Category Archives: Transportation Network Companies

Taxi Companies Sue Miami-Dade For $1 Billion In Wake Of Uber Law

A class action lawsuit on behalf of three taxi cab operators is seeking up to $1 billion from Miami-Dade County, claiming a new county ordinance has severely decreased the value of the medallions required of cab owners.

The suit was filed one day after the Miami-Dade County Commission legalized ride-hailing providers such as Uber and Lyft.

“The effect of ‘regulating’ (Uber and Lyft) is to legalize, upon information and belief, upwards of ten thousand for-hire transportation providers in Miami-Dade County, and to thereby remove any and all disincentives or barriers to the increasing dilution of the for-hire transportation market in same,” the complaint states.

Lead plaintiff Miadeco Corp. brought the lawsuit along with B&S Taxi Corp. and Checker Cab Operations Inc.

“Give us equal protections under the law,” Coral Gables attorney Ralph Patino, who is representing the taxi companies, said at a news conference. “You cannot take away a property right without paying market value.”

The medallions, which were worth an average of $340,000 each in 2014, are necessary for the cab companies to operate. Taxi companies now say the medallions may only be worth $50,000. Patino said damages to the medallions would total $600 million to $700 million. He added that total is likely to reach $1 billion by the time a jury would hear the suit. Since county law treats the medallions as property, Patino is suing under the principal of inverse condemnation.

Taxi companies say Uber gets to play by different rules because the company’s fleet of part-time drivers, which number 10,000 in Miami-Dade alone, don’t need medallions. But Uber says the medallions allow cabs to park outside Miami International Airport and the area’s many hotels, whereas Uber drivers must be summoned first via the company’s phone app.

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Filed under Miami-Dade County, Transportation Network Companies

South Carolina Couple Sues Uber for Miami Beach Crash Aftermath

The Miami Herald reported on March 14, 2016, that Dr. Richard Day and wife Jean Day filed a lawsuit against Uber after being involved in a car accident.  Back in December, the couple traveled to Miami from South Carolina for a medical conference when they ordered an Uber. According to a police report and the lawsuit, the driver, Ingrid Parra, crashed when leaving the Eden Roc hotel in South Beach after failing to yield to oncoming traffic. While Dr. Day’s injuries included a broken leg, his wife received massive brain injuries that will require multiple surgeries.

This is the latest lawsuit against ride- sharing services involved in Miami Dade that points to drivers paying more attention to their smartphones than the road. This comes at a time when the county commission is considering legislation to regulate businesses such as Uber and Lyft.

The popularity of these ride-sharing services has skyrocketed in South Florida and across the country in recent years, but not without controversy. Back in November, Lyft was hit with a lawsuit by a family of a 29 year old woman after being thrown off her motorcycle when colliding with a ride share driver in Wynwood. Also, in January, Uber was sued by the relatives of a Miami Dade College student who was killed in a fiery crash in Kendall. The Uber driver was not faulted in this incident.

The predominance of ride- sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have given rise to fierce resistance from taxi drivers as well as local governments who struggle to legalize their procedures. Opposition to ride sharing services, claim Uber drivers violate vehicle for-hire rules, but the popularity has put enormous pressure on the commissioners. Broward County initially required fingerprinting the drivers but backed down when Uber threatened to leave the market last summer. After a Michigan Uber driver was arrested and charged with fatally shooting six people, Miami Dade commissioners have threatened to impose the fingerprinting requirement, which they will be voting on in May.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008), Transportation Network Companies

Pinellas County Woman Arrested for Allegedly Soliciting Services to Crash Victims

On March 18, 2016, Dana Nay, of Pinellas County, Florida was arrested after allegedly reaching out to car crash victims before the time permitted by law.

According to Florida Law, an attorney or medical practice are not allowed to solicit their services directly to a person in a motor vehicle accident within 60 days of a crash. Reports indicate that Nay had called the St. Petersburg Police Department claiming to work for a non-profit organization, Florida Accident Helpers, to gather names of recent car crash victims. The Florida Accident Helpers website claims to be a victim advocate service that is free to crash victims.

Investigators discovered that Nay was referring crash victims that she acquired from the police reports to a medical contractor who referred them to a medical group and attorneys. Nay was allegedly compensated for each referral.

The state reported that the majority of the people working for the records division where Nay requested the reports were suspicious but they felt compelled to fulfill her requests since she appeared to be representing a non-profit acting as a victim services program.

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Filed under Insurance Fraud, Transportation Network Companies

‘Uber Bill’ Cruises in Florida House

According to a Law360 article, on January 27, 2016, House Bill 509 passed through the state House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, requires drivers for transportation network companies (TNC’s) to pass background checks, obtain permits and meet insurance coverage minimums. The creation of H.B. 509 comes in response to concern from critics and supporters over TNC services being provided in compliance with state and local laws and making sure sufficient safety measures are in place.

“By cutting red tape for TNCs and other disruptive technologies, we are making Florida a state were innovation is welcomed and entrepreneurs are able to make their dreams a reality,” said Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.

