Over the past several years, people living in or near urban centers have had a new type of transportation option available to them. Uber, Lyft and other companies have created a new alternative commonly referred to as “ridesharing”.
Through their respective smartphone apps, rideshare companies connect individuals willing to transport people (or in some cases food) from one point to another to people in need of those services. Whether you are a driver or rider, you should know your rights in the case you are involved in an accident.
In 2017, Florida Governor, Rick Scott, signed into law the current legal framework for insurance coverage relating to rideshare companies. The new law established uniform statewide insurance rules that all rideshare companies and drivers have to abide by.
If you are, or are considering becoming a driver for a rideshare company, the first thing you should be aware of is that you will not be considered an employee of the company. According to the Florida rideshare law you will be deemed an independent contractor. Apart from the tax consequences of this designation, it also means that you will not be entitled to receive worker’s compensation benefits in the event that you are injured in an accident while you are working as a driver via one of the apps.
The amount of coverage you are entitled to as a driver if you are the victim of an accident depends on what stage of the pick-up/drop-off process you are in at the time the accident occurs. The same is true if you are the victim of a rideshare driver’s negligence. While these distinctions may seem small, they have the potential to drastically affect what you may be entitled to as compensation for your losses. That’s why it’s important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to make sure your rights are protected.
Because rideshare drivers are treated as independent contractors, their personal auto insurance policies may come into play in the course of resolving a claim. Many auto insurers require that their policyholders inform them if any driver under the policy is going to be using the car for commercial purposes. Not informing your insurance company of this fact could result in your policy being rescinded and cancelled. Even if you are just a rider, your personal auto insurance will likely be used as well if you are entitled to personal injury protection coverage under another policy. Likewise, you may be entitled to recover under your own uninsured motorist coverage.
Florida’s rideshare law adds new quirks and potential pitfalls for accident victims. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to a rideshare accident and need help finding the best path forward, please contact the Guzman Firm, PLLC for more information and a free consultation.