Uber Faces Possible Ban from California
Copyright: dennizn / 123RF Stock Photo Uber may be fined $7.3 million and be suspended from operating in California, thanks to chief administrative law judge Karen V. Clopton of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). In her decision, the judge accused the major ridesharing company of not complying with certain state laws that ensure fair treatment of all passengers, even though they had a year to do so and were given less strict regulations to follow than regular taxi companies. A spokesperson with Uber called the decision “deeply disappointing.” She also stated that the company plans to appeal the decision within the 30 day period it has been granted by the CPUC. The appeals process could take several months before the CPUC determines whether to uphold the fine and suspension. The multimillion dollar fine is miniscule compared to Uber’s total assets (worth around $40 billion) and thus poses no threat to the company’s finances. However, if the ban is upheld, it could have devastating implications for the company’s future. Uber is already banned in many places around the world and its policies have been heavily scrutinized by regulators in the U.S. in recent years. A bad outcome here could ruin their public image and jeopardize their existence in the market. This is not the first time Uber has faced legal issues nor will it be the last. With multiple injury and employee lawsuits in the works and regulatory change on the horizon, it is only a matter of time before Uber is forced to change their ways, or perhaps fail. If you want to learn more about the legal issues surrounding ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, click here.
Who Pays for a Crash Caused by an Uber or Lyft Driver?
Photo from NYPost.com Injured in an Uber or Lyft Accident? Here’s Some Advice Surely, the people reading this article, especially Millennials, are familiar with Uber and Lyft, the two giants of the “disruptive” ride-sharing industry. Now valued at billions of dollars each, these companies have achieved enormous success at an extremely rapid pace. There are two primary reasons for their success: convenience and competitive rates. How Uber and Lyft Work Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing companies use the ubiquitous ownership of smartphones to connect passenger clients through their proprietary applications. To put it in simpler terms, they offer personal transportation services that can be requested with the push of a button (on an app). Once a ride seeker has made a request, the closest available driver is notified and sent to his or her location. It’s as simple as that. This certainly beats having to call or wait for a taxi and flag it down. Uber and Lyft rides also price their rides at a very cheap rate, relative to taxi fees. They accomplish this by labeling their drivers as contract workers, not employees, which, in turn, allows them to externalize costs like gas, payroll, etc. so that profits are maximized and expenses are kept to a minimum. Employee obligations and benefits aren’t the only things they’ve cut down on, though; they have been able to skirt insurance liabilities as well through the use of convoluted mumbo jumbo in their respective policies. The Ride-Sharing Liability Dilemma To their credit, both Uber and Lyft provide adequate coverage to injured passengers. However, matters get quite murky when it comes to accidents involving other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and so on. While both companies have expanded their coverage to include accidents incurred during a gap between rides, their policies come into effect only if a driver’s personal policy does not cover the accident. Many questions immediately come to mind: What happens if the resulting damages of an accident exceed the driver’s coverage? Who or what fills this insurance gap? Does the victim have to turn to his or her own resources? Isn’t personal policy coverage ineffective in cases where the liable driver was driving for commercial purposes? If this is the case, who covers the damages? A Complex Legal Issue Clearly, there are significant issues surrounding third-party liability insurance in the ride-sharing industry, and many are starting to realize this fact. Legislators in multiple states, including California, have challenged Uber and Lyft on their policies, and there will be many legal disputes in the coming years before clear regulations are established. At Wilshire Law Firm, our knowledgeable attorneys stay on top of the latest developments in ride-sharing accident liability law. Visit this page on Uber and Lift liability if you would like to learn more.
