SC Legislators Consider Bill Approving Ride-Sharing Platforms
Posted on behalf of Harbin & Burnett on Apr 14, 2015 in Auto Accidents
Uber is a California-based technology company that offers a ride-sharing application that links drivers and passengers in cities across America and the world.
Like its rival, Lyft, Uber has been mired in legal battles as states attempt to regulate the company. Uber allows drivers to download their apps as independent drivers and wait for passengers in need of a ride to hail them via apps on their phones.
The companies have been touted for decreasing the number of auto accidents related to drinking and driving behavior.
A Senate subcommittee in South Carolinas legislator has unanimously approved a transportation bill that authorizes Uber and other ride-sharing companies, including Lyft, to operate legally in South Carolina.
For some time now, the South Carolina Public Service Commission had banned Uber and the company was operating under a temporary license. This temporary license will remain in effect until legislators produce a bill regulating Uber.
The details of that bill and the amount of regulation to which Uber and Uber drivers will be subject remains to be seen. Lawmakers in the state are divided on whether the Uber drivers need additional insurance coverage to operate.
A similar bill passed by a House subcommittee requires insurance coverage, a provision that is lacking in the Senate bill. The two competing bills will be reconciled once both houses have approved final version.
Uber Insurance Issues
One of the key legal challenges to Ubers operation in select cities concerns the provision of insurance. At issue is who is responsible for accidents involving Uber and Lyft drivers.
When an Uber or Lyft driver is in an accident when he or she is not carrying a passenger, neither the drivers personal insurance coverage nor the company's insurance will cover the damages.
This problem is being called gap-coverage. Gaps in the insurance coverage of drivers occurs because personal insurance coverage does not cover accidents when Uber and Lyft drivers are using their vehicles for commercial purposes. On the other hand, Uber and Lyft insurance policies only cover drivers when a passenger is in the car. If a passenger is not in the car, and the driver is on his way to pick up or look for passengers, Uber and Lyft disavow liability.
Several states, including California, have proposed new insurance schemes that can help bridge the lapse in insurance in some cases.
It will be interesting to see if the South Carolina legislature produces similar recommendations.
South Carolinas auto accident lawyers at Harbin & Burnett understand that the new ride-sharing economy has grave implications.