With theme parks like Disney World, Sea World, and Universal, Orlando gets flooded by tourists all the time. Many of them don’t travel by car, arriving instead by Orlando International Airport and then using ride-sharing services to get around town.
Ridesharing services are a rapidly growing phenomenon across the country, and a common sight on Orlando streets. They offer convenient and inexpensive ride-hailing services, benefiting both the riders and the drivers. The overall size of the ride-sharing market in North America is growing, with 36 percent of U.S. adults using ride-sharing services compared to 15 percent three years ago. According to the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who have used ride-sharing services has more than doubled during the last few years, and ride sharing is one of the most popular forms of transport for Orlando residents and tourists alike.
Unfortunately, ride sharing also carries significant risk, whether on Interstate 4 or Florida’s turnpike or other busy roads like Routes 408, 417, or 441. Passengers, pedestrians, and others have suffered injuries and death due to driver error. There have even been reports of violent assaults by drivers. Since rideshare services are a relatively new development in the transportation world, the legal issues concerning ridesharing accidents may be confusing, and are constantly developing. If you or a loved one has been injured in a ride sharing accident, contact an experienced, dedicated Orlando Ride-Sharing Lawyer as soon as possible.
The attorneys and staff at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, have seen firsthand the damage the user of a rideshare service can suffer when another person behaves negligently, and we are proud to help Orlando residents obtain the justice they deserve following a rideshare accident. We have recovered millions of dollars from the people and entities who have injured our clients, and we want to hear from you to see whether we can help you, too.
For more information or a free consultation, call (407) 490-1271 or contact us online.
How Ride Sharing Can Legally Differ From Taxi Services
Ride sharing services are similar to taxi services, but there are some important differences. Each rideshare company has an app which users download on their phone to use when they need to request transportation. A prospective passenger uses the app to request the type of service they want and their destination. The app uses the GPS on the user’s phone to locate the user and match them with the nearest available driver. Ridesharing companies do not fall under the same regulatory and licensing requirements that govern traditional taxi companies.
While both taxis and ride-share services create rates depending on time and distance traveled, in most cities, the app calculates your cost upfront, or you may see an estimated fare range. Another difference between rideshare companies and taxis is how they determine the cost of a ride. Taxis take the speed and flow of traffic into consideration. Rideshare services do not, although they do charge surge rates (for times of day or night that have a higher volume of traffic or cars on the road)—especially during rush hours.
Uber and Lyft drivers use their own vehicles and are considered independent contractors, which affects their pay, benefits, and insurance coverage requirements. Their status at the time of an accident also affects the insurance coverage you may receive (if any) through Uber or Lyft’s insurance policy.
Opponents to ride sharing maintain that drivers are not subject to the same rigorous screening as taxi drivers. However, rideshare services do allow both drivers and passengers to rate and review each other for future reference.
Where Orlando Ride-sharing Accidents Take Place
According to WFTV, these are among Orlando’s most dangerous roads:
- North Semoran Boulevard
- Orange Blossom Trail
- Curry Ford Road
- Kirkman Road
- Colonial Drive
If you had a ridesharing accident on any of those roads, or any street or highway in the Orlando area, please call us for help today.
Rideshare Insurance in Florida
Previously, rideshare drivers all over Florida encountered a maze of obstacles and local regulations. In 2017, Florida enacted law HB 221, sometimes referred to as the Uber/Lyft Bill. The law standardized insurance requirements for Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as establishing requirements for background checks. The law requires rideshare drivers to carry insurance above the state’s standard minimum requirements. It requires background checks on any driver operating in the state. Also, it requires ride-sharing companies to suspend any drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, pending investigation.
All Florida drivers must carry minimum insurance coverage. When the driver is using the car for personal use and is not on the app, the transportation network company’s (TNC) policy does not apply to him or anyone else who might have been injured in an accident. Drivers need “at least $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 of property damage liability coverage” to meet Florida’s auto insurance requirements. A driver’s personal auto insurance policy may deny coverage during the time the ride share app is on.
Rideshare insurance for Lyft and Uber drivers, as well as those who drive for other transportation network companies (TNCs), works similarly in Florida to the way it works in other states.