The passage of the bill gained support from leading service providers Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. as well as business groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida, and Governor Rick Scott.

Recently, the Florida Senate passed a similar bill, regarding insurance issues and TNC’s. Senate Bill (S.B.) 1118, sponsored by Senator David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, did not address permitting or background checks and notably did not include a provision in H.B. 509, which preempts local regulation on these services.

The two bills differ in their insurance requirements. H.B. 509 requires drivers or TNCs to provide at least $50,000 for death and bodily injury per incident, $100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident, and $25,000 for property damage when the driver has the transportation network company’s app on but no passengers.  This is contrary to S.B. 1118 that calls for levels of $125,000, $250,000 and $50,000, respectively, any time they have their ride-hailing app turned on.

Matt Gore, general manager for Uber in Florida, said “We hope the Senate works quickly to take up this issue, and for Florida to join more than 20 states across the country that have permanently secured the benefits of expanded access to safe transportation options and flexible work opportunities.”

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008), Transportation Network Companies

Florida Uber Driver Insurance Bill Gains traction

On January 19, 2016, the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance committee unanimously advanced an “Uber bill” that would set statewide insurance standards for drivers of ride-sharing services. The panel voted 10-0 to send Senate Bill 1118 to the next step in the legislative process.

The senate bill was filed by Senator David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, and sets separate minimum coverage requirements for when drivers are personally using their vehicles and when drivers are logged into transportation network companies’ apps.

The bill would require transportation network company drivers to carry primary automobile insurance coverage of at least $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident, and $25,000 for property damage, under Simmons’ bill. Also, the insurer must be aware that the driver provides TNC services, and the policy must still apply while the driver is logged into a TNC app to receive ride requests but is not in the act of transporting a paying passenger, according to the bill.

“There exists no mechanism in the state of Florida to require that the company even have any insurance,” Simmons said. “My goal is to provide coverage to the person who is the driver and the riders and the persons who may be injured as third parties in the event of an accident.”

S.B. 1118 also provides definitions of TNCs, drivers and other elements of the service, and requires that TNCs cooperate with any claims investigations, including providing precise times that a driver logged on and off the company’s digital network for the 12-hour periods immediately before and after an accident.

The bill aims to go into effect January 1, 2017, and includes a section preempting local governments from imposing any insurance requirements on TNCs.

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Filed under FL Legislation, Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2012), Insurance, Transportation Network Companies

Florida Insurance Commissioner discusses TNCs

On December 4, 2015, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty discussed insurance issues related to Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) in an interview with the Florida Taxicab Association (FTA). McCarty stated during the interview that gaps in insurance coverage for companies such as Uber and Lyft exist and that consumers should be aware of the gaps. He also stated that the Legislature should try to regulate TNCs as well as educate the public on the issues dealing with these insurance gaps.

FTA believes that all drivers should have coverage at all times regardless of how the vehicle is being used. Roger Chapin, a FTA Board Member and Mears Transportation Executive, stated that “We are not against TNCs, we just believe that instead of policy makers asking what can they do to accommodate Uber’s business plan, they should simply be asking what they should be doing to protect the traveling public and their constituents.”

In Florida, taxis are required to have “commercial” insurance, which provides coverage regardless whether the taxi is on duty, off duty, or if the driver is using the taxi for personal use. Uber on the other hand has many gaps in insurance coverage since it relies on the individual’s personal car insurance.

According to Chapin, “The Uber model of ‘sharing’ a driver’s personal insurance to accommodate their commercial business plan means essentially every UberX driver in Florida is committing insurance fraud. “

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Filed under Florida, Insurance, Transportation Network Companies

Broward County Debates Rules for Ride-Sharing Companies

On September 17, 2015, Broward County commissioners debated on the proposed ordinance to clear a path for Transportation Network Companies (TNC) such as Uber Technologies Inc. However, ride-sharing services and supports will have to wait for the Commission’s vote on October 13, according to a Law360 article.

The Commissioners debated over complex set of rules ranging from insurance to vehicle inspection standards to monitoring airport trips for TNC’s. On September 11, 2015, Attorney Mark J. Stempler of Becker & Poliakoff sent a letter to county leaders warning that the proposed amendments would result in significant conflicts with state insurance requirements on for-hire vehicles. Stempler represents Yellow Cab of Broward and international transportation provider Go Airport Shuttle. Stempler criticized the counties’ proposals to allow a six-month moratorium on state laws for TNC applications and to leave monitoring of TNC drivers’ insurance coverage in the companies’ hands.

“At a minimum, Broward’s proposed ordinance amendments places safety and welfare of the public at increased risk,” he said.

During the Commission meeting, the commissioners rejected a proposal to all TNCs to have only a regional agent and not a physical office in South Florida and requiring that all TNCs must enter a service agreement with Fort Lauderdale International Airport and Port Everglades.

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Filed under Transportation Network Companies