Several companies are revolutionizing the traditional transportation-for-hire industry. Today anybody can get a ride from a local private driver for a reduced rate at a click of an app on a smartphone. But changing the transportation-for-hire landscape has some wondering whether this new way to get a ride culture needs more regulation to keep the public safe. Currently states have very little regulation of this industry outside of typical traffic laws.
Unlike these new companies, historically the taxicab industry has been heavily regulated by Florida laws. For example, taxicab drivers are required to carry minimum insurance requirements that far out number the requirements of private drivers. And since private drivers are becoming the new taxicab drivers for these companies, some lawmakers are worried. One Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill that would increase insurance minimums for these online taxicab companies. Additionally, many taxicab companies require their drivers to go through extensive training and background screening before they are allowed to drive.
Florida Bill to Increase Insurance Minimum
SB 1298 is the proposed legislation at issue. Essentially the bill would allow Florida to establish insurance minimums for drivers who provide rides for a fee through an online service. It is expected that the insurance requirements would mirror the insurance requirements that current taxicab companies face. This proposal would be aimed at not only protecting the public, but also making sure that all the companies are playing on an even level.
The companies that would be affected do not support the law. According to at least one executive, current insurance minimums are more than enough to protect drivers and passengers alike.
Online Companies and Drivers Not Exempt from Negligence Laws
Whether new laws are passed that regulate online taxi-like services or not, other Florida laws are in full effect. Florida's negligence laws apply to any driver on Florida's roads, and if those drivers are employed by a company, the company may be liable as well through respondeat superior. Respondeat superior is a legal doctrine that makes companies responsible for the conduct of their employees, as long as the employee is acting within the scope of their job. Under Florida law there are three parts to whether someone is acting within the scope of their job:
- Was the employee doing the kind of work he or she was employed to do?
- Did the harmful act happen during the time when the employee is supposed to be working?
- Was the employee acting, at least in part, on behalf of the employer?
As you can see, if a driver for one of these online companies got in an accident, all of these elements could be met. That means that not only the driver would be liable, but the company could be as well.
Contact an Attorney Today
Wes Pittman has dedicated his career to fighting for the rights of the injured. If you are injured in an accident involving a taxicab, a driver for an online taxicab-like company, or anyone else, contact The Pittman Firm to ensure that you are fairly and justly compensated for any damages.