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Avoiding the Dangers of Florida Ride Sharing Accidents

Avoiding the Dangers of Florida Ride Sharing Accidents

Within this Shaked Law Firm Blog article, we’re providing our ride sharing readers the information necessary to avoid the dangers of Florida ride sharing accidents. We’ll also provide important information ride sharing contractors need to know when, and even before, transporting passengers.

Ride sharing questions this article answers:

  • What requirements are changing in ride sharing?
  • What regulations are the same in ride sharing?
  • How are ride sharing services liable and accountable?
  • Do those using ride sharing services (Uber and Lyft) have rights?
  • What do those using a ride sharing service need to remember?

What requirements are changing in ride sharing?

Back in April of 2018, the DMV requirements for those who wish to drive for ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft were changing. Although Florida DMVs specify Uber in these updates for the service, we now know that one must meet similar regulations for Lyft, too.

As you know, Uber is not the traditional taxi service in any sense of the word. However, that’s why many Floridians swear by it. One of the things riders love about ride sharing apps, is that “driver-partners” use their own vehicles to take passengers where they need to go. This provides the comfort of a clean, private vehicle instead of a taxi service. In 2021, it’s the cleanliness of the transportation that keeps ride sharing businesses booming.

As we now know, using one’s own vehicle for commercial purposes has its own set of rules and regulations. While Uber employs “partners”, it’s the partner’s sole responsibility to maintain the vehicle. This mean it must continue meeting regulations laid out by the service. Drivers should also be aware that these requirements can change at any time. The ride sharing services may see fit to change the regulations in an effort to ensure passenger safety.

What regulations are staying the same in ride sharing?

As of April 2018, the basic regulations of ride sharing driving remain the same now, in this April 2021 publication. The 21-years-old age requirement and minimum of (1) one year of driving experience. These requirements are permanently in place and are there to maintain the safety of both drivers and their passengers.

Uber has a specific stipulation: “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 2021. The regulation was put in place specifically to protect both driver-partner and passenger from any drivers who may be the cause of a serious accident (recklessness or lack of experience.)

How are ride sharing services liable and accountable?

Due to the rise in ride sharing accidents, Uber began enforcing new rules to hold every contractor of the service accountable for their own car. This equates to abiding by the rules of the road, maintaining license and registration, and vehicle maintenance. In April 2018, the following criteria was issued and as of 2021:

  • A social security number
  • Valid driver’s license with no current or previous suspensions.
  • Car insurance in the driver’s name (the driver may not be a secondary party on someone else’s policy. Specifically, Uber drivers must be the primary beneficiary of their own insurance)

Is there a ride sharing partner background check?

Yes. Drivers are subject to a full and thorough background checks upon application to drive for the service. Uber is up front when it comes to their regulations. It’s an expectation that partners maintain clean, safe driving records. No prior criminal history. Background checks as of 2019 require the following (see below) and there are no changes to report.

  1. Any history of DUI requires reporting. DUI is an immediate disqualification from driving for any ride sharing service.
  2. History of auto insurance. Drivers also must report any instances where the driver was lacking coverage. Though, this does not necessarily disqualify the driver. They must maintain an insurance policy prior to hire and keep it up to date with no other discrepancies.
  3. Instances of suspended licensure.
  4. Criminal record. Certain criminal charges automatically disqualify applicants from any ride sharing services. This includes the DUI regulation above.
  5. Charges of reckless driving or traffic violations. Some violations may disqualify drivers for a period of time. However, as with the rest of the regulations subject to background check, ride sharing services make decisions on a driver by driver basis. A traffic ticket may not be grounds for immediate disqualification, but a hit and run surely is!

Do those using ride sharing services (Uber and Lyft) have rights?

Passengers using ride sharing services always have rights. Never let the insurance companies convince you otherwise! However, in the event of an auto accident in an Uber or Lyft car, there are several things passengers must do:

  1. 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.
  2. Take screenshots of the Uber app that notes the time of the ride, the destination, and the receipt of payment. Write down the Uber driver’s name and license plate number.
  3. Seek Personal Injury representation as quickly as possible after becoming injured; accidents with bodily injury incur lost wages and medical bills.

How do independent contractors change the laws for ride sharing passengers?

Ride sharing drivers are “independent contractors” (self employment). Thus, there are certain things passengers need to know, should a situation arise where they find themselves in an auto accident sustaining injuries.

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).

The complex nature of these accidents derives from the relatively new technology that goes into the companies’ business models. It’s because of this legal complexity, a Florida ride sharing lawyer will, upon accepting a case against Uber or Lyft, is issue Preservation of Evidence Letters. This letter, (may be also be a “Spoliation Letter”), is a legal means of preserving evidence integral to the accident. It keeps the defense from destroying or discarding evidence in relation to the accident.

This evidence can be dash cam footage, photos on a cell phone, traffic cameras, etc.

What is the legal definition of spoliation (Preservation of Evidence) 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.”

That being said, after an accident in which the ride share was at fault, passengers must, in a timely manner, seek a board certified lawyer capable of understanding the ever changing world of ride sharing laws. A cardiologist cannot perform brain surgery, and a lawyer who is not board certified should not be trusted with an Uber or Lyft related 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. Think of it this way: smart patients will never see a doctor lacking licensure, clients should never settle for an attorney who lacks this distinction. A law degree does not signify the attorney has any experience to properly litigate something as complex as a ride sharing accident.

Those using a ride sharing service should remember…

  • Take notes, exchange information with witnesses once police arrive.
  • Don’t delete the ride sharing app in question no matter how upsetting the accident may be. Lawyers require receipts and the exact date and time of the accident. Yes, down to the minute!
  • Always be honest, never exaggerate, and remain credible when consulting with a lawyer!

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