Issues Regarding Insurance and Licensing Have Politicians Busy Deciding Their Future
It seems everyone these days is doing the Uber. Using Uber saves money over traditional taxi cabs and the service offers an opportunity to people with a car to make extra money. A win-win for everyone, right?
That’s not entirely accurate. Several issues have arisen over the past few years as Uber has grown from an idea to a multi-billion dollar enterprise in just 7 years.
Uber Technologies Inc. is an American multinational online transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. As of April 12, 2016, the service was available in over 60 countries and 404 cities worldwide. Since Uber’s launch, several other companies have copied its business model, a trend that has come to be referred to as “Uberification.”
In Florida, state, county, and municipal governments are challenging Uber’s right to operate due to unfair competition with traditional taxi companies, who must be licensed. Another big issue is insurance, and that is the main topic for this article.
Florida Auto Liability Insurance
The minimum requirement for auto insurance in Florida for a personal vehicle is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL). If you have been in a crash or convicted of certain offenses, the Florida DMV can request you purchase additional auto insurance coverage such as bodily injury liability coverage (BIL).
A taxi must carry Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage of $125,000 per person, $250,000 per occurrence and $50,000 for property damage liability (PDL) coverage.
An Uber driver must do what? This is where it gets murky.
Broward County commissioners have been up, down, and all around when trying to get a permanent solution to ride-share services regulation. The Sun-Sentinel reported that the last time commissioners tried to regulate Uber, they got “Ubered” — the new word for politically clobbered — for going after laws that Uber called too onerous. The result is that in Broward, Uber is now largely free to police itself concerning drivers’ backgrounds, insurance coverage and condition of vehicles. Palm Beach County is still working on an ordinance. Miami-Dade, too.
However, as a result of Florida’s regulation of taxi cabs, many companies now regard their drivers as independent contractors. This means that cab drivers may own or lease their vehicles and are responsible for providing their own liability insurance. If a cab driver is accused of negligence, a cab company can distance themselves in an attempt to circumvent any liability.
There is this recent headline from the Miami Herald: “Uber Faces Lawsuit After Nurse Suffers Brain Damage in Miami Beach Crash,” and certainly this kind of tragedy needs to be carefully examined to make sure the victims are cared for physically, emotionally, and financially.
So, the question “are you safe in an Uber car?” has no definitive answer. Everyone must make a decision based on their own situation, but we would recommend everyone ask questions and be aware.
Trust the Legal Experts
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been assisting victims of serious auto accidents for over 20 years in south Florida. We have the experience, compassion, and commitment to represent you if you are ever involved in any accident and to sort out who is liable for your injuries and damages. Please reach out to us at 954-360-0006 and ask for a consultation with Gary or Arleen Lazarus. We will listen to you, and all communications are completely confidential.