Transportation network companies, or TNCs, are here to stay. Peer-to-peer ridesharing services connect passengers who need a ride with drivers with automobiles through a smartphone app. Anyone who has ever had to hail a taxicab or order a car service for a ride to the airport is familiar with TNCs. Gone is the taxicab dispatcher. You do not have to call anyone and no money or tip is exchanged during the ride. The software handles the communication between the driver and passenger and the payment for the service.
Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar operate as TNCs in Southern California. These services are widely popular with the public at large. If you use TNCs or are in a non-TNC vehicle you should expect to be in or know someone who will be in an auto accident with a TNC vehicle. If you are a passenger in a TNC or a passenger in the non-TNC vehicle and there is an accident that causes you serious injury or harm, what should you do?
The Driver Owns the TNC Vehicle
TNC vehicles are the personal vehicles of the TNC driver. In addition to auto insurance from the TNC, the driver's personal auto insurance may also apply if you are a passenger and the car you are riding in is involved in an auto accident with a TNC vehicle.
TNCs in California are Regulated
The California Public Utilities Commission regulates TNCs. They issue licenses to companies to operate as a TNC and require the company to:
- Conduct a criminal background check of all drivers;
- Have a driver training program;
- Have a drug and alcohol zero tolerance policy; and
- Have $1,000,000 minimum per incident insurance coverage.
On July 1, 2015, new laws and regulations went into effect that mandate when TNC insurance policy applies when there is an auto accident. The distinguishing and critical factor is timing. The law takes into account three periods of time. Each period has a corresponding auto insurance requirement. Contact an experienced auto accident attorney for case evaluation. The three periods are as follows:
- App open but waiting for a match - the driver has logged into the mobile TNC application but has not accepted a ride yet;
- Match accepted but passenger not yet picked up - the driver accepted ride and is in route to pick-up the passenger; or
- Passenger in vehicle - the passenger has been picked up, the ride commences and continues up to arrival at the passenger's final destination.
What to Do if You are a Passenger in a Vehicle Involved in a Car Crash With a TNC
Collect contact information and auto insurance information from all drivers (TNC and non-TNC). Some drivers work for multiple TNCs - make sure you have the TNC's auto insurance information for the service you are using, or if you are a passenger in the other vehicle ask the driver or police to document the name of the service and corresponding auto insurance information.
Timing is everything with these accidents. Contact a lawyer to help you determine the right entity to sue. The Law Offices of Brian Brandt work to make things right, one case at a time. Proudly serving accident victims in Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire, and throughout Southern California since 1987. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.