New Laws in New Jersey Provide Additional Protections for Consumers of Ride Sharing Companies such as Uber and Lyft
What these new laws mean for passengers and why there’s still room for improvement
Public transportation options such as buses, trains and subways have long been a staple in metropolitan areas. As more and more people eschew owning personal cars in favor of mass transit, an increased need for modern transportation alternatives has arisen. Ride sharing companies have grown exponentially in recent years with statistics indicating that the industry experienced a 63% increase in 2015 alone. Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular ride sharing apps and provide a relatively seamless process for requesting a ride to any destination at a time of the riders choosing.
The advent of ride sharing has not been without controversy particularly in the regulatory and legal arena. Conflicts between state laws and ride sharing company policies have led to significant legal hurdles and even resulted in companies choosing to abandon certain cities. To avoid the potential loss of Uber, Lyft and other companies in New Jersey, lawmakers recently enacted legislation to address these concerns while also implementing increased protections for consumers.
One of the primary areas of concern consumers and government officials have with ride sharing companies is the lack of screening procedures for drivers. Ride-share drivers are classified as independent contractors as opposed to employees and as such are not subject to strict laws. However, with this new legislation, drivers must now pass a background check and are prohibited from employment if they have a prior history of convictions for driving under the influence, drug possession, sexual assault or homicide. While this adds a certain level of protection, critics of ride sharing argue that drivers should also be fingerprinted to eliminate potential errors or lapses that may be present in standard background checks.
Another significant area of concern is the issue of liability. An accident involving a ride share operator brings several parties into the conversation including the ride-share driver, ride sharing company and passengers. Who is liable for injuries in this type of accident? To settle potential conflicts, New Jersey enacted a law that requires ride sharing companies to maintain $1.5 million in liability and underinsured/uninsured coverage for passengers. This coverage can be held through the driver, company or both and eliminates potential burdens due to an underinsured or uninsured driver. Unfortunately, it is difficult to fully understand ride sharing accident statistics because safety data is classified as proprietary information and is exempt from public records disclosure laws.
However, it is important to remember that you still have rights if you’re involved in an accident caused by a ride-share driver. If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident involving a ride-share driver, contact the experienced New Jersey accident attorneys at Leonard Legal Group for a free initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call 973-984-1414 or send an email today.