In South Florida, it often feels like you can’t get anywhere unless you have a car. Even if you do have a car, you still have to deal with traffic and parking.
Luckily, we live in a day and age where technology has allowed us to get around easier than ever by using on-demand ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. On top of that, when we use these services we’re giving others an opportunity to work and earn money.
What happens, though, if you’re in an Uber or Lyft car and your vehicle gets into an accident, injuring you? Who is responsible? Is it the independent contractor driver? Is it the ridesharing company? Will your own car insurance – if you even have any – have to kick in?
Let’s explore the logistics of liability in Florida rideshare accidents and what you should do if you happen to be involved in one of these accidents.
The New Florida Uber/Lyft Bill Requirements
Uber and Lyft – the two most popular ridesharing companies – found a demand for their service, inserted themselves into the marketplace, and ran with it.
Ridesharing services are convenient and affordable, sure, but since they showed up on the scene, they have been largely unregulated. Taxi cabs – the original go-to service for all of your transportation needs – have a slew of regulations and requirements they have to abide by, which include background checks, safety and license checks, regular vehicle inspections, and insurance coverage.
Uber and Lyft, however, rely on independent contractors to drive, provide their own vehicle, and use their personal car insurance for liability coverage. That coverage, though, can vary from one driver to the next, and with so many people using ridesharing apps, our government felt it was necessary to start imposing statewide standards for these types of services.
In May, Governor Rick Scott signed CS/HB 221 – known as the Uber/Lyft Bill – into law. The bill is designed to make these services safer for everyone involved by making the ridesharing requirements the same throughout the state.
The new bill, which went into effect July 1, includes:
- Insurance and background-check requirements that aren’t as strict as the type of checks local governments were originally seeking;
- Uber and Lyft being allowed to operate in all Florida cities;
- Zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol;
- Equal fees for ridesharing and taxi companies; and
- Minimum insurance levels of $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 for death and bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
The insurance portion of the bill can be on the driver’s personal policy or the ridesharing company’s policy.
Both Uber and Lyft provide $1 million in coverage if a passenger ride has been accepted or a passenger is in the vehicle. There are other scenarios, though, when a driver’s own insurance might have to apply. So let’s now look at who is liable if you’re involved in an accident.
Who is Responsible for My Uber or Lyft Accident?
If you’re going to take a ridesharing service, you might want to review each service’s safety and insurance policy so you know what to do in the event of an accident.
Ridesharing companies have different policies depending on what mode the driver is in. For example, here are three scenarios someone might experience when driving or using Lyft or Uber.
- The app is off. The driver’s personal policy covers accidents.
- The app is on and in driver mode. Lyft and Uber’s contingent auto policy kicks in and includes up to $50,000 for bodily injury per person, $100,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
- The driver accepts a ride through the time a passenger is dropped off. Lyft and Uber’s auto liability and UM/UIM kicks in as well as their contingent collision and comprehensive coverage.
Because there are so many various situations someone can be in when involved in a ridesharing accident, liability claims can be complicated and confusing. You’re not only dealing with the ridesharing company’s insurance, but you might also be dealing with the driver’s personal insurance as well your own insurance company.
For this reason, it’s important to contact an experienced Florida ridesharing accident attorney who will be able to listen to the details of your case and determine whether you’re entitled to compensation for any injuries suffered as a result of a ridesharing accident. If someone else is responsible for your injuries, fight for justice and for what you deserve.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017