The popularity of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft has skyrocketed in the last five years. A few simple operations on a cell phone and a vehicle appears ready to take users anywhere they want to go.
There are significant differences between the operations of traditional taxi companies and ridesharing enterprises. While taxis are heavily regulated, ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber are not subject to such regulation. These companies do not train drivers and only in the recent past did they start conducting background checks of drivers. Ride-sharing companies claim they are not a transportation service in itself and, instead, believe that they simply connect buyers (passengers) with sellers (drivers) like eBay or Amazon.
Another important and noteworthy difference is establishing liability for any accidents that occur during a trip or excursion. Because ridesharing services are relatively new, lawmakers have not yet formulated the legislation necessary to address the issues relative to liability. Unlike taxi drivers, ride-sharing drivers are typically not legally required to carry a certain type of insurance policy to provide coverage for injuries suffered in any accident.
Generally, passengers injured in a taxi sue both the cab driver and the taxi company; the latter under a theory of respondeat superior, i.e., a principal is generally liable for the acts of its agent while acting on behalf of the principal. In contrast, passengers injured using a ride-sharing service sue the driver rather than the company because these drivers are considered independent contractors by the ride-sharing company. Employers are only vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, not for the actions of independent contractors. Because of this distinction, ride-sharing services have shifted liability from the company to the driver in many cases.
Uber maintains insurance for its drivers with total coverage of $1 million for bodily injury. This coverage generally applies in three circumstances:
Establishing liability of all responsible parties in a ride-sharing accident may be a complicated proposition. If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury resulting from a ride-sharing accident, or any other type of accident, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. Our decades of experience make us the clear and obvious choice for all types of legal representation in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win. Our attorneys, past and present, have represented motor vehicle accident victims for 113 years. Call today!