If a driver purchases a rideshare insurance policy or adds a rideshare endorsement to their personal auto insurance policy, there are four stages during which coverage can differ:
- When the app is off, this is considered standard personal use, and the driver’s personal auto insurance covers them.
- When the rideshare app is on and the driver is waiting for a passenger to be assigned to them, their personal rideshare insurance would provide coverage.
- The rideshare company, such as Uber or Lyft, also provides a limited amount of liability coverage.
- When the driver has been paired with a passenger and is on the way to pick up the person, the rideshare company’s auto insurance is typically in force. During this time, some personal rideshare insurance policies extend coverage as well.
- Once a passenger is in the car and until their ride is completed, the rideshare company’s commercial auto insurance provides coverage.
The law requires all TNCs to have a policy that can cover all periods when the app is on. However, different rideshare companies have different commercial insurance policies, coverage and restrictions may differ.
To protect users and others on the road from negligent or dangerous drivers, any transportation network company (TNC) operating a ride sharing service in Florida is required to:
- Conduct criminal background checks of every prospective driver.
- Review driving history reports for each prospective driver.
- Display a picture and license plate number of the driver before the passenger enters the vehicle.
- Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use while driving.
- Prohibit drivers who are on the National Sex Offender Public Website to operate.
Common Causes of Ride Sharing Accidents
- Inattentive drivers. Rideshare drivers are frequently distracted. They may be watching their GPS, watching the app for prospective passengers, or looking for passengers they have been sent to pick up.
- Sudden or illegal U-turns may cause a T-bone accident.
- Unsafe lane changes.
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of a narcotic substance.
- Driver fatigue. Rideshare drivers often drive for long hours without sufficient rest. Driver fatigue is as dangerous as driving while under the influence of an intoxicating substance.
- Failure to properly maintain the vehicle. Drivers are usually trying to earn as much money as possible, so they may not invest the time or money into maintenance and necessary repairs.
- Failure to obey traffic signs and signals.
- Unsafe lane changes.
- Aggressive driving. Like all drivers, in some circumstances, drivers may cross the line into aggressive driving or deadly road rage.
Just a few of the more common types of injuries that can result from a ride sharing accident include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a traumatic brain injury, which often occurs as a result of a car accident, disrupts normal brain function. The victim of a TBI may require continuous, long-term care.
- Spinal cord injury – A spinal cord injury is a devastating injury that affects mobility and sensation. Life may never be the same. Treatment and adaptive equipment may be disastrously expensive.
- Internal injuries – The symptoms of internal injuries may not show up for days or even weeks, but untreated internal injuries can be extremely dangerous.
- Broken bones – A serious car accident can result in one or more broken bones, leading to pain and limited mobility.
Florida Rideshare Accident Claims
Florida follows no-fault insurance laws. That means if a doctor determines that your injury is minor, then you must submit a claim under your own car insurance policy. However, if your injury is severe, you are eligible to pursue an insurance claim with the at-fault motorist’s insurer.
Florida law 627.737 defines a serious injury as one or more of the following:
- A permanent injury
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
If the driver of the rideshare vehicle is at fault for the accident, you may seek compensation from the driver. Also, if the accident occurs while the rideshare vehicle is transporting a passenger, you may collect compensation from any insurance policies offered by the rideshare company. If another driver causes an accident with your Uber or Lyft, you may be entitled to seek compensation from that driver and his or her auto insurance policy.
If your injuries are severe and will prevent you from returning to work, it may make sense to file a lawsuit in civil court. Florida’s law gives you the right to seek compensation for any injury-related expenses and losses caused by negligence.
Keep in mind that all claims and lawsuits have filing deadlines, so it is important to speak with an Orlando rideshare attorney without delay.
Compensation From an Uber or Lyft auto accident
Florida law permits victims of rideshare accidents to pursue several types of damages.
