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Pennsylvania Laws Concerning Transportation Network Companies & Implications for Individuals Harmed in a Motor Vehicle Collision

Transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are considered to serve the public, and based on a law recently passed in Pennsylvania, they will continue to operate throughout the entire commonwealth. The way people travel has changed, and as a result, there was statewide authorization for Senate Bill 984, enabling services like Lyft and Uber. The policy behind the bill was to both protect consumers and encourage the companies to continue their operations.

Transportation network companies provide prearranged transportation services by using a digital network. The Bill sets forth the conditions and framework for these companies.  It also includes protections for drivers as well as consumers, including insurance coverage information and criminal background checks for drivers. Notably, the bill makes clear that the companies can operate in Philadelphia, whereas previously this area was unable to access ride-sharing in a legal way.

While the passage of the bill is important, the increase in ride-sharing services has led to evolving regulations concerning insurance coverage for these self-titled “technology” companies. Following an accident with an Uber driver or a driver with another transportation network company, individuals may bring a personal injury claim for their damages. Determining who is liable for compensation, including for medical expenses, following an accident involving a ride-sharing company can be complicated.

Generally, the person who caused an accident is legally at fault for damages. Assessing legal options after an accident with a transportation network company vehicle requires looking at your role in the accident and at which party caused the collision. If another driver caused an accident with the vehicle in which you were riding, for example, you may file a claim against that party (or their insurer).  If that driver does not have enough insurance to cover your losses, the company’s insurance may provide coverage.  If the company driver caused an accident, you may file a claim with the company’s insurer.

Insurance issues following an accident with a transportation network company vehicle stem from the fact that the law is evolving, and there remain potential gaps in coverage, which expose drivers to liability for large costs. Some insurance companies offer policies specifically for drivers with transportation network companies. Drivers are highly encouraged to report to their personal auto insurance company if they are driving for a transportation network company.

According to the law, drivers must carry insurance that recognizes they work for a transportation network company.  For example, when the Uber app is turned on, the insurance coverage provided by the transportation network company begins. While logged into the ride-share network, the driver or their company is required to carry car insurance of at least $50,000 for death and injury per person, $100,000 for death and injury per incident, and $25,000 for property damage.

If an accident takes place while passengers are in the ride-sharing vehicle, or while the driver is en route to a fare, the company will cover medical costs and damages up to $1 million.  This is the case even if an underinsured or uninsured driver is involved. If an accident takes place while a driver is waiting for a fare, his or her own insurance provides coverage.

Since Uber and the ride-sharing industry are new, there are remaining legal complications.  Determining fault and liability can prove challenging, and liability may not be as clear as it is in other vehicle collisions.  It can be helpful to collect evidence at the scene and to retain contact information for parties and witnesses.

The motor vehicle collision attorneys at Needle Firm are skilled in advocating for Pennsylvania accident victims, including those harmed in collisions involving transportation network companies.   We provide a free case evaluation, and whether you’re a driver, passenger, or third party to an accident, we can help you understand your legal rights.  Contact us to pursue the full compensation to which you may be legally entitled. We can be reached by calling 570-344-1266.

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