties for the company at the time of the accident.
Insurance companies will argue to keep payments as low as possible or to avoid paying anything. The broad insurance provided is limited, while accident expenses could be far greater. If there is an uninsured driver that caused an accident, some insurance policies will not cover those damage claims. Passengers most likely do not even realize they are at risk for lack of insurance coverage when they use ride sharing. Unscrupulous drivers may not even have insurance, and if the ride share company does not do a thorough background check, they also are at risk for liability if drivers commit crimes like assaulting passengers.
Ride Sharing Accidents – What to Do
- First, seek medical aid and assistance if needed.
- Get information about the driver, their ride sharing company and all insurance companies.
- Compile all your accident claim records and expenses – medical, repair, future expense estimates and other costs like work loss.
- Contact your trusted California Personal Injury Attorney for a consultation.
Personal Injury Compensation
- Basic Information is needed. Include all police and medical reports, contact information and insurance company policy numbers. Include additional expenses like income losses and repairs.
- Negligence is an important factor in Personal Injury lawsuits. Your attorney can research this and examine all evidence to determine which party or parties are liable due to negligent behavior.
- Fault also must be established even in a no-fault state. If the car you were in was hit by another driver, their insurance company may be the one to pay. If you were partially at fault, your award may be reduced by a percentage.
Ride sharing services have many benefits, but also present problems to all parties. If you use your own car as a driver, but do not let your insurance company know you are using it for commercial purposes, you could risk punishment or face prosecution for misrepresentation.
For all parties who want to enjoy ride sharing services, as a company owner, driver or passenger, looking at insurance coverage and liability issues is essential. Under the new bill, AB 2293, insurance coverage is required for ride share companies and drivers. They must carry coverage up to $50,000 for single passenger injuries and $100,000 for all other occupants. An optional additional amount of coverage up to $200,000 is also available if victims suffer more serious injuries. This legislation was opposed by taxi fleet owners and drivers on the ground that they are being unfairly disadvantaged in competition.
If you are a driver or passenger using ride sharing services, it is important that you look into the insurance coverage you have or need, as well as your responsibilities as a driver or passenger with regard to liability. Don’t wait until you are in an accident to deal with this issue. Contact your trusted California Personal lnjury Attorney today.