The Florida Legislature is open for business in 2016 and they have been active already. We previously posted an article asking the question about what protections were available in ride-share vehicles (Uber, Lyft). Well the Florida House Economic Affairs Committee voted on Wednesday, 13-2, to advance a House Bill 509 providing state-wide regulations on ride-share companies. Representative Matt Gaetz (R) sponsored the bill, which lays out the groundwork to provide consumer protection for drivers and passengers in Florida. There is a similar bill in the Senate (SB 1118), which was sponsored by Senator David Simmons (R). Here are some of the highlights of the bills presented, that may soon be the law in Florida.
- Drivers would be required to carry $50,000 bodily injury per person and $100,000 bodily injury per incident during the time the driver is actively in route to pick-up a passenger;
- Driver would be required to carry a minimum of $1 million in bodily injury coverage once the passenger was in the vehicle;
- Personal Injury Protection benefits must be carried if a passenger is in the vehicle; and
- Strict criminal background checks and driver safety requirements, including safe driving records.
The bill as written does have some shortfalls, which will make for an interesting debate moving forward. For example, HB 509 allows the ride-share companies to exclude uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is particularly important since Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury coverage, meaning some passengers could be left without recourse. Another interesting aspect of the bill is that is carves out a distinction that drivers can be considered, “independent contractors” if certain criteria is met. What does that mean for injured persons – you likely do not have a cause of action against the ride-share company for negligence. This means that is your injuries far exceed the policy coverage, you cannot go after the ride-share company to cover any medical expenses or damages.
Additional concern has been raised by Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner (R) who believes the legislation interferes with city/county regulations that have already been established. The loudest voice against the proposed legislation: the taxi-cab industry. Their concern is that the bill gives these ride-share companies a lower financial burden, for example it only requires these companies to pay $5,000 in annual fees to the state, while taxi companies pay over $10,000.
According to the Sun Sentinel, “[m]ore than 20 states have already passed laws regulating Uber and Lyft. According to Uber public policy manager Stephanie Smith, the laws are similar enough that drivers for ride-sharing companies can expect the same regulations if they move from state to state.” The bill will now move to the Florida House floor for a full vote from all the Representatives. For more information or to voice your opinion, please contact your local state representative.
Obtaining his law degree from the Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law—also known as the Barry Law School—Mr. Primrose received high honors in the Litigation Honors Certificate program before graduating in 2013. That same year, he joinedWooten Kimbrough, P.A. where he focused on litigating personal injury matters.