Ride sharing services have become a popular mode of transportation today. In fact, 36 percent of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center said they have used some type of rideshare service, such as Uber or Lyft. However, the role that they play in auto accident cases is still being determined. Liability is a bit more complex, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Rideshare companies essentially provide driver-for-hire services to consumers in a manner very similar to taxi services. However, unlike taxis, they use freelance drivers who use their own personal vehicles to transport passengers. Rideshare services are booked through a smartphone app with the customer’s card that is stored on the app and will be automatically charged after the rider arrives at his or her destination.
While rideshare services are more convenient and cheaper than traditional taxi service or personal transportation, concerns have been expressed regarding their safety. Crimes, involving sexual assaults have been reported by individuals who have used these services, along with an increase in auto accidents.
If you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle and involved in an auto accident, the question of liability and who is responsible for your injuries and damages depends on who was at fault for the accident. To prove that either the rideshare driver or the other vehicle’s driver is at fault means you, as the injured party, must prove that the person who caused the accident was negligent. Negligence requires proof of the following elements:
- The person who caused the accident owed a duty of reasonable care to operate his or her vehicle safely and follow all traffic laws;
- The person who caused the accident breached that duty, meaning he or she failed to obey a traffic law or did not drive safely and carefully;
- The passenger was injured and suffered damage as a result.
Keep in mind, that Florida is a no-fault insurance state. Florida law requires injured parties to first seek compensation from their own insurance company regardless of who was at-fault for the accident. Coverage of $10,000 for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is required, but if your injuries surpass that level of damage, which can be easy to do given how expensive medical care can be, the injured party can seek payment from the negligent party’s insurance.
If the rideshare driver was at-fault for the accident and your injuries meet or exceed the state standard for “serious injury,” you, as the injured passenger/customer can file a claim against the rideshare company’s $1 million liability insurance coverage. Florida law views serious injuries as those that are permanent, involve significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or significant and permanent loss of a bodily function. Florida law requires rideshare drivers, specifically Uber, to carry $1 million in insurance to cover these exact types of accidents, covering both the driver and passengers who may be injured in a rideshare auto accident.