Eight years ago, Uber changed the transportation industry forever. Unlike taxi companies, rideshare services connected Bradenton digital users with local drivers who transported passengers in their personal vehicles. Fees for using ride-sourcing services were frequently less than traditional for-hire vehicles, but rideshare drivers were typically untrained operators navigating unfamiliar roads. As such, unique legal issues arose when passengers were injured in rideshare accidents. Who is liable for a rideshare driver's negligence—the driver, the rideshare company, or both? To learn more about the laws around personal injury lawsuits read on to hear from an experienced Bradenton rideshare accident lawyer at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, Accident Injury Lawyers, P.A.
Forty-eight states, including Florida, have passed transportation network company (TNC) legislation over the past few years. Florida's TNC law defines the scope of rideshare services in Bradenton, and imposes legal obligations on rideshare drivers and companies in the Sunshine State. Nonetheless, this area of personal injury law is still developing in Florida. So read on to determine how an experienced Bradenton Ridesharing Accident Lawyer navigates rideshare laws in florida.
Schedule a Rideshare Liability Consultation With the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
Bradenton residents injured during a qualifying rideshare accident should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free case evaluation. Whether you were assaulted by a rideshare driver or injured in an app-based ride accident, contact our Bradenton legal team.
How Florida Defines Ride-Sourcing and TNC Services
Different terms are used to define the services offered by companies such as Uber and Lyft. These include rideshare companies, ride-sourcing services, app-based transportation providers, and transportation network companies. The majority of these services are provided by popular applications such as Uber, but new rideshare companies are formed each year. Florida's primary rideshare law, Fla. Stat. § 627.748, uses the term “transportation network company” (TNC) to describe rideshare providers.
A company is a TNC if all of the following are true:
- The entity is legally operating under Florida business laws.
- The entity uses dedicated internet technology, such as a smartphone application or website, to connect registered riders and drivers.
- A rider can arrange rides with a driver through the entity's digital network.
- The rider will be connected with a driver authorized to use the TNC's online platform.
Florida law specifies that TNC companies are not considered common carriers, taxicab companies, or for-hire driver providers. Unless otherwise specified in a written agreement between the TNC and rideshare driver, the company does not own, direct, manage, control, or operate the vehicles provided by a registered driver. This is an important aspect of rideshare law that distinguishes rideshare services from taxi companies in Bradenton.
Differentiating Rideshare Trips From Other Types of Drives
Ridesharing is unique for both passengers and drivers because drivers use their personal vehicles. Drivers typically log on to a TNC digital network, such as the Lyft app, when they're available to accept passengers. They may drive around between rides, park near an airport, or otherwise stay home while waiting for a customer.
In Bradenton, a rideshare officially begins when the TNC driver accepts a request for transportation through the TNC network, and ends when the last passenger exits the rideshare vehicle. When TNC drivers are not logged on, they have the same legal status as any other driver on Florida's roads. The ride must be summoned through the TNC network to qualify as a legal rideshare. For example, Bradenton residents who hail an Uber as they would a cab, without using designated Uber technology, are not engaged in a rideshare.
These distinctions are important because Florida law permits car insurance providers to exclude TNC drivers from coverage when they are logged on to a rideshare app or engaged in ridesharing. Rideshare drivers, or the ride-sourcing company on their behalf, must carry special TNC insurance that activates when the driver is logged on to the application or providing a ride. The rideshare driver must tell the insurance that the vehicle is used for ridesharing.
If a TNC driver fails to obtain the proper insurance and rear-ends a vehicle while waiting for a customer, the rideshare driver's insurance could legally refuse to provide liability coverage. This would leave the injured occupants with little financial recourse for serious car accident injuries.
Legal Procedures Necessary to Protect Rideshare Passengers in Bradenton
Many Floridians hesitate to use ride-sourcing applications due to safety concerns. Murder, sexual assault, and theft have all occurred during rideshares in the United States. Further, rideshare drivers are not required to hold special commercial motor vehicle licenses, which often include additional passenger and traffic safety training. Florida's TNC law aims to mitigate these concerns by imposing stringent background checks and monitoring requirements on rideshare companies operating in the state.
