Ridesharing services are often cheaper than cabs but are also less regulated. Many states are tightening the rules on these companies due to the potential liability and hazard.
So, what are the driving requirements for Lyft and Uber in Texas?
Each of the two major rideshare companies has different vehicle requirements for their drivers. Furthermore, Texas is such a large state that requirements may vary from place to place. Typically, all documentation on the vehicle must be up to date. For example, the requirements for Lyft are:
Lyft and Uber Vehicle Requirements
- 2009 or later (as of 2023).
- Four doors.
- 5 to 8 seats, including the driver’s
- Not a taxi, stretch limousine, or rental vehicle.
- Not titled as salvage, non-repairable, rebuilt, etc.
Uber in the Houston area requires the following:
- No more than 15 years old.
- Four doors.
- Good condition with no cosmetic damage.
- No commercial branding.
So, one basic requirement is that the vehicle has four doors and is reasonably new. However, specific requirements can vary by area. If you question whether a vehicle is eligible, you should talk to ride-sharing companies.
Lyft and Uber Driver Qualifications
To drive for a rideshare, a driver must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 25 years old. Companies also do a basic screening of drivers that checks their driving history and criminal background.
These drivers do not, however, must meet the more stringent requirements to be licensed as taxi drivers. They may not be as skilled drivers and may not know the area as well, which can result in a longer trip.
Because of this, you are more likely to get into an accident when taking a rideshare over a licensed cab. This does not mean that rideshares are unsafe, but they can be less safe than cabs. There have also been issues with inappropriate behavior from drivers, including sexual harassment and discrimination.
Issues with Liability Insurance in Rideshare Accidents
In 2020, a survey done by DriversEd.com showed some disturbing statistics. According to passengers, 35% of their drivers did something reckless, 29% sent texts while driving, and 13% said their driver acted “inappropriately.”
In most cases, the person liable for the accident is not the rideshare company but the driver. Because of this, Texas requires that rideshare drivers increase their auto insurance. Typically people must take out $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person.
Rideshare drivers are required to have liability insurance of $1 million. Because this is out of the reach of most drivers, the company typically provides this coverage. Uber also provides comprehensive coverage. This is only in effect when the rideshare driver is carrying passengers.
Insurance Issues for Accidents with Rideshare Drivers Can Be Complicated
This can confuse. If you are in an accident with a rideshare vehicle, then you need to establish whether they were carrying passengers and whether they had the app on or off, as this determines whose insurance you need to deal with. Consulting with an experienced Uber accident lawyer is a good step.
When they are driving a personal trip, their insurance covers it. If they were driving to pick somebody up, there is a higher limit ($50,000); if they were carrying passengers, it goes up a lot.
But if you were riding in the car when the accident happened, then Uber/Lyft’s insurance is the one that comes into play. Because the drivers are legally considered independent contractors, it is hard to sue the rideshare company, even if they appear to have been negligent. You need an expert lawyer in this situation.
If you are physically or sexually assaulted or sexually harassed by a rideshare driver. In that case, however, you have a much higher chance of being able to sue the company for negligent hiring because they did not properly screen the driver.
What Should I Do After Being Injured in a Rideshare Crash?
If a rideshare driver hits you or your car, you should take the same steps as for any other accident. Gather the driver’s name, license plate number, insurance information, witness names, etc. Also, ask the driver whether the app was on or off and whether they were carrying riders.
Be aware that there may be an incentive for them to lie and say the app was on when it was not so that the company’s insurance covers the accident and their premiums don’t go up. Alternatively, they may try to say it was not on if they are worried about being dropped by the rideshare company for having an accident.
However, the companies generally have a record of this, which can be checked. They also use GPS to track the location of drivers when the app is on to monitor performance and also help ensure the safety of drivers and passengers.
Online Reporting of Crashes
You should also go to the company’s website and report the accident. Both Uber and Lyft have mechanisms for doing this. Consider this the same as talking to an insurance company. Get a consultation with a Lyft accident lawyer before talking with Lyft.
Don’t volunteer any information they don’t ask for, don’t describe injuries, and don’t admit the accident may have been your fault. Their insurance company will use any excuse (like all insurance companies) to place the blame on you, wholly or partially. Texas uses proportionate responsibility, so any damages will be reduced by the amount you are found responsible for the accident.
Uber or Lyft’s insurance would cover the incident if you were a passenger