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Pending Rideshare Legislation Could Have Big Consequences for Personal Injury Victims
The New Normal
As a kid, your parents probably told you not to get in a car with someone you don’t know, but nowadays taking a ride from a stranger is nothing new. Taxis, buses, and airport shuttles have been around for ages. Now, rideshare companies have skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade with Uber and Lyft becoming household names. Uber employs millions of drivers, has hundreds of millions of active platform users, and facilitated a reported 7.62 billion completed trips in 2022.
When there’s a new booming industry, legislators try hard to keep up and regulate, and Uber and Lyft have been at the forefront of many legislative discussions in the past few years. In January of 2023, Texas State Representative Jeff Leach, who serves as the Chair of the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee, proposed a new bill (HB 1745). This bill would give rideshare companies a huge legal advantage to protect themselves from claims and lawsuits brought against them. This new bill is pending and not yet a law. However, if it passes, the new law would be detrimental to personal injury victims that have been hurt while driving or riding in an Uber or Lyft or who have been crashed into by an Uber or Lyft driver.
What Is in HB 1745?
The bill states the specific requirements for filing a lawsuit against a rideshare company. To break it down, the bill requires any party bringing a lawsuit against a rideshare company to submit an affidavit specifying exactly how the rideshare company was negligent and the factual basis for each claim. Another affidavit signed by an expert that can attest to the damages suffered must also be submitted.
If the required affidavits are not submitted in time, the case will be dismissed with prejudice. The rideshare company can only be held liable if they have not fulfilled their obligations to the driver under Chapter 2402, Occupations Code or if they have committed a crime under state or federal law. You can read the full text of the bill here.
Why Does This Matter?
With most lawsuits, the initial filing consists of a complaint, petition, or motion. At the time of the initial filing, attorneys will typically have some information about the case from the police report, but a lot of information will be uncovered later while preparing the case.
The lawsuit process is usually the main kick-starter for gathering evidence. If this bill becomes law, plaintiffs would be required to submit a sworn document that states their legal claims and the facts behind the claims before any investigation can even take place. They’d have to swear to evidence that they haven’t had a chance to look at or even uncover yet.
Additionally, plaintiffs would be required to find and hire an expert to attest to their damages. Experts can be expensive. Not only that but according to the bill, the requirement of an expert wouldn’t even affect the status of the lawsuit. If the expert states that the damages suffered are below or above the state requirement, the bill doesn’t require that the case be thrown out or kept based on the assessment. To put it plainly, the requirement of an expert is a pointless hoop for injured victims to jump through.
The fact is riders and drivers will bear the brunt of the consequences if this bill passes. The costs of getting injured are huge if you think about ambulance rides, treatment bills, and lost wages. Sometimes injuries are severe enough that they require complicated surgeries, amputations, or cause permanent disfigurement. Not only are bills costly, but costs to victims’ physical, mental, and emotional health are equally as devastating. Overall, the possibilities for injuries and damages suffered from a crash in an Uber or Lyft are endless. This bill would require those already suffering to take on more costs and hire an expensive expert before they’re even able to present their claim to the court.
There are plenty of other issues that could arise if this bill passes. All liability placed on rideshare companies would disappear, and therefore, they would have no incentive to protect their customers. Why would they go above and beyond to protect and support their drivers and passengers if it’s virtually impossible to sue them?
This new bill would give protection to the companies facilitating the most driving (remember those 7.62 billion trips?), creating the most risk, and are the most capable of bearing the costs. People driving to work, taking kids to school, and getting groceries—ultimately driving not for profit—are put in more danger and forced to bear the brunt of the costs and consequences.
What Can You Do?
If you plan on riding with a rideshare company, make sure to protect yourself by increasing your insurance coverage and getting the highest UM/UIM coverage available. If you drive for a rideshare company, first make sure your own insurance will cover you while you are working. Some insurance companies require a specific rideshare policy if you work for a rideshare company. Otherwise, you’re left with just the company’s insurance, and you won’t want to rely on them to cover you. Chances are, you won’t be able to get much—if anything—from Uber or Lyft if you’re involved in a crash, so find a rideshare policy and get the highest coverage you can. You want to make sure that your insurance can cover you if you need it. If not, you could be footing huge expenses all out of your own pocket.
If you’ve been involved in a crash caused by someone else’s negligence, we can help. At Snellings Law, we have a team of trial lawyers and attorneys with the knowledge and experience needed to tackle these types of complex cases. We know what experts are needed and will work to get you the full settlement you deserve. Our entire team will be with you every step of the way. Call us at 214-387-0387 to set up a free strategy session with an attorney today.
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