Uber and Lyft have been deemed illegal again, according to Philly.com, after the same transportation services had been operating for at least a year in 2015. While Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission allowed UberX to operate in the state, it did not allow for the company’s operation in Philadelphia, where the Philadelphia Parking Authority has jurisdiction over taxi cabs and related services. Officials have estimated that the city has approximately 12,000 Uber drivers providing rides for approximately 700,000 people over the last year. Because it is a different transportation model than taxis, the state is trying to pass a bill to set up a regulatory framework for the business.
Are Passengers Safe in Philadelphia?
Specifically with Uber and Lyft, drivers rely on their own vehicles and drivers’ licenses as opposed to obtaining a commercial license. The city’s Parking Authority has said that UberX is technically operating without a safety net for passengers or doing background checks on drivers, or performing vehicle inspections—basic requirements that keep passengers safe. This has prompted the agency to sue the company, seeking $300,000 in fines.
Uber feels that the company’s own background checks, vehicle inspection requirements, and commercial liability coverage (totaling $1 million) suffices. However, Uber drivers are technically “contractors” instead of “employees” with the company, meaning that if you are involved in an accident while using the service, any personal injury claim must be brought under the driver’s policy and the company’s general policy–the company itself cannot be sued.
In addition, any Uber driver in Philadelphia must obtain a PPA Chauffeur Permit. However, it is unclear how many drivers are complying with this permit requirement.
Courts may be closer to finding that Uber drivers are actually employees, which would allow any victims injured due to Uber closer to holding both the company and individual driver accountable for any negligence or injuries from accidents. Meanwhile, 45 Philadelphia taxi companies filed suit in federal court late last year alleging that Uber is waging unfair competition against taxi cab company owners who currently have to operate under state laws and regulations. Thus far, accident-related lawsuits against Uber (including a claim for wrongful death) have been settled by the company instead of going to trial.
In addition, legislation currently being considered by the Pennsylvania legislature would include stricter permitting requirements and require appropriate insurance coverage.
Solnick & Associates
The Pennsylvania car accident lawyers at Solnick & Associates represent victims of car accidents across Pennsylvania. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to negligence or wrongdoing, you may be entitled to compensation. Pennsylvania’s Solnick & Associates LLC can help. We represent clients in a variety of personal injury cases. Contact us today for a free consultation.