- Before permitting a driver to accept passengers through a TNC platform, the rideshare company must:
- Review the driver's application to ensure accurate personal and vehicle information is provided
- Conduct a local and nationwide criminal background check
- Conduct a check through the national sexual offender registry
- Obtain and review the applicant's driving record
- Ensure that vehicle registration information is accurate
The rideshare company must repeat these background checks every three years. After a driver is hired, the rideshare company must also take additional safety measures to protect riders. The digital platform, most often a smartphone application, must display a picture of the driver and the registered license plate number before a passenger enters the car. The company must also provide riders with an electronic receipt that reflects the place of pick-up and the drop-off destination, total time and distance of the ride, and the fare paid. Again, this is generally provided through the application.
Persons Prohibited From Becoming Rideshare Drivers in Bradenton
Florida does not permit a driver to use a rideshare platform if the applicant:
- Was convicted of a felony in the past five years
- Was convicted of any drunk driving/DUI, hit and run, resisting arrest, or reckless driving offense
- Was convicted of a violent offense, sexual battery, or another Florida sex crime
- Was convicted of driving with a suspended license in the past three years
- Is listed on the national sexual offender registry
- Does not have a valid driver's license
- Does not provide proof of vehicle registration
The rideshare company is only required to research these offenses at the time the driver applies to use the application, and then every three years thereafter. A court could convict a driver of a qualifying criminal or traffic offense after he or she contracted with the company but before a followup background check.
Notably, Florida's TNC statute does not prohibit rideshare companies from using all drivers with a criminal record or history of car accidents. A company could still contract a driver convicted of a felony 10 years ago, or a driver who was ticketed for speeding in the past. If you were injured in a Bradenton rideshare accident, it may still be possible to hold the ride-sourcing company liable if there were red flags in the driver's background and driving records check. A qualified Bradenton car accident attorney may be able to help even if a driver was legally using a rideshare application in Florida.
Barriers to Recovering Compensation After a Rideshare Accident
Bradenton residents injured by a negligent rideshare driver may have difficulty recovering compensation without an attorney's help. Experienced personal injury lawyers around the country have discovered two main issues when fighting to recover damages for claimants injured in private ride-sourcing accidents.
Rideshare Drivers Without TNC Insurance
Florida law requires different minimum insurance limits depending on the status of the rideshare car at the time of an accident. If the driver is neither logged on nor engaged in an official ride, his or her normal car insurance policy should cover the accident. If the driver is logged on to the app but not engaged in a ride, he or she needs to have at least $50,000 in personal injury liability insurance per person ($100,000 per incident). A driver actively engaged in a rideshare must have at least $1,000,000 in liability insurance, which may be provided by the rideshare company. The car insurance policy must be a TNC policy, so that the insurance company knows how the vehicle is being used.
Insurance issues arise when a rideshare driver does not carry the proper TNC insurance policy. Normal car insurance policies disclaim liability for an accident that occurs if the driver is using the car as an illegal taxi or for commercial transportation purposes. This means passengers injured in a rideshare accident by drivers who do not carry TNC insurance may be limited to recovering damages directly from the negligent driver.
Most drivers do not have the money necessary to compensate passengers for serious car accident injuries, which is why Florida requires car insurance. The same is true if an improperly insured rideshare driver negligently injures a pedestrian or occupants of another vehicle while engaged in a rideshare. An experienced attorney may be able to recover compensation for injured victims through a rideshare company's umbrella insurance policy or an uninsured motorist policy, but this depends on the facts of the case.
Employees v. Independent Contractors in the Rideshare Industry
One major legal issue arising during rideshare litigation is whether drivers are considered employees of the rideshare company or independent contractors. This distinction is important because the rideshare companies are liable for their employees' negligence while working. Most car accidents are caused by driver negligence, so negligence is the primary claim used to recover personal injury damages in Florida.
