Understanding the New "Uber" Law in Virginia
The Virginia General Assembly passes hundreds of laws each year. Many are silly and inconsequential. Others promote special interests. However, the new "Uber" or ridesharing statute is an important boost to public safety. Uber of course uses an app where you can often save significantly over using regular taxis. In principle it is a great idea. It allows extra income for many, save money for customers, and hopefully is an inexpensive option for those of us who have a few drinks when we go out.
Here's the problem that has concerned me since these services gained popularity: Say you are in an accident either caused by a negligent Uber driver or by an uninsured motorist hitting an Uber vehicle. If you look at your auto insurance policy it expressly excludes coverage for using your car for hire (i.e. operating a taxi service). So if you are an Uber driver and you have a private auto policy it may not provide any protection if your are driving someone for hire. Well this statute should solve the problem by requiring $1,000,000 in coverage. At least one insurance company is offering coverage to Uber and Lyft drivers.
What should you do if you are injured by ridesharing driver or you are in a ridesharing vehicle and injured by someone else on the road? Naturally you should get medical attention if you need it first. Secondly you should report the collision to the police. Thirdly, this is a complex area of law that is changing rapidly so you need to get reliable legal advice. A claim needs to be set up with the Uber driver's insurance, the other driver's insurance if it is a multi-vehicle accident, and lastly with your own auto insurance.
Why would you report it to your own auto insurance policy? Won't it just raise your rates? Actually it is unlikely to raise your insurance premiums. You may be able to assert a claim for medical expenses with your insurer. We do not charge a fee for filing a medical payments claim with our client's own insurer. Additionally your own insurance policy may provide excess coverage and even primary coverage if the other drivers are uninsured.
If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact me to help you navigate this new area of law.