Your Orlando rideshare lawyer will be the best source of information for what compensation you might expect, but common damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses, including emergency care, hospital stays, doctor’s visits, surgery, medication, durable medical equipment, physical or occupational therapy, and more
- Lost wages, such as income lost from work due to injuries and the loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering, which is physical and mental anguish caused by the accident, along with loss of quality of life
- Physical impairment
- Wrongful death
- Punitive damages (in certain cases)
If a loved one died as a result of the accident, you can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. The purpose of these claims is to compensate the deceased person’s estate and family members. In Florida, the decedent’s spouse, children, and parents can receive damages. Also, a blood relative or adoptive sibling who was partly or completely dependent on the decedent for support may be eligible for damages.
The Three Biggest Ride Sharing Risks
When you decide to use Uber, Lyft, or another ride sharing service, you are stepping into a stranger’s car. If you think you are in danger, take whatever steps necessary to ensure your safety and report the driver.
Risks may include:
- Car and pedestrian accidents. Sitting in the back seat of a car, users may forget to think about normal traffic safety. Pay attention to where you are going and whether the driver is operating the car safely.
- Criminals. Even drivers that pass Uber and Lyft’s background checks may commit crimes. According to a CNN investigation, no less than 103 Uber drivers in the previous four years were accused of abusing or sexually assaulting their passengers. At least 31 were convicted.
- Fake drivers. Criminals have posed as rideshare drivers and assaulted their passengers. In one well-known case, Samantha Josephson, a student at the University of South Carolina, got into a car she mistook for her Uber and was killed by the driver within hours.
Orlando Ride Sharing FAQ
The ride sharing industry has become enormously popular in recent years, and rideshare services are a common choice for transport around Orlando. Whether you’re a tourist who doesn’t want to rent a car, a local who doesn’t want to deal with traffic and parking when heading out to an Orlando Magic game, or a responsible person who doesn’t want to drive after enjoying the music at the Social or House of Blues, you expect ride-sharing services to provide safe transportation.
The two biggest ride-sharing companies are Uber and Lyft. Lyft has 30 million riders and 2 million drivers across the United States and Canada; Uber has 91 million monthly active riders and is available in over 80 countries.
Ridesharing is convenient and easy to use. For drivers, it provides a nice source of income, and for passengers, it saves them the cost of owning a car or helps them get around an unfamiliar city. However, since ride share services are relatively new, they bring with them a whole new set of questions and concerns.
The rideshare accident associates at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, believe rideshare companies and drivers alike have a responsibility to the Orlando community to conduct their business safely and responsibly. If you’ve been involved in a rideshare accident, we can help you pursue justice. For more information or a free consultation, contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, online.
Below, we tackle some of the most common questions we receive regarding ride sharing in Orlando.
Legally, how do ride sharing companies differ from taxis?
Taxis drivers are usually the employees of a taxi company, which must be licensed. Uber and Lyft drivers are generally not considered employees of the rideshare companies and the rideshare vehicles are not required to obtain a license (although they may be subject to local or state regulations in some areas). Customers typically hail a taxi on the street, but rideshare customers request a vehicle via the companies’ mobile application.
Drivers should notify their personal auto insurance company that they are driving for a ride share company. Otherwise, it may cancel or fail to renew the policy. Also, drivers should also notify their insurer of any accidents, even if the ride share company’s insurance covered them, or the insurer may contest a claim later on.
How does rideshare insurance work in Florida?
Since most people who recover compensation will do so through an insurance settlement or a lawsuit against the insurance company, you may want to know how this works—or just call us, since we have plenty of experience dealing with ridesharing accidents and insurance policies.
HB 221, sometimes referred to as the Uber/Lyft Bill, enhances the requirements for ride-sharing services in Florida. Among its provisions, drivers must carry insurance above the state’s standard minimum requirements. It requires background checks on any driver operating in the state and requires ride sharing companies to suspend any drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, pending investigation.
Rideshare drivers must have their own car insurance policies because they are not always logged into the app when driving. When the driver is off the app, he or she is using his car for personal use, meaning that the transportation network company’s (TNC) policy does not apply to the driver or anyone else who might be involved in an accident. The driver should have his or her own insurance policy to protect him and others when he is not driving for Uber or Lyft. They need “at least $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 of property damage liability coverage” to meet Florida’s auto insurance requirements. A driver’s personal auto insurance policy may deny coverage during the time the ride share app is on.
