The quickly growing ride-sharing service, Uber, recently started operating in Florida and they are pushing hard to expand here in Tampa. Uber competes with taxi and limo services by connecting potential riders with drivers through their mobile app. Competition brings lowers prices for consumers, so it’s all good, right?
While Uber and the Public Transportation Commission fight over who should be able to do what and how they should do it, Uber is still operating in Tampa. Their drivers are receiving some pretty stiff fines ($800?!?), but Uber corporate claims they are paying for all fines and legal services incurred by their drivers.
Uber has also taken another big step in the accountability department. As of 2013, Uber has held an insurance policy with $1,000,000.00 of coverage per incident. Uber’s uninsured/underinsured motorist policy also protects riders with $1,000,000.00 in coverage if an accident was caused by the other driver.
Despite Uber’s coverage, a pending case in California is testing the extent of that coverage. On New Year’s Eve 2013, 6-year-old Sofia Liu was hit and killed by an Uber driver who failed to yield for her in a cross-walk. Uber has denied responsibility because the driver was not carrying a fare and was not responding to a request for a pick-up at the time of the accident. After using Uber myself while in San Francisco, I can almost assure you the driver was circling an area with heavy ride request numbers, just waiting for his next request for a pick-up.
Coverage in Florida
Sofia Lui’s tragic case will provide a precedent for how far Uber’s coverage should extend. Just because Uber claims their drivers are independent contractors doesn’t mean Florida courts will prevent riders seriously injured by Uber drivers from being compensated under Uber’s $1,000,000.00 policy. At Hillsborough Defense, we believe Uber should be liable when their drivers cause accidents while they are giving rides, responding to requests for pick-up, and while they are logged-on to their Uber app waiting to make a profit off potential riders. If you or a loved one has been injured by an Uber driver, call Hillsborough Defense today to discuss your options.