Ride-Sharing Services in Florida
Ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have taken over our roads and news stories in recent months. Specifically, Florida legislators tried and failed to adopt legislation that would permit such ride-sharing companies to operate legally within the state of Florida. Despite the illegality of the service, many ride-sharing entrepreneurs are rolling the dice and operating under the radar. Ride-sharing drivers that are caught operating their vehicles for commercial use unlawfully may be hit with severe civil penalties and the possibility of criminal charges.
What is Ride-Sharing?
Ride sharing is an inexpensive, convenient transportation alternative. Similar to a taxi, drivers are personally dispatched to a specific location for pick up. Unlike a taxi, a ride-sharing passenger executes the entire transaction on his or her mobile device. In one click, for example, the Uber application can show you nearby drivers in your area. You can select what vehicle you want to pick you up, read other customer’s reviews of drivers, and see the approximate cost of the fare before you commit. Other companies such as Sidecar will even give you a guaranteed maximum rate before you commit to the ride. Perhaps most notably, the applications will store your credit card information and you submit your payment directly through your mobile device.
Why Doesn’t Florida Allow Ride-Sharing?
The primary critics of ride-sharing services are taxi drivers. Taxi drivers are required by law to carry commercial licenses and commercial insurance to protect their passengers in the event of an accident. There are stringent registration requirements a taxi driver must meet before lawfully operating a taxi service. The absence of these requirements for ride-sharing companies allow such services to charge far less than traditional taxi companies while still making a profit.
Ride-sharing companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar essentially operate under a loophole. As individual drivers, they are not required by most states to carry insurance to cover their passengers, making liability a significant concern from a legal perspective. The drivers are not dispatched, but control their client base on the application itself. In order to combat the insurance concerns, states such as Colorado, Illinois, and California have taken steps to require heightened insurance protection for those participating as ride-sharing drivers. Similar legislation is pending in fourteen other states.
While operating a ride-sharing service is unlawful in Florida, Uber and Lyft are very openly still running their business. So far, passengers have not been penalized by local authorities for catching a ride, but it is worth proceeding with caution. Remember that the law may not protect you and that your personal insurance is unlikely to cover all of your medical expenses in the event you are in a car accident while in a ride-sharing vehicle.
What If I Was In An Accident?
If you or someone you know has been involved in a ride-sharing or any other type of auto accident in the Miami area, you need experienced car accident attorneys to help you navigate the legal system. With Alan Goldfarb, P.A., you can be assured your attorneys will fight tirelessly to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. If you have any questions or think you may have a case, please do not hesitate to contact our office today at 305-371-3111 for a free consultation.