Once the app is on, Florida requires rideshare drivers to carry higher limits of insurance.
In addition to the state’s personal auto insurance requirements, Florida law mandates the following insurance for rideshare while their app is on:
- In some cases, the rideshare app is on, the driver is waiting for a passenger, but no passenger is assigned. In this situation, the TNC insurance must provide at least $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per person, $100,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident, and $25,000 of property damage liability coverage per accident.
- Once there is an assigned passenger, the rideshare vehicle would be covered by the TNC’s third-party liability insurance policy, with at least $1 million coverage for bodily injury and property damage.
The new bill placed insurance requirements on the company (i.e., Uber, Lyft, etc.) only, not the driver. However, the driver may be at risk with regard to his or her personal car insurance coverage. Most policies contain language listing exceptions for coverage. An exception may apply if the vehicle is used for employment purposes or is on a driver for hire basis. Drivers may wish to consider purchasing additional coverage.
What are the requirements for Uber and Lyft cars in Orlando?
Uber and Lyft car requirements for Florida rideshare drivers vary by city and program.
For Lyft, the requirements are consistent across most of the state:
- Drivers must register their cars with valid license plates and insured as required by Florida law.
- The car must have at least four doors.
- The car needs to seat at least four passengers, including the driver, so it must have between five and eight seats.
- In most Florida cities, the model year of the car must be at least 2002. However, in Orlando, as well as Miami, Jacksonville, Bradenton, Naples, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, or Tampa, the model year of the car’s model year must be at least 2006.
Uber’s car requirements in Florida differ based on the city and the services offered.
However, Uber has certain requirements for all its cars:
- All cars are required to have four doors.
- Cars must not have any commercial branding or cosmetic damage.
- The car can’t be marked, salvaged, or rebuilt.
- No taxis, government vehicles, vans or box trucks.
- The car must have working windows and air conditioning, and it must be in good condition with no cosmetic damage to the vehicle.
- Aftermarket parts, such as non-factory installed seat belts, are not permitted in the seating area, such as non factory-installed seat belts.
Ride sharing vehicles are not required to undergo the type of inspections that limo and taxi cab vehicles are subject to. Some people are concerned that these vehicles may break down because of excessive use or inadequate maintenance. Vehicle breakdowns may mean anything from an inconvenience for passengers to possible accidents.
What are the rideshare driver requirements in Orlando?
Florida’s law requires all prospective rideshare drivers to complete criminal background and driving record checks before they’re approved to drive. Unfortunately, sometimes a driver slips through the cracks and poses a danger to passengers, and in some cases, malicious people even pose as rideshare drivers. Once the driver is approved, companies must perform a background check at least every three years.
In Florida, a rideshare company would reject a potential driver if a background check showed:
- No valid U.S. driver’s license, insurance, or vehicle registration.
- A conviction for driving without a valid license (either suspended or revoked) in the past three years.
- A felony in the past five years.
- Three or more moving violations in the past three years;
- A misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence, hit-and-run, reckless driving, or fleeing from a police officer in the past five years.
- A misdemeanor conviction for a violent offense, indecent exposure, or sexual battery in the past five years.
- Being on a sex offender registry.
Florida’s law also has a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy for rideshare drivers.
In addition to state law, Lyft and Uber have their own rules for drivers in Florida. For both companies, drivers must be at least 21 years old, licensed in the U.S. for at least one year (Uber requires three years if you’re under 23), and must provide a picture that will be shared with passengers before pickup.
Uber also has rules that apply to specific programs, such as commercial license requirements.
In a rideshare accident, is the driver or the rideshare company responsible?
If a rideshare vehicle causes the accident, the driver of the vehicle may be held responsible for his or her own negligence in causing the accident. Many drivers are considered independent contractors, rather than employees, of the companies, so in those cases, the companies may not be held liable. However, if the driver is logged in, Uber and Lyft provide some level of insurance coverage. They provide more coverage if the driver is picking up or transporting a passenger.
