Popular ride-sharing service Uber has already cracked the transportation market in 70 US cities, but Las Vegas isn’t one of them. Strict statewide taxi regulations have kept Uber, along with other ride-share services like Lyft and Sidecar, out of Las Vegas so far, but these companies aren’t content to just sit back and miss out on the potential business of the metro area’s 2 million residents and 40 million annual visitors.
In January of this year, Uber released a blog post titled “Vegas Could Win Big with Uber,” as well as an associated Twitter account (@Uber_Vegas) and the hashtag #VegasNeedsUber. In the post, Uber argues that Nevada’s taxi regulations—which mandate a one-hour minimum time limit and one-hour minimum fare of about $46—are bad for both consumers and competition.
Uber and other ride-share services certainly do offer some attractive advantages over traditional taxi cabs. For one thing, they’re more convenient: instead of having to find a taxi stand, someone who wants a ride just has to log onto the Uber app and tap to summon a nearby affiliated driver. Ride-share services also tend to be less expensive; in general, UberX’s fares are about 30-40% less than a taxi cab’s, and there’s no tipping required.
However, ride-share programs aren’t exactly the perfect transportation solution they make themselves out to be. Several disputes over liability in Uber accident cases have caused consumers, lawyers, and legislators to ask whether these services need stricter regulation.
The Issue of Insurance and Liability in Ride-Sharing
In the state of Nevada, strict regulations on taxi services require all taxi companies to do thorough background checks and carry a certain amount of insurance in the event of an accident. Because Uber considers their drivers to be partners rather than employees, they do not offer this same level of coverage. Uber claims that they thoroughly vet their partners’ driving records and require each driver to carry their own personal auto insurance, but this insurance often comes with a maximum cap that could fall short for accident victims. In some cases, a driver’s insurance company may outright refuse to pay any accident claim if the policyholder was “driving for profit.”
Uber has responded to this concern by saying that they have a $2 million insurance policy to handle any damages not covered by their partners’ insurance, but at least a dozen states have warned that there may be gaps in the ride-sharing company’s coverage. The ambiguity in the coverage provided by Uber and other ride-sharing companies leaves some people, such as a pedestrian struck by a ride-share driver or a ride-share driver hit by another vehicle while not carrying a passenger, unprotected.
Be Prepared for Ride-Share Services to Arrive in Las Vegas
Like it or not, it seems more a matter of “when” than “if” ride-share companies like Uber are going to expand into Las Vegas. Uber has already been making inroads by offering a special round trip from LA to the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas for $1,200 (the company is able to get away with this because the fare is paid in LA).
You don’t necessarily have to stay away from ride-share services when they come to Las Vegas, but you should be aware of the potential insurance gaps and keep up with ride-share company’s changing coverage policies in order to figure out whether you’ll be covered in the event of an accident. If you are injured and the company tries to claim that they’re not liable, contact an auto accident attorney in Las Vegas as soon as you can.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”-an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state-and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”