However, if a driver employed by a rideshare company injures a passenger during a qualifying rideshare, that passenger may recover compensation directly from the rideshare company for his or her injuries, under a legal doctrine called vicarious liability.
A rideshare company is generally not liable for the negligence of independent contractors. The contractor is responsible for his or her own negligence. Many riders incorrectly assume that rideshare drivers are employees of the TNC. In most cases, however, rideshare drivers are independent contractors, not employees.
Florida law states that a rideshare driver is considered an independent contractor if all of the following are true:
- The driver sets his or her own hours, and is never required to work at a specific time.
- The driver is not prohibited from working for other rideshare companies.
- The driver is not restricted from engaging in any other job or occupation.
- There is a written agreement between the company and driver stating that the driver is an independent contractor.
Despite not being liable for the negligence of independent contractors, an experienced legal team may be able to recover compensation for injured claimants based on the rideshare company's own negligence.
Potential Negligent Hiring Claims Against Rideshare Companies
A TNC may be liable for injuries caused by a rideshare driver from a car accident or criminal assault, if the driver was considered an employee, the company was negligent during the retention process, and/or the TNC violated Florida rideshare law.
Rideshare companies often deny liability for a rideshare accident, but an experienced Bradenton rideshare lawyer may present contrary evidence. A legal professional will typically conduct a criminal background and driving check of the rideshare driver to determine whether he or she was hired in violation of Florida law. Even if the company did not violate the law, serious red flags appearing in a background check may support a claim that the rideshare company should have known the driver was a danger to others.
Florida also imposes a zero-tolerance policy for rideshare drug and alcohol abuse, and a TNC that fails to adequately address or suspend a driver after learning about substance-abuse concerns may be liable for injuries caused thereafter. The same is true if the rideshare company did not conduct a thorough background check or failed to recertify the driver every three years as required, as this contributed to a rider's injuries.
Bradenton Ridesharing FAQ
What is ridesharing, and which companies provide these services in Bradenton?
Ridesharing is a general term used to describe the services provided by companies such as Uber and Lyft. The state of Florida also uses terms such as “transportation network companies“ and “TNC drivers” when referring to Bradenton ridesharing services. These companies provide smartphone applications or platforms, through which users can summon car rides from local drivers. There are also lesser-known ridesharing services in Florida, which include carpooling applications or person-to-person rental car services. The central difference between ridesharing and taxi/shuttle services is that rideshare drivers typically work for themselves using their personal vehicles.
Is ridesharing legal in Bradenton?
Ridesharing is legal in Florida. Because the state is a major international tourist destination, Florida passed special ridesharing laws in 2017. Florida's transportation network company (TNC) law helps define the scope of a rideshare, as well as dictates the safety and insurance requirements required for rideshare drivers and companies to operate.
In Florida, a rideshare starts when the driver accepts a request for a ride through a digital network, such as a phone application, and ends when the last rider exits the vehicle. Riders are defined as those who use the digital network to request rides, or use the digital network to request a ride for someone else. Ridesharing does not include hailing a driver on the street, which occurs when a potential rider hails a ridesharing vehicle (often containing signs in the window) and arranges a ride without using the digital network.
In such cases, Florida ridesharing law does not protect the rider until that person summons the ride through the applicable digital medium. Failure to abide by certain safety, insurance, and disclosure requirements may result in criminal charges and financial penalties for the rideshare driver or company.
Is ridesharing the same as using a taxi or carpool?
No. Florida law specifically states that rideshare and TNC companies are not:
- Taxi drivers
- Common carriers
- Contract carriers
- For-hire vehicles
- Motor carriers
- Limo drivers
If a driver qualifies as a rideshare driver, he or she is not considered a taxi driver. Certain carpools may qualify as rideshare services if riders use a dedicated digital network to summon or arrange the carpool. Digital networks are defined as online technology services, such as applications or websites, that use a specific system to connect passengers with drivers. Bradenton residents who coordinate private carpools through text message, email, or at work are not rideshare passengers.
Are ridesharing drivers working privately or for the ridesharing company?