If an Uber or Lyft driver is not at fault for an accident involving his or her vehicle, then an injured passenger will probably have to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. However, in some cases, the Uber or Lyft driver may have commercial liability insurance that may provide coverage to an injured passenger.
What are the common types of ride sharing accidents in Orlando?
Ridesharing accidents often occur because the driver is distracted by the GPS. Drivers are frequently in a hurry, or make U-turns or other irregular stops to pick up or drop off passengers. Accidents may involve passengers, drivers of the Uber or Lyft, drivers of other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
Common accidents include:
- T-Bone accidents. These often happen when a driver makes an unexpected or illegal U-turn to reach a passenger, leading to a collision with oncoming vehicles.
- Rear-end collisions. Rear-end collisions are usually assumed to be the fault of the following driver. However, rideshare drivers are often looking for passengers or driving in an unfamiliar area. Therefore, they may stop unexpectedly or in a way that doesn’t allow the driver in the back to respond quickly. In those situations, the driver of the rideshare vehicle may be at fault.
- Sideswipe collisions. Rideshare drivers are often distracted. They are checking their GPS, looking at new customer information on their phone, or looking for a passenger they are supposed to pick up. All of these distractions may cause a sideswipe accident.
What type of claim might I file after a rideshare accident in Orlando?
If you have been injured in a ride sharing accident in Florida, you might file an insurance claim or seek compensation for your injuries through litigation.
Florida follows no-fault insurance laws. Therefore, if a medical professional determines that your ride sharing accident injury is minor, then you must submit a claim under your own insurance policy. However, if your injury is severe, such as significant and permanent loss of an important body function, permanent scarring or disfigurement, or serious burns, you may be eligible to pursue an insurance claim with the at-fault motorist’s insurer.
If your injuries are severe and will prevent you from returning to work, it may make sense to file a lawsuit in civil court. Florida’s law gives you the right to seek compensation for any injury-related expenses and losses caused by negligence. Additionally, if you lost a loved one in an accident, you can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party.
What damages might I recover in an Uber or Lyft auto accident?
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment
- Wrongful death
- Punitive damages (in certain cases)
What should I do after an Orlando ride sharing accident?
- As with any accident, you should first get medical care for yourself, and anyone else who may be hurt. Even if you think your injuries are minor, you should see a doctor because some symptoms of serious injury may not show up until later. Medical treatment is also the first step in documenting your injuries.
- Even if no one is injured, call the police. If possible, take photos or videos of the accident scene, including injuries, the interior and exterior of the vehicles, and the crash site.
- Your ridesharing driver is probably a stranger, so it is vitally important to gather contact and insurance information about everyone involved in the crash. The driver must report the collision to their ride sharing company.
- In many cases, Uber or Lyft drivers will have cameras that operate on their dashboards while carrying a passenger. If so, this footage may provide useful information in the event of an injury claim.
The process of filing a rideshare accident claim, collecting evidence, and dealing with insurance companies can confuse and overwhelm anyone. If you have questions or don’t know what to do after a rideshare accident in Orlando, an experienced Orlando ridesharing accident attorney can explain your legal options. For more information or a free consultation, call or contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, online.
Were You in a Ride Sharing Accident? Call Our Orlando Ridesharing Accident Lawyers
Following a ridesharing accident in Orlando, pain and trauma are expected, and it can be hard to know what to do next. Insurance companies usually want to settle injury claims as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible. A quick settlement offer from an insurance company may seem like an easy solution to your problems, but if you accept, you may lose the right to pursue a civil action later. You should not sign any release or other paperwork, or accept any settlement offer, without first speaking to your Orland rideshare attorney.
The personal and financial costs of an accident can be catastrophic. If you or a loved one has been injured in a ride sharing accident, contact an experienced, dedicated Orlando car accident lawyer as soon as possible. For more information or a free consultation, call (407) 490-1271 or Contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney, online.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814
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“My attorney Amit was absolutely amazing. Once the case got to him he called me on a regular basis and kept me posted on every action they were taking. Not that I want to be another accident but if I do I know who’s taking care of me.” -Heather B.