Ridesharing has become the preferred mode of transportation for many when it’s not practical to drive. But ridesharing has become so popular so quickly that the law is just catching up with regulating the industry. Uber started testing in New York in 2012. Today Uber has more than 75 million active riders around the world and is available in more than 80 countries. The company went public in May 2019, at a valuation of about $75 billion. Uber continues to battle for market share with Lyft, but it remains the leader of transport network companies at least for now.
People like ridesharing because it is significantly faster than calling a cab and it generally costs less. For drivers, it offers a flexible way to make a bit of extra cash. No doubt ridesharing has been a boon to many, but before you ride or drive with Uber or Lyft in Ohio, it’s important to understand what happens if you are in a collision or suffer any type of injury that involves a rideshare.
Uber Insurance Coverage in Ohio
Though Uber provides insurance for its drivers, drivers are still required to have their own personal insurance. However, insurance companies will not pay claims on the driver’s personal insurance when the driver is using their personal vehicle for Uber X, which is the most common Uber option and also the least expensive.
There has been controversy about whether or not a rideshare company’s insurance will pay for collisions that occur when there is no passenger in the car, such as when the driver is waiting for a job or on their way to pick up a passenger. An Ohio law, HB 237, which went into effect in March 2016, did away with that ambiguity. If the driver is logged into a transport network company’s app, then the transport company’s insurance covers any collisions. The only exception is if the driver has insurance that covers ridesharing, which is uncommon.
Ohio law requires minimum commercial coverage of $50,000 for bodily injury for each person, $100,000 per collision, and $25,000 for property damage. Clearly, this is not very high, because if you are injured in an automobile collision, your medical bills can cost much more than $50,000. These are actually the same amounts that Uber promises in its website to all U.S. drivers. Damage to an Uber driver’s car has a deductible of $1,000.
If you are riding in a rideshare vehicle and are in an collision, if the driver of the other vehicle is at fault, you can recover from their insurance company the same as you could in any other collision. However, if that driver is uninsured, you may have to look to the rideshare company for compensation. Ohio law requires rideshare companies to carry $1 million in total liability insurance. Once again, this is the same amount Uber promises on its website.
Uber and Background Checks
Uber performs background checks on its drivers and these are required under Ohio law for all rideshare companies. Uber looks at both driving record and criminal background. However, Ohio does not require ridesharing companies to provide the state with the results of these background checks. The background check includes an examination of the applicant’s driver’s license and driving record, vehicle documentation, criminal records, and a sex offender registry.
The regulations are different from those for taxicabs and taxi drivers often go through more stringent background checks than rideshare drivers. Taxi regulations are stricter in some cities than others. For example, in Cleveland, taxi drivers must be fingerprinted and submit character references in addition to undergoing background checks before they can drive a taxi.
Uber and Alleged Assaults
Despite background checks, assaults by taxi drivers and rideshare drivers do happen. For example, in April 2017, Brandon Franklin, a former Uber driver, was charged in court with sexually assaulting a passenger after giving her an Uber ride to her home near Akron, Ohio. In response, Uber removed the driver and worked with police to provide information needed to arrest the driver.
It’s important to know that there are no anonymous Uber trips. When users order a car, they are given the driver’s first name; license plate number; and the make, model, and color of the driver’s vehicle. Uber logs the trip and can easily provide the identity of the driver to the police. Of course, background checks are critical for safety for both for ridesharing and taxi customers.
Protect Your Rights When Riding in an Uber
If you are a ridesharing driver or customer and are in a serious collision, it is wise to contact a Cleveland personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling cases involving Uber, Lyft, and other transportation companies. Insurance companies do not part with their money willingly, and despite Ohio regulations, you may have to fight for your just compensation.
If you are a passenger who has been assaulted or threatened in any way by a rideshare driver, you should also immediately contact an attorney both to protect your rights and to get the driver off the road — for good. Contact Plevin & Gallucci today for a free consultation.
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