Consumers Need To Be “Uber” Careful With New Ride-Sharing Apps
People looking for a convenient and inexpensive ride from one place to another might get more (or less, really) then they bargained for if they use one of the new ride-sharing applications like Uber or Lyft.
Uber and Lyft are only two examples of a growing ride-share industry. Ride-sharing essentially works like this: smart phone applications pair people who need rides with people who have cars and want to make some extra money providing rides. The idea seems elegantly simple, and oh-so-free market.
First, unlike the taxi cab industry that is regulated by the State and most local governments, there really is no regulation of ride-sharing applications. There are no basic requirements for the training or licensing of drivers, rates or fares that consumers can be charged, and no rules against discrimination.
Second, and most important to me as an Orlando accident attorney, there is no requirement that Uber or Lyft drivers carry any minimum level of liability insurance. In fact, because of a provision contained in most Florida automobile insurance policies, most of the drivers and cars utilized by Uber or Lyft will have no liability coverage at all — in the event that an Uber driver causes an accident or injuries to his passenger (or anyone else.)
In Florida, most personal automobile insurance policies state that no coverage will be provided to an injured person if the insured vehicle is being used for any kind of commercial purpose. Since Uber and Lyft obviously involve drivers making money, it would be difficult to argue that there is no commercial purpose.
For example, if you are riding along in a vehicle that you found via Uber, and the driver of the vehicle runs a red light and causes a major crash, it is very likely you will have no recourse against the driver (or Uber). This can obviously have devastating consequences. Until or unless the law changes, consumers are probably better off just calling a cab the old-fashioned way.
If you have any questions regarding a Florida car accident, and especially one involving an Uber or Lyft driver or vehicle, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901.