As 2017 rolled along, we were bombarded by reminders that the economy and transportation are continuously changing. We heard about “the Gig Economy.” We heard about new types of “e-Commerce.” And there were many, many new developments in the world of “the Ride Share Economy.” Technology will always continue to shape how humans get to where they want to go: horses were replaced by cars. Now the definition of “car” is going to change forever.
In Saudi Arabia, they claim to be inching closer to flying cars. Uber has entered into an agreement with NASA regarding the use of aerospace for their version of a flying car. There is even a video. And neither is projecting their arrival 20 years away. In Uber’s case, they claim that they’ll be whizzing passengers over the Los Angeles gridlock by 2020 (reminder: we’re about to flip the calendar over to 2018!!!) As the article notes, these may all be optimistic projections. One thing that is clear: no matter how long it might take for ride shares to fly, ride sharing is everywhere.
What Does Ride Share have to do with “TNC”?
Most people have heard of the term “ride share” and know that it refers to using mobile phone apps to hail point-to-point rides. The companies like Uber, LYFT, Sidecar, and Wingz distinguish themselves from traditional Taxi or Livery companies by claiming that the drivers are not employees. They do not have medallions. They don’t own the cars. And ultimately, they claim that they’re technology companies that connect drivers with those looking for a ride. These companies call themselves “Transportation Network Companies,” or “TNC” for short.
Transportation Networks are the network provided by the Uber App or the Lyft App. These companies may not be traditional ‘transportation companies,’ but they are subject to laws regulating their business. In Illinois, there is the Transportation Network Providers Act, which mandates insurance coverage for these TNC companies for injuries that occur. You might not realize it, but your Automobile Liability Insurance for your car likely has an Exclusion in the Insurance Contract–which eliminates any liability for injuries resulting from driving if you are engaged in any ‘for hire’ business.
Insurance for TNC’s
This means that a driver is transporting an Uber rider and hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk, his Insurance through State Farm, GEICO, Allstate or whichever company, will claim they do not have to pay for the injury even if he is at fault. And if the Insurance contract is written that way, they would be correct. Or what happens to a passenger in a Lyft vehicle when the driver blows a red light and gets t-boned by other traffic. The Lyft driver caused the injuries, but regular insurance would not be responsible.
Are those injured people out of luck?
Thankfully, the Illinois Law (and laws in nearly every other State) say “no.”
According to the law, the TNC company is legally required to provide special insurance for the TNC driver and vehicle that applies while they are using the App. This means that there must be coverage from the moment the driver accepts a ride to the moment when the passenger gets in. And that there must also be coverage while the passenger is being transported.
The reality is that you must always be on the lookout for unsafe situations. Be wary of the safety of the vehicle when they pull up as well as the driver. Then, be observant of the driver’s behavior. You are ultimately in control of a TNC Ride Share. And you can end it if you deem it unsafe. But if something ever happens while you are being transported, or if you are injured as the result of the negligence of a Ride Share driver, call the lawyers at Coogan Gallagher right away. We are here to answer all of your questions about investigating the claim and will work to get you justice.