This issue has been litigated in multiple countries since rideshare services like Uber were first put into use. Most passengers don't think about the distinction between independent contractors and employees when summoning a ride, but it becomes very important if a passenger is injured in a Bradenton rideshare accident. If a rideshare driver is considered an employee of the rideshare company, then the company is generally liable for the injuries sustained in a rideshare accident. If a rideshare driver is considered an independent contractor, however, then the rideshare company is not traditionally liable for a driver's negligence.
The general rule is that rideshare drivers are independent contractors, not employees of the rideshare company.
Florida requires all of the following to be true for a driver to be considered an independent contractor:
- The driver sets his or her own hours, and is never required to work at a specific time.
- The driver is not restricted from engaging in any other job or occupation.
- The rideshare company does not prohibit the driver from working for more than one ridesharing company
- There is a written agreement between the rideshare company and driver stating that the driver is an independent contractor.
If one of the above is not true, then a driver may be considered an employee of the rideshare company. This means that the rideshare company could be directly liable for injuries suffered in a Bradenton rideshare car accident. For example, rideshare companies that penalize drivers for working with competitors may lose the legal protection afforded by hiring an independent contractor.
Do rideshare drivers have to carry special car insurance in Florida?
Yes. Florida law requires rideshare drivers and rideshare companies to carry special liability insurance when drivers are working. The insurance limits differ depending on whether the driver is using his or her personal vehicle, the driver is logged on and waiting for someone to summon a ride, or the driver is actively engaged in ridesharing.
Generally, qualified rideshare drivers or the rideshare company must carry the following minimum insurance to protect drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and other vehicles on the road:
- $50,000 in personal injury liability coverage per person ($100,000 per incident) and $25,000 in property damage if the driver is available for hire (logged on) but not actively working
- Personal Injury Protection (no-fault) insurance of $10,000 if the driver is available but not working
- $1,000,000 in liability insurance if the driver is actively engaged in a rideshare
- Basic uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
Surprisingly, actively working rideshare drivers are not required to carry no-fault insurance for passengers. The larger personal injury insurance policy would likely kick in to protect those injured in a Bradenton Uber or Lyft accident.
In addition to these minimum requirements, the insurance policy must identify the vehicle as a rideshare vehicle. Many Florida car insurance companies offer special insurance packages that comply with TNC insurance laws. These packages are expensive, so it's not uncommon for rideshare drivers to forgo these insurance requirements. Car insurance companies are permitted to deny injured passengers coverage if the rideshare driver did not maintain the proper rideshare insurance.
The law allows car insurance companies to exclude passengers from recovering for personal injuries or property damage under the vehicle's private insurance if the driver was logged on to the application or otherwise engaged in a rideshare. It's recommended that anyone injured in a Bradenton rideshare accident contact an experienced personal injury attorney before making an insurance claim.
Who's liable if I was injured while riding in a Bradenton Uber or Lyft?
Rideshare companies must comply with Florida law to obtain certain liability protections. Determining whether or not a passenger was injured in a legally recognized rideshare accident is the first step in assessing liability for an Uber or Lyft accident in Bradenton. It's also necessary to determine if the rideshare driver was considered an independent contractor or employee of the rideshare company at the time of the accident.
Assuming you were injured in a traditional rideshare accident, such as your Uber driver totaling the car while you were a passenger, the following parties may be liable for your injuries:
- The rideshare driver
- Another negligent driver
- An inebriated passenger who distracted the rideshare driver
- The rideshare company if the driver was an employee, was negligently retained, and/or the vehicle was unsafe
Rideshare companies are generally not liable for your injuries, even if you are a paying user of the application, provided the company properly vetted the driver and otherwise complied with Florida law. The rules for rideshare liability in Bradenton are similar to the rules for general car accident liability in Florida, unless a special situation applies.
How can I recover compensation if a rideshare driver injured me but I wasn't a passenger?
Anyone injured by a negligent rideshare driver, whether a pedestrian or occupant of another vehicle, may file a claim with the TNC driver's insurance company. The same rules typically apply to non-passengers and passengers alike. However, only rideshare users traditionally have a claim against a negligent rideshare company.
