It is the transportation wave of the future. More and more people are taking advantage of ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft, but what happens if you are involved in an accident while traveling in one of these vehicles? Insurance issues regarding these privately-owned vehicles can quickly get sticky. New Jersey is one of 36 states to date that have passed legislation dealing with this relatively new form of transportation.
New Jersey’s Transportation Network Company Safety and Regulatory Act
In February, 2017, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Transportation Network Company Safety and Regulatory Act. The legislation requires that ride-sharing drivers and their companies provide up to $1.5 million in liability and uninsured/underinsured coverage for passengers injured in an accident. The new law is similar to coverage regarding limousine services, and provides more coverage than taxi services. If it turns out the ride-share driver’s insurance policy has lapsed, Uber, Lyft or the relevant company is responsible for the entire amount.
The new law also requires background checks for ride-sharing drivers, although fingerprinting is not part of the legislation. Anyone previously convicted of sexual assault, homicide, driving under the influence, reckless driving or drug possession cannot qualify as a ride-sharing driver.
What to Do if in a Ride-Sharing Accident
Some of the advice pertaining to ride-sharing accidents is true for any sort of motor vehicle accident. You should always:
- Seek medical attention immediately, even if you do not think you are seriously injured
- Report the accident to law enforcement
- Take photos or video of the scene
- Take notes or record your recollections at once
When the accident involves a ride-sharing service, you must report it as soon as possible to the ride-sharing company. It is also a wise idea to contact a South Jersey personal injury lawyer to help you with your case.
Still No Way for Public to Access Safety Records
While the new law is a step in the right direction, it does not provide a way for the public to access a ride-share driver’s safety record. Ride-share drivers are not employees of Uber or Lyft, but independent contractors. That means, under federal law, ride-sharing companies cannot provide these drivers with safety training. By law, such safety training indicates a person is an employee. Both companies have fought extensively in court to keep drivers from an employee classification.
On the plus side, passenger privacy rights are maintained under the law. While the state Department of Transportation may receive data about ride-sharing, this information is considered confidential and cannot be disclosed to a third party unless Lyft or Uber agrees. That means where you go and when you go on a ride-share remains private, and is not accessible under state Open Public Records Act (OPRA) laws.
South Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. Represent Those Injured in Ride Sharing Accidents
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a ride-sharing accident, you need the services of an experienced South Jersey personal injury lawyer. Contact Folkman Law Offices, P.C. to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 856-354-9444, or submit an online inquiry. Our offices are conveniently located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania to assist clients throughout the area.