Worldwide Questions Have Local Impact
Ever used Uber and wondered if the driver was covered by liability insurance? I did yesterday in Dallas (as I needed a ride to and from the Dallas Marathon which I was running) and the drivers admitted that they were not covered. Luckily, we were not involved in any collisions.
Finally Uber and other pseudo-cab companies are catching flak from governments across the globe. Just this week, Spain, Thailand, the Netherlands and the Delhi region of India suspended its services. Earlier in the year, the cities of Brussels, Rio de Janeiro and Seoul banned the company from operating and Germany issued a countrywide moratorium. U.S. municipalities and state governments are also taking action, with ride sharing regulatory bills introduced and squashed in Washington, Oklahoma, Maryland, Georgia and Florida, and passed in Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Missouri and Tennessee, among other states. Ordinances have also been considered in various cities throughout the United States, including in Texas in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
Some lawmakers cite concerns about unfair competition by the unregulated transportation networking companies (TNCs) — such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar — within the otherwise highly-regulated taxi industry. More importantly, numerous incidents have highlighted security lapses and insurance coverage gaps within the unregulated TNC model.
Wrongful Death Case Could Set Precedent in Ridesharing Liability
A six year-old child was killed in a tragic automobile accident
in San Francisco last New Year’s Eve. Her four year-old brother and
mother were injured in the crash. The family was crossing the street in a designated crosswalk when Uber driver Syed Muzaffar ran into them. He
had just dropped off his fare and was on his way to pick up another
passenger. He was charged this week with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
The parents sued Mr. Muzaffar and Uber for wrongful death early this
year. However, Uber claims that, because no passengers were in his car
at the time, he was not considered on-duty and, hence, the company is
not liable for damages related to the accident.
Is Uber a Tech Company or a Transportation Company?
Whether Uber is liable
for injuries caused by its drivers hinges on how the drivers are
actually classified. Uber bills itself as a technology company that runs a portal by which drivers and passengers connect. As such, the company
claims its drivers are independent contractors responsible for their own “business.” The company has increased its insurance coverage of its
drivers, mainly because of pressure from legislators. However, Uber
continues to deny responsibility for drivers travelling between fares —
as Syed Muzaffar was doing when he killed the little girl. Ridesharing
drivers often do not carry commercial auto insurance, but may instead
only have the minimum amount of auto insurance coverage.
Cab and limousine drivers, on the other hand, are required to be
covered by a commercial auto insurance policy. Just as these other taxi
services are required to maintain a blanket policy, so should Uber,
Lyft, Sidecar and other ridesharing services. Texas lawmakers should
require at least the same background checks and insurance coverage as
other transportation services that operate in our state.
If you were injured by Uber, Lyft or Sidecar, Bill Berenson can help you recover
As a Texas Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer with 35 years of
experience, I have the skills and resources to take on the most
challenging auto accident cases. If a ridesharing driver caused you
injuries, call Berenson Law Firm at 817-885-8000. Your claim evaluation is free.