Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have completely changed the way many Floridians travel around Tampa, and indeed, many of these changes have improved the lives of hundreds of people. However, Uber drivers travel more miles when they are working than a normal driver. As a result, Uber drivers increase the likelihood that they will be involved in a car accident. Consider this. In 2017, there were 402,385 car crashes in the state of Florida, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). In Hillsborough County alone, there were 27,909 crashes that resulted in an estimated 20,682 and 191 fatalities. This means that more than two people are killed every week and multiple people are injured each day as a result of a car accident in Hillsborough County.
In other words, the chances of you being involved in a car accident in Tampa is high on its own, but if you are an Uber driver, being involved in a car accident is almost inevitable, which is why Florida has passed laws that specifically require rideshare companies to carry specific types of insurance on their drivers. However, due to this fact, rideshare companies across the country are notorious for vigorously defending against car accident cases initiated against them. As such, you need to be aware of the specific laws that apply to ridesharing companies that operate in Florida and why it is so important for you to obtain the services of an Uber accident attorney to assist you with your claim.
Uber Insurance Laws in Florida
One of the biggest changes to Florida law in 2017 was the passing of the “Uber and Lyft law,” which requires ridesharing companies to carry auto insurance on their drivers that is higher than the state minimum. As you may know, Florida law only requires normal drivers to carry $10,000 worth of personal injury protection insurance and $10,000 in property damage liability insurance coverage, which in the grand scheme of things is not a lot of insurance. In contrast, Uber falls under a very different insurance standard under Fla.Stat§627.748(7), and this standard can be divided into two categories:
- Insurance while the driver is signed into the ridesharing app but doesn’t have a passenger in the vehicle
- Insurance while the driver is actively transporting a passenger
Uber Insurance Standards while Signed into the App with a Passenger
Fla.Stat§627.748(7) has different requirements for Uber drivers that are signed into the rideshare application and engaging in a “prearranged ride,” requested by a customer. Fla.Stat§627.748(7) defines a prearranged ride as:
- The period of time while an Uber driver is going to pick up a passenger
- The period of time while an Uber driver is transporting a passenger up to the point where the passenger exits the vehicle
During this period of time, either the driver or the rideshare company must carry at least one million dollars in liability insurance for death, personal injury, and property damage. This insurance would cover you if you were a passenger involved in an accident that was caused by another driver who didn’t carry enough insurance or as a passenger involved in an accident caused by the Uber driver. Moreover, this insurance would also cover other drivers who were involved in an accident caused by an Uber driver.
Uber Insurance While a Driver is Signed into the App but not Engaged in a ride.
When an Uber driver is not engaged in or in-route to a prearranged ride, Uber is required to carry less insurance on its driver. Fla.Stat§627.748(7) requires Uber to carry insurance with the following minimum limits when a driver is not engaged in a prearranged ride:
- $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident
- $25,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident
Can I Sue Uber for an Accident Caused by their Driver?
This is a common question among accident victims involved a serious accident caused by an Uber driver, and the answer is, it depends on the facts of the case. If you were a passenger or another driver involved in an accident while an Uber driver was engaged in a prearranged ride, you are of course covered by Uber’s one million dollar insurance policy, but if you are involved in an accident while the driver is logged into the app but not engaging in a prearranged ride, there is a good chance that the insurance coverage carried by the driver might not be sufficient to fully compensate you for your injuries.
However, Fla.Stat§627.748(9) indicates that an Uber driver is considered an independent contractor so long as Uber is meeting all the requirements imposed on ridesharing companies under Florida law. As such, it can be difficult successfully bring a claim against Uber if this is true, because Uber is not considered an employer by law. Meaning, you could not sue Uber as you would a normal employer whose employee has committed an act of negligence under the doctrine of “respondeat superior” in most instances, but the fact is, this area of Florida law is undeveloped and unexplored by the courts in our state, which is why regardless of how the accident occurred you should always speak with a Uber accident attorney who can evaluate your claim.
Why you should always Speak with a Uber Accident Attorney
When an area of law is undeveloped, the answers to many questions have not been answered yet. As such, you should always consult with an Uber accident attorney who can evaluate your claim based the current understanding of the laws that have been put in place, because failing to do so, can be an especially costly mistake when an area of law has not been developed to maturity. 1800-Injured is a medical and lawyer referral service that connects accident victims with Uber accident attorneys in the Tampa area. If you or a loved one has been involved in an Uber accident, call 1-800-Injured today to be connected with an Uber accident attorney near you.