Welcome to the New World of transportation. A taxi? What’s that? Most people now turn to their smartphone for an Uber (or Lyft) ride. Actually, the New World of ride-sharing services (“Transportation Network Companies”, as they’re known legally), have been around since about 2016 or so. While many people are familiar with how they can summon and pay for a ride-sharing service on their smartphones, very few people know how the legal system works in Massachusetts if they are injured either while a passenger in an Uber or Lyft ride, or hit and injured as a pedestrian by an Uber or Lyft driver. This is a really important topic.
Actually, “old-style” taxis and cabs, are a good jumping-off point to discuss the legal and liability insurance differences with ride-sharing services. I’ll try not to bore you here, so here’s the short version: Because of the powerful political influence that the conventional taxi industry carried on Beacon Hill for many, many years, taxis and cabs in Massachusetts were only required to carry bare minimums in bodily injury liability insurance coverage on their vehicles – a paltry $20,000 in liability coverage. An amount that low would barely cover the bills and expenses that a person injured in a Massachusetts taxi accident would likely face: Hospital & medical bills, lost wages and compensation for pain & suffering. For many years, if you were injured in or by a taxi, you’d have to hope that your damages were very low.
Thankfully, that liability picture has changed with the explosion of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Now, if an Uber driver in Massachusetts is negligent and causes an accident that results in someone’s injury, passengers and pedestrians have expanded legal options in seeking compensation for their injuries. The Massachusetts Ride Sharing Bill, which became law in August 2016, created the state’s first regulations for ride-sharing services like Uber. Under this law, such drivers must now carry at least $50,000 of coverage for bodily injury claims per individual, a minimum of $100,000 of coverage for bodily injury claims per accident and $30,000 of coverage for property damage, uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection. (We can explain all those to you when you call us.) The transportation network company must pay for excess insurance coverage, above those limits. The cost of this liability insurance coverage is shared by both Uber corporate and individual Uber drivers. A massive improvement from the measly $20,000 of coverage that the taxi industry got away with for years, no? That’s great news! As Massachusetts Uber accident lawyers, that enables us to obtain far higher financial damages and compensation for clients injured in Uber accidents.
Uber: Quick & Easy, But Safe?
Here’s the not-so-great news: Uber drivers have no special training or talents when it comes to driving: They’re just the average Massachusetts driver out there (meaning, probably a really bad driver – sad but true here in Massachusetts.) While under Massachusetts law Uber rivers must operate their vehicles with the same care that a “reasonable person” would, don’t count on that happening. Ride-sharing drivers engage in the same unsafe driving habits such as speeding, distracted driving in the form of texting, using GPS or even eating in the car, that other drivers engage in.
Translation: While getting a ride from an Uber driver on your smartphone may be relatively quick and easy, don’t count on it being necessarily safe. If you’re injured either as a passenger in an Uber vehicle, or injured as a pedestrian by an Uber driver, call us or send us this Contact Form. We’ve obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars for our clients injured in Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents, and whether the vehicles involved are private passenger vehicles, trucks or other commercial vehicles, or ride-sharing vehicles like Uber and Lyft, we can help make sure that you’re compensated to the maximum extent that the law provides for your injuries and related damages. We successfully represent injured auto accident clients throughout eastern Massachusetts, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Dedham, Norwood, Waltham, Newton, Quincy, Dedham, Worcester, the South Shore, the North, and Springfield.
Don’t sign nay paperwork until you talk to an experienced Massachusetts Uber accident attorney – that paperwork is designed to confuse you and limit your legal rights!