Tag Archives: Transportation Network Companies Legislation

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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‘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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