Pennsylvania fined Uber $11.4 million in April for operating in the state without approval for six months during 2014. Uber appealed the fine and state regulators have now voted to reconsider the fine. Governor Tom Wolfe was among the officials who have requested that the commission substantially reduce the fine because fines of this magnitude could discourage other companies from investing in Pennsylvania. Uber has currently named Pittsburgh as its world headquarters and plans to conduct research and testing of self-driven vehicles from the location.
The recommended fine for Uber was $50 million; therefore, the fine of $11.4 million as less than the recommended fine but substantially higher than the $250,000 fine issued to Uber's main competitor, Lyft. The commission's concerns about the ridesharing company are similar to the concerns expressed in other states.
What Is Uber?
Uber is a ridesharing company that employs private drivers as independent contractors. Customers us an app downloaded to their smartphone to request a ride. The app locates the nearest Uber driver and connects the driver with the customer. The customer receives information about the driver including a name, picture, and vehicle description. The app even collects the fee for the rideshare so that the customer does not need to worry about cash to pay the driver.
Uber claims that it is an affordable and efficient alternative to public transportation. It also claims to give private individuals the ability to earn income using their own private vehicles. The problem many people have is who is responsible for damages if you are in an accident while riding in an Uber vehicle.
Insurance & Uber Drivers
States are handling the matter of insurance for Uber passengers in different ways, depending on the laws and regulations within the state. Uber drivers are like all other drivers - they sometimes cause a motor vehicle accident. When this occurs, who pays for the passenger's injuries and damages? This has been an ongoing battle since the very first Uber accident.
Uber claims that because the drivers are independent contracts and not employees of the company, Uber is not responsible for any damages resulting from an Uber accident. Some states disagree with this position. Even though Uber drivers are required to carry automobile insurance, the coverage amounts vary between drivers. Some Uber drivers carry maximum insurance coverage while some drivers carry minimum insurance coverage. This could be a problem in an accident with high-dollar damages; however, that is not the only problem.
Commercial Vehicle or Passenger Vehicle?
Many automobile insurance carriers are denying claims for Uber accidents stating the drivers do not have the correct automobile insurance coverage. Insurance companies deny claims based on the fact that the policy is for a "passenger vehicle" not a "commercial vehicle." The auto insurance companies are denying accident claims because they say drivers are operating a business without the proper insurance coverage.
Unfortunately, accident victims are the ones suffering the most from the debate over insurance coverage and liability in Uber accidents.
Have You Been Injured in an Uber Accident?
If so, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who can sort out the liability to protect your right to receive compensation for your injuries. Call Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLP to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Uber car accident attorney.