Nashville Car Accident Attorney Applauds the New Ride-Sharing Legislation
Ride-sharing services have exploded in popularity nationwide, allowing passengers to use smartphone apps to call for rides and pay entirely within the app—no cash. However, car accident attorneys keenly understand the dangers of ride sharing if Lyft or Uber insurance safeguards are in place for drivers and passengers in the event of an accident.
Auto insurance policies have historically been difficult for Uber and Lyft drivers. Uber and Lyft employees suffered from an “insurance gap”, meaning while drivers were not on the clock, they were only covered by their own insurance policies. While on the clock, drivers were not covered by their own insurance policy, because they were performing business activities.
An insurance company would have refused any accident claim because the ride-sharing driver did not have a commercial policy. If an accident were to happen involving serious property damage and injury, the driver would have been on the hook for any costs. Passengers, other vehicles hit and personal medical costs would not have been covered by insurance. Most drivers, even if sued, would not have the funds to pay for passengers’ injuries without insurance coverage.
What Could Happen To Uninsured Ride-Sharing Drivers Involved In Car Accidents?
Let us stretch our imaginations and create a hypothetical scenario of what this dilemma would look like for an Uber or Lyft driver involved in a car accident.
Jimmy is a 22-year-old Tennessee State University student working for Uber part-time to help pay for textbooks. One day Jimmy is on duty and driving down the street while waiting to log back in to his Uber app to check for new passengers. The weather is rainy and the roads are slick, and it is not long before Jimmy begins to hydroplane, losing control of his vehicle. Jimmy comes to an abrupt stop after slamming into a minivan carrying a family of three. After being rescued from the chaotic scene of the accident, Jimmy is recuperating in the hospital.
Our hypothetical scenario would have a very unhappy ending for Jimmy if he lacked commercial insurance coverage. Many insurance policies offer bodily injury protection, meaning medical costs associated with car accidents are partially or completely paid. Jimmy would be looking at rehabilitation costs and hospital bills potentially in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Long-term, Jimmy would have lost-income costs and other bills associated with his catastrophic injury.
The family Jimmy hit also had severe injuries. A 16-year-old riding in the minivan sustained a traumatic brain injury and will require months of rehabilitation. Jimmy would have to pay the medical costs, as he was driving without commercial insurance coverage. If Jimmy had been carrying passengers, he would be liable to pay for their injuries as well (money that he likely would not have.)
What Has Tennessee Done To Protect Drivers And Passengers?
On May 20th, Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill that regulated the ride-sharing industry in Tennessee. Part of the bill requires commercial insurance for ride-sharing companies in the amount of one million dollars, among other provisions. With the new legislation in place, ride-sharing drivers, passengers and other motorists would be covered in the event of a catastrophic car accident.
Stanley A. Davis is a Nashville personal injury attorney who serves accident survivors and grieving family members. He was part of a group of lawyers who were involved in the legislation to protect Uber and Lyft drivers and passengers. Over the years, Stanley A. Davis has represented many cab drivers in accidents, and he has a personal understanding of the importance of full coverage insurance policies.
“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.” – Jeremiah 33:6