Can I sue a ridesharing company if another rideshare passenger injured me during a ride?
This typically depends on the rideshare application you were using. Some TNCs check the background of all users, including passengers, which can insulate them from liability for your injuries. Other rideshare companies allow anyone to use the application, and riders selecting shared rides to save money run the risk of riding with a dangerous or inebriated passenger.
Bradenton residents might have to file a claim with the rideshare company's insurance, and not the rideshare driver, in such cases when another user injured, stole from, or assaulted the rider in a shared vehicle. Drivers typically have no control over the persons permitted to register with and use a rideshare application. A rideshare driver may be liable, however, if he or she failed to take action to help or protect you during a rideshare assault.
Have there been reports of criminal conduct or sexual assault while using a ridesharing app?
Yes. There are certain dangers inherent in using a rideshare application, but Florida law sets stringent background check requirements before a rideshare company can contract with a driver. It's recommended that anyone injured by a rideshare driver's criminal actions immediately contact local police and a Bradenton rideshare attorney to discuss these complex claims.
Are ridesharing companies responsible if a rideshare driver assaults or steals from a passenger in Bradenton?
It may seem logical to sue a rideshare company for contracting with a dangerous driver, but the company is generally not liable for the actions of an independent contractor. Instead, Bradenton passengers injured by a rideshare driver's criminal actions may have a claim for negligent hiring, or even products liability for the failure to warn passengers of known risks through the application. The success rate of these claims depends on the specific terms of the ridesharing application and the extent to which the ridesharing company vetted and checked the background of its drivers.
How can I hold a ridesharing company liable for my injuries after a Bradenton car accident?
Bradenton claimants may be permitted to hold rideshare companies liable for their injuries if at least one of the following is true:
- The rideshare driver was considered an employee, not an independent contractor, of the rideshare company
- The rideshare company failed to comply with certain disclosure, reporting, and monitoring requirements under Florida law
- The rideshare company failed to abide by Florida's zero-tolerance policy for driver drug and alcohol use
- The rideshare company did not check the background of the driver, as required by Florida law
- The rideshare company knew there were unforeseeable dangers inherent in using their application in Bradenton, and failed to warn users of these dangers
If the rideshare company's violation contributed to the accident and your injuries, you may be able to hold both the driver and rideshare company liable for the harm. Many rideshare companies also offer umbrella insurance policies sufficient to cover a claimant's injuries, even if the company can't be sued directly. Laws of this nature are complex, and it's recommended that claimants seriously injured in a rideshare accident discuss their claims with a Bradenton personal injury attorney.
Can I sue a ridesharing company for negligently hiring a driver?
A company can be sued for negligent hiring in most states. In Florida, the TNC statute sets forth stringent hiring requirements for rideshare drivers.
Before a driver can start accepting rideshare clients through a digital platform, the rideshare company must:
- Review the driver's personal identifying and vehicle information for accuracy
- Put the driver through local, state, and national criminal background checks, which includes reviewing the national sexual offender registry
- Review the driver's driving history report for violations
- Conduct the same required criminal and driving checks every three years
A rideshare company cannot hire a driver if he or she has more than three traffic violations in the past three years, was convicted of a serious crime in the past five years, is a sexual offender, does not have a license, does not provide proper TNC vehicle registration, and/or was convicted for driving with a suspended license in the past three years. If the rideshare company fails to comply with these requirements, it may be liable for negligent hiring. Even if it complied, a rideshare company may still be liable for negligent hiring if it was clear from the driver's criminal or driving history that he or she posed a danger to passengers and the public.
Work With a Knowledgeable Bradenton Rideshare Lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
Recovering compensation from a negligent rideshare company may be difficult, but it could be possible with the help of an experienced rideshare lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Don't let an insurance provider or TNC deny your claims because you were involved in a rideshare accident. Contact our Bradenton rideshare liability team online for a free, no-obligation accident evaluation.
With offices across both Florida coasts, including Bradenton, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can write to us using our online contact page.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 613-5747
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