Ask Florida locals if they believe Uber’s launch has been good for our state, and the answer will vary vastly depending on the person. An Uber driver might tell you that Uber’s launch has been great—as an independently contracted driver, they can work whenever and wherever they please, and make extra money during busy times. But if you ask a local taxi driver, a senior citizen, or a victim of an Uber driver assault, they might not sound as thrilled with the arrival of the ride-sharing company.
But despite opposition from both local groups and the Public Transportation Commission, Uber is mere steps away from being able to legally operate in Florida, because the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has just confirmed that Uber’s insurance policy meets the requirements of the state’s insurance code. Regulators maintained that the policy appears to follow typical business auto policies, but deferred to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on whether it provides ample coverage under the Florida Financial Responsibility Law—a law that holds drivers monetarily accountable for the damages they cause.
While the legality of Uber’s insurance policy is a big concern—will you be covered in the event of an Uber-related accident as a passenger or pedestrian?—it isn’t the only pressing issue surrounding the ride-share company. Before getting into the passenger seat of an Uber car, there are some additional risks and concerns you should consider.
Uber’s legality issues
Uber may be close to being legal in the state of Florida, but until it is, your driver can be cited for driving without a commercial license. Since the company’s launch, drivers across Florida have been cited with fines of up to $500. Until new laws pass that legalize ride sharing, you may be stopped and questioned by law officials if you’re seen riding in an Uber vehicle.
Uber’s sexual abuse and assault history
Across the country, there have been multiple accounts of Uber drivers behaving inappropriately and abusing their passengers. Many women have reported being sexually assaulted, while others have reported being attacked or trapped by their drivers.
Though there are certainly risks of taking a taxi, cab riders at least have the peace of mind knowing that their drivers were hired by a government-licensed company. Should a cab driver act hostilely or break the law, these companies will be held accountable.
Uber, on the other hand, conveniently exempts itself from taking responsibility for their drivers. In their terms and conditions, the company states, “You understand, therefore, that by using the application and the service, you may be exposed to transportation that is potentially dangerous, offensive, harmful to minors, unsafe or otherwise objectionable.” When you jump into an Uber car, you’re doing so at your own risk.
Uber’s surge pricing
Unlike taxi companies, which are prohibited from raising their prices during busy times, Uber hikes its prices when demand is high. That means that during busy events—such as football games, festivals, and holidays—you can be charged multiple times the normal amount. Riders have complained of having to pay hundreds of dollars for rides that normally would cost less than $50.
Uber’s ability to discriminate
In order to use Uber, you need to have a smartphone and a credit card, which leaves out about half of the Florida population. Elderly and low-income residents are commonly among those excluded from this group.
What’s more, Uber’s rating system allows drivers to rate their passengers in order to inform other drivers of which users to avoid. If you so much as rub the driver the wrong way, he or she can give you a low rating, and you can be denied service in the future.
Even if Uber’s insurance policy is deemed acceptable by the appropriate governing bodies in Florida, there are still many risks and issues surrounding the company. If you or a loved one has suffered injury in an Uber-related incident, you may be entitled to compensation. Don’t let a careless or irresponsible driver cause you undue financial suffering—contact a contact a Florida car accident lawyer with experience in ride-sharing cases.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”