Ride Sharing Accident Liability
Uber and Lyft Are Skirting Accident Liability In recent years, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have become titans in the transportation industry, seemingly making billions of dollars overnight and giving taxi companies a run for their money. Their app-based business model gives them an edge in today’s digital world, as more and more people are using their smartphones to complete transactions for a growing variety of products and services. However, not only are Uber and Lyft contributing to the now trending “sharing economy,” but they are also presenting a slew of complex liability issues. For instance: *Are passengers covered by Uber/Lyft insurance?* Who is liable if an Uber driver hits another car or a pedestrian? What happens if a third party is involved in the accident? While these issues are still being hashed out in various legal disputes and will continue to develop for years to come, Uber and Lyft have recently come under pressure, especially in California, to eliminate any ambiguity in their policies and regulations regarding insurance coverage in case of an accident. How Past Accident Cases Are Effecting Changes in Rideshare Company Policies Last New Year’s Eve, a six-year-old girl was killed when an Uber driver struck her along with her mother and brother at a crosswalk. In November 2014, a Lyft driver transporting two young men swerved to avoid a stalled car and hit a tree, killing one of the passengers, a 24-year-old Sacramento citizen. These tragic stories received extensive media coverage and attracted national attention, causing scrutiny of ride-sharing companies to intensify. In California, a state which tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft employees call home, Governor Jerry Brown signed ridesharing insurance legislation requiring companies to cover drivers from the moment they turn on their app. Since then, many other state legislators have followed suit, forcing the two major ride-sharing companies to concede to some of their demands, including expanding coverage to drivers who are logged into their apps at the time of an accident. What Insurance Coverage Does Uber and Lyft Have Today? As of today, both Uber and Lyft provide $1 million of liability coverage along with $1 million of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, this coverage only applies to cases involving injuries to passengers. What about accidents involving other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and the like, that occur when the driver is on call? As previously mentioned, drivers for both companies DO receive coverage as long as they are logged onto the app. Whether the coverage is adequate is another matter. Since commercial insurance is expensive, Uber and Lyft are doing everything they can to encourage drivers to get a personal injury policy. In fact, they recently announced a partnership with Metromile to sell a personal insurance policy that provides extra coverage during the gap period by using an in-car sensor to monitor driving. Also, insurers including Farmers’ Insurance, USAA, and Geico are coming up with their own special ride-sharing policies. (Photo By AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post) DENVER, CO. – FEBRUARY 10: Kevin Labonte, owner of Special Times Limousine, supplements his own fares with those he contracts out from Uber. State legislators may enact proposed changes supported by the taxi community that say Uber is an unregulated service. Though not regulated, Uber merely connects private drivers, who comply with all PUC regulations, to customers. This can become a problem when damages exceed the coverage provided by the driver’s policy – not an uncommon scenario when it comes to personal insurance. Since Uber and Lyft only provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in their respective rider policies (passenger coverage), victims of on-call accidents are left to fend for themselves financially if the driver does not have adequate coverage. And There’s More We have extensively discussed liability issues surrounding ride-sharing companies and traffic accidents. But we haven’t even begun to cover cases involving assault, battery, sexual assault, or direct property damage committed by employees. This raises the question of whether Uber and Lyft are responsible for the criminal conduct of their drivers; however, this is an issue to be discussed in a future article. Protect Your Rights If you have been the victim of an accident involving a ride-sharing company driver and are in dire need of financial and legal support, call Wilshire Law Firm toll-free at (800) 522-7274. Our excellent attorneys can evaluate your claim, let you know where you stand, and fight to get you full and fair compensation for your losses. FREE 24/7 Consultation
Cyclists in Los Angeles Face Dangerous Roads
Dangerous Roads in LA Don’t Benefit Cyclists It’s no secret that being a cyclist in Los Angeles can be very dangerous. This is nothing new for cyclists, but was something that was brought to attention when Mayor Villaraigosa broke his elbow in a cycling accident in 2010. In Los Angeles, pedestrians accounted for about a third of all traffic fatalities, or nearly triple the national average of 11.4%. About 3% of the fatalities were bicyclists. That compares with 1.7% nationally. The study, which compared crash rates in Los Angeles, New York and nationwide, examined data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California Highway Patrol and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The database included 449,498 crashes within Los Angeles city limits, with 2,086 crashes that involved at least one death during the eight-year period of 2002 through 2009. These are scary numbers for anyone who enjoys cycling in Los Angeles. To compound the problem Governor brown recently rejected legislation that would have required motorists to give cyclists at least three feet of room while passing, or slow down — citing concern that it could cause more car accidents. Brown said he worried about requiring motorists to slow to 15 mph when passing bicyclists if there is not three feet between them. Cycling injuries can be devastating, costly, and have tremendous impact on the cyclists life. Traumatic brain injury is major problem for cyclists and can occur even when the cyclists wears his or her helmet. The problem is there hasn’t been proper education for cycling safety for automobile drivers or for cyclists. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Metro have begun to offer cyclist safety courses but a small percentage of cyclists ever sign up and participate in these programs. The Metro has also committed to an auto awareness campaign called “Share the Road” which reminds drivers that cyclists have just the same amount of rights on the roads as automobiles. None of this matters if you’ve been injured in a cycling accident or know someone who has been injured in a cycling accident. The important thing to remember is that if you have been injured in a cycling accident, you need good representation in order to get full compensation for your injuries and damages to your bike. Often times cyclists ride away from an accident thinking that they are OK, but later on realize they have had injuries that weren’t accounted for when the accident occurred. Even if you feel like you are OK and your bike is undamaged it’s very important to get the names and information of the automobile involved in the accident. When your body hits asphalt it can cause major damage to your bones, and organs. Often times the cyclist is in shock and doesn’t realize the extent of his injuries until much later. Most importantly to remember is follow the rules of the road, wear your helmet, and remember that you are no match for a several ton vehicle.