Who’s liable when an Uber driver has control of the wheel?
Discover the legal intricacies of Florida rideshare accidents, including liability, insurance requirements, and pursuing compensation. Get answers to common questions and learn why consulting an experienced Florida personal injury attorney is crucial.
Pablo Sanchez Jr. was being transported by an Uber driver after leaving a nightclub in Miami. While turning onto SW 144th Street, the Uber driver collided with another vehicle. Both vehicles rolled over and burst into flames. Pablo was unable to escape the vehicle and died at the scene.
As rideshare services like Uber and Lyft continue to grow in popularity, crashes like the one that took Pablo’s life have become more common.
In this article, we’ll explore the legal landscape surrounding Florida rideshare accidents, liability issues, and insurance requirements, as well as answer some frequently asked questions.
Rideshare vehicles are private vehicles used to provide transportation services through app-based platforms, such as Uber, Lyft, and Via.
In Florida, rideshare services have become increasingly popular, with an estimated 3.6 million active users in the state. This number is expected to continue growing as more and more people opt for the convenience and affordability of rideshare services.
Rideshare vehicles are not the same as taxis. There are three important differences:
- Operation. To use a taxi, you typically hail it down. A meter inside the taxi calculates the cost of your ride and displays the fare. Once you arrive at your destination, you pay for your ride using cash or a credit card. Rideshare vehicles, on the other hand, are “hailed” using an app. You know the cost of your ride ahead of time, and the app stores your payment information and automatically charges your card at the end of your trip.
- Ownership. Taxis are typically owned by the taxi company and leased by the driver at great expense. Rideshare drivers use their personal vehicles to transport customers.
- Regulation. Taxi companies are heavily regulated. These regulations cover things like vehicle maintenance standards, background checks, accessibility requirements, licensing requirements, and various price controls. Rideshare companies, on the other hand, aren’t regulated nearly as heavily (at least not yet).
Rideshare vehicles are regular vehicles, and rideshare drivers don’t have any particular training. As a result, rideshare accidents happen for many of the same reasons that regular car accidents happen. This includes:
For purposes of determining rideshare accident liability, there are three types of rideshare accidents:
- A passenger was injured in a rideshare vehicle during a ride.
- A passenger was injured by a rideshare driver (for example, the passenger was assaulted by the rideshare driver).
- A driver or passenger of a non-rideshare vehicle was injured in an accident with a rideshare vehicle.
Like the majority of states, Florida adopted a no-fault insurance system, which simply means the person responsible for an accident is responsible for the resulting damages. In most cases, the person responsible for a car accident is a driver, but it’s also possible that some other party is responsible, such as the vehicle manufacturer (if a defective vehicle component caused the crash) or a government entity (if a dangerous road condition caused the crash).
To prove that someone was at fault for a car accident, you typically need to prove the three elements of negligence:
- The defendant owed a duty of reasonable care (all drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid hurting others on the road),
- The defendant breached that duty (the defendant didn’t exercise reasonable care), and
- You were injured and suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s breach.
Determining fault in a rideshare accident case is just like determining fault in a regular car crash. What makes rideshare accidents a little different is the role insurance plays when the injured party seeks reimbursement from the at-fault party.
When rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft first started in the early 2000s, they didn’t provide their drivers with insurance. Instead, rideshare drivers used their own personal auto insurance policies.
Unfortunately, many rideshare drivers either didn’t have insurance or had insurance that excluded coverage when the vehicle was being used for business purposes.
In 2017, Florida passed a law imposing new insurance requirements for rideshare companies. Specifically, under Florida Statutes § 627.748, rideshare companies in Florida must maintain the following minimum insurance to protect drivers and passengers:
- When a driver is logged into the app but has not yet accepted a ride request:
- $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person,
- $100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident, and
- $25,000 for property damage.
- Once a driver accepts a ride and is engaged in a prearranged ride:
- $1 million in total liability coverage for death, bodily injury, and property damage.
It’s possible to sue a rideshare company directly, but doing so can be challenging.
Rideshare companies are considered independent contractors in Florida, which means rideshare companies typically can’t be sued under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
However, in certain cases, victims may be able to establish that the rideshare company is liable due to its negligence, such as poor driver screening, inadequate training, or failure to maintain its app or platform properly.
It's a good idea to consult with an experienced Florida car accident attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of rideshare accident cases and determine the best course of action for your specific situation.
Do you still have questions about Florida rideshare accidents? Let’s see if we can answer them.
First and foremost, ensure the safety and well-being of all involved parties. Call 911 to report the accident and request medical assistance. If it’s safe to do so, take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage and any injuries sustained. Exchange contact and insurance information with all drivers involved, including the rideshare driver. Finally, report the accident to the rideshare company through their app and consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Your personal auto insurance may provide some coverage if you’re injured in a rideshare accident, depending on your policy's terms and limits. However, the rideshare company's insurance coverage will likely be the primary source of compensation. It's important to consult with an attorney to understand your options and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Yes, rideshare drivers who are injured in accidents while logged into the app and engaged in a prearranged ride may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. In such cases, the rideshare company's insurance coverage may also come into play.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims arising from motor vehicle accidents is generally four years from the date of the accident. However, specific deadlines may apply depending on the circumstances of your case, so it's crucial to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
The amount of compensation you may receive in a rideshare accident lawsuit depends on various factors, including the severity of your injuries, the extent of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Additionally, the degree of fault attributed to each party involved in the accident may impact the amount of compensation you can recover. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide a more accurate assessment of your case's potential value.
Understanding the complexities of Florida rideshare laws is crucial for those who have been injured in a rideshare accident. Determining liability, navigating insurance coverage, and pursuing legal action can be challenging without the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney. If you or a loved one has been injured in a rideshare accident in Florida, don't hesitate to seek professional legal advice to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve.