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Liability Warnings For Rideshare Users

In the wake of the wrongful death lawsuit filed against Uber, questions about who is ultimately financially responsible for the damages caused by a motor vehicle accident potentially involving a ride-share vehicle. As we discussed last week, Uber has declined to accept liability, distancing itself from the driver involved in the fatal pedestrian crosswalk accident. The family, who would otherwise be left to recover only from the individual driver's assets or insurance, have taken Uber to court to litigate responsibility.

In California, where the accident occurred, ridesharing companies are required to maintain a $1 million policy that covers drivers taking fares for transportation network companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. In Atlanta, taxis are required to maintain $25,000 of liability coverage. Lyft claimed in a recent article that it maintains $1 million worth of coverage.

While it may be clear when a taxicab company is responsible for a serious or fatal motor vehicle accident, the intermittent work related to private drivers using their own vehicles to accept ridesharing fares makes this case murky.

Uber has been in Atlanta since 2012. More recently, Lyft has been operating on Atlanta streets; you can pick out a Lyft car by the pink mustache that should be displayed on the car's front grill. Fares for the ridesharing programs are all charged to a rider's credit card and will fluctuate with demand. Regulations on these private vehicles have yet to catch up with the technology. A taxi cab driver must pay a $75 registration fee and a $20 fingerprint fee before obtaining a license to drive in Atlanta. Taxi drivers must also take an annual one-day seminar related to taking fares in the Atlanta area.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "California regulator warns about gaps in ride-sharing insurance," February 5, 2014 

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