Why are Ridesharing Accidents Rising in Florida?
Ridesharing accidents are on the rides in busy cities like South Florida. Rideshareing cuts down on cars on the road, is relatively inexpensive, and convenient. However, it comes its own set of risks. Within this writeup, we’re providing our ridesharing readers the information necessary should they find themselves in an accident. We’ll also provide important information rideshare “driver-partners” need to know when transporting passengers.
This writeup answers the following important questions:
- What requirements have recently changed in ridesharing?
- What requirements have stayed the same in ridesharing?
- How are ridesharing services being held more accountable?
- Do ridesharing passengers have rights?
- What do those using a ridesharing service need to remember?
What requirements have recently changed?
First of all, Uber is not the traditional taxi service in any sense of the word. However, that’s why many riders swear by the service. One of the things passengers love about ridesharing apps is that “driver-partners” use their own vehicles to transport them. This provides the comfort of a clean, private vehicle. Thus, it differs from a taxi service that may not provide the cleanliness or safety passengers are looking for.
The DMV last updated their driver-partner requirements in April of 2018. Although state DMVs specify Uber, it’s safe to assume the requirements cover Lyft, too.
As we now know, using one’s own vehicle has its own rules and regulations that must be met before a driver-partner transports passengers. While Uber employs its drivers, it’s the driver’s sole responsibility to maintain their vehicle. Driver-partners must uphold Uber’s requirements for the duration of their employment. Drivers should also be aware that these requirements may change at any time as the ridesharing services see fit.
What requirements have stayed the same across rideshare?
As of our first ridesharing writeup in April 2018, there were basic requirements that still remain the same at the time of this December 2019 publication. They are as follows: the 21-years-old age requirement and a minimum of (1) one year of driving experience. These requirements remain permanently in place and are there to maintain the safety of both driver-partners and the riders who need to get where they’re going safely.
Uber stipulates that if a potential driver is under the age of 23 they must have at least (3) three years of driving experience. There is no exception to this rule as of this writeup, and again, the regulation was put in place specifically to protect both the driver-partner and rider from reckless or inexperienced drivers who may be the cause of a serious accident (due to lack of experience that comes with the length time behind the wheel) that results in bodily injury or wrongful death.
How are these services being held more accountable?
Furthermore, due to the rise in ridesharing related accidents, Uber now enforces new rules that hold every driver-partner accountable for themselves. This means they’re responsible for their vehicle, insurance, and their conduct. Ridesharing criteria doesn’t change much across platforms. Thus, the following are requirements to drive for both Uber and Lyft as of December 2019:
- A social security number
- Car insurance in the driver’s name. This means the driver cannot be a secondary party on someone else’s policy. Uber drivers must be the policyholder of their own insurance.
Uber is up front when it comes to their requirements for drivers. Drivers have always been expected to maintain clean, safe driving records. They cannot have prior criminal history upon potential employment. These standards apply to both Uber and Lyft. Drivers are subject to a full and thorough background check upon application to drive for the service.
Driver-partner background checks include the following:
- Any history of DUI must be reported. Uber will find these charges on the background check they perform and a driver is disqualified from employment if they sustained a DUI charge.
- History of vehicle insurance. Drivers must maintain an insurance policy in their name and keep it up to date with no discrepancies.
- Instances of suspended licensure.
- Criminal record. Certain criminal charges automatically disqualify applicants from driving for Uber, Lyft, and any other ridesharing services.
- Charges of reckless driving or traffic violations may disqualify drivers for a period of time. Or permanently. However, as with the rest of the requirements subject to background check, Ridesharing services make decisions on a driver by driver basis. This is in order to maintain the safety of passengers who ride with them.
Do rideshare passengers have rights?
Yes. There are several things passengers must do after sustaining injuries in a ridesharing accident:
- Take note of any witnesses. Exchange contact information with them. This will be necessary after retaining a lawyer to represent the case. Having this information ready will save time in the long run.
- Take screenshots. Document everything in the Uber app. This could mean the time of ride, destination, and receipt of payment. Write down the driver’s name and license plate number.
- Seek Personal Injury representation as quickly as possible post accident. Accidents with bodily injury incur lost wages and medical bills that require adequate compensation.
What are “independent contractors” when it comes to ridesharing?
Next, let’s look briefly at the topic of independent contractors.
Because ridesharing driver-partners are considered “independent contractors”, there are certain things that riders need to know. Should the situation arise where passengers find themselves in accident in which they sustain injuries, the following paragraph is apt.
Time’s Can I Sue Uber? article explains in part:
[…]It turns out, if you’re ever in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, you likely won’t sue the ride-sharing company outright, according to multiple lawyers. Drivers are technically independent contractors, not employees, meaning the company can deny liability for crashes involving their drivers (and have done so in the past, most notoriously when a driver hit and killed a six-year old in San Francisco in 2014).
Ridesharing technology is relative new. Thus, one of the things a lawyer will do upon accepting a case against a ridesharing service is issue Preservation of Evidence Letters to opposing parties. This letter, also known as a Spoliation Letter, is a legal means of preserving evidence integral to an accident. It keeps the driver from destroying or discarding evidence directly related to the accident indefinitely.
What is a spoliation letter?
“[…]A spoliation letter is a notice sent to an opposing party in an accident requesting it preserve all relevant evidence. It may even mention specific evidence to preserve, such as a vehicle involved in an auto accident.”
Also, after an accident in which the ridesharing driver was at fault, passengers must a lawyer with Board Certification. This will be a lawyer capable of understanding the ever changing world of ridesharing laws. A cardiologist cannot perform brain surgery, and a lawyer who lacks Board Certification should not be trusted with a ridesharing case.
It’s in the client’s best interest to get as far away as possible from law firms that do not employ Board Certified lawyers. A law degree alone does not signify the lawyer knows the nuances with which to handle litigation against a multi-billion dollar company like Uber.
What do passengers using rideshare services need to remember?
Lastly, it’s important for passengers to remember the following should they sustain injuries in a rideshare accident:
- Take notes, exchange information with witnesses on the scene!
- It’s tempting to remove all trace of a bad situation. Wait to do so. Don’t delete the Uber app no matter how upsetting the accident may be. A lawyer will need receipts and the exact date and time of the accident. These things can only be found directly in ridesharing apps.
- Retain a lawyer with Board Certification and don’t settle for less.
Finally, always be honest and credible when discussing the case with a lawyer!