Personal Injury Lawyers

Baltimore Car-Sharing Motorists at Risk

Car sharing services have become increasingly popular in Baltimore, Ellicott City, Clarksville and surrounding areas. The prevalence of these services exists because drivers can make money by offering rides and passengers can find affordable and convenient transportation. While this may seem like a great system, a personal injury lawyer knows that there are some significant risks for those using a car sharing

Liability Issues with Car Sharing

Both passengers and drivers face big risks when they participate in ride or car sharing services like Lyft or Uber. Drivers are at risk of being sued if they cause a crash, for which they may not have adequate insurance coverage. Passengers are at risk of getting hurt in a collision and not being able to find an appropriate defendant to take legal action against in order to recover full compensation.

Forbes recently took a close look at who can be held legally liable after an accident happens when a driver is operating his vehicle as a de facto taxi. The companies that facilitate this process are generally going to be immune from liability.

These companies typically work by providing an app that people download. The app then connects passengers with drivers. The car sharing company does not employ the drivers, and it is not responsible for the driver’s actions. Instead, the drivers are independent contractors. Further, the car sharing company will typically make passengers sign a release of liability promising not to hold the company accountable if a problem happens or something goes wrong.

Because of the liability release and the fact that the driver is not an employee, passengers are not able to pursue a damage claim against the company after a crash. In most cases, neither are other motorists, pedestrians or bicycle riders who may be harmed by a careless car-sharing driver. Not only does the independent contractor relationship protect the company, but the Communications Decency Act may provide protection as well. The car sharing companies claim to provide an informational service only, and are thus not accountable for what the individual drivers do.

If the company cannot have a claim made against it when a driver is careless, pursuing a case against the driver is typically going to be the only option for injured victims. Sometimes, however, the driver does not have insurance coverage for the crash or the coverage is insufficient.

Many private insurance companies, including State Farm, have declined to provide auto insurance coverage for ride sharing services. Geico also will not cover motorists who drive for these types of services. SF Gate recently reported on leaked memos showing that Geico is very strict with making sure no coverage is provided. Geico staff members are instructed to group reject people who will be participating in car sharing. The leaked documents also contain a script that Geico staff should use to explain to policyholders that they'll need to get a different policy unless they can prove that they are no longer driving for Uber or any other related services.

The limitations on liability and restrictions on insurance coverage can put victims of crashes with car sharing drivers in a difficult position when it comes to recovering compensation for loss.

Accident lawyers in Baltimore, MD can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit Serving Baltimore, Ellicott City, Clarksville and surrounding areas.