Taxi-cabs may be a thing of the past. Companies such as Uber and Lyft offer people seeking a ride the ease of opening an app on their phone and securing a ride with a few clicks on their phone. The people providing these rides are often regular drivers who are looking to make some extra cash on their time off. They rarely have commercial driver’s licenses, and they are not required to get any special training before they can accept customers.
While convenient for many, this new model presents several legal issues if someone is struck by an Uber or Lyft driver. Whether the driver has a customer in the car may determine the level of assistance that the company will be willing to provide to the driver, and in turn to anyone hurt by the driver’s negligence.
The way the new model of ride-sharing works is that drivers can roam around waiting for fares to pop up on their smart phones. According to one article analyzing the potential legal implications, the process breaks down into three steps. First, the driver turns on the app and looks for a passenger. Second, the app matches the driver and the passenger. And third, the driver picks up the passenger and takes them to their destination. In the latter two stages, Uber or Lyft will likely cover the driver if anything goes wrong. However, if an accident occurs while a driver is roaming and waiting for a fare to come in, the company may deny any involvement.
Another potential issue with the new model is that the drivers are technically independent contractors, rather than employees. This means that Uber or Lyft can distance themselves from the conduct of their drivers, should the companies choose to do so. In fact, drivers are currently involved in disputes with the company over whether they should be classified as employees. This may have an effect on the legal landscape as well.
Some insurance companies are creating policies just for Uber and Lyft drivers, in hopes of eliminating some of this uncertainty. However, at the moment there is no regulation requiring the drivers to seek out and obtain this additional insurance. The bottom line is that the new model of securing private rides is still new, and the courts have yet to figure out all the details of who may be liable and in which situations. Therefore, if you have been involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, you should seek out an experienced personal injury attorney.
Have You Been Injured by an Uber or Lyft Driver?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all you have been through. However, the legal landscape of these claims is far from settled. Therefore, it is important that you have an experienced attorney to help you navigate this area of the law, and also to help you negotiate with all parties involved. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation with a personal injury attorney at the Maryland and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. With decades of experience litigating cutting edge issues in personal injury law, you can rest assured that the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen will effectively represent you in your claim.
More Blog Posts:
Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published April 4, 2016.
Auto Manufacturers Seek Help from Insurance Companies to Increase Compliance with Safety Recalls, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published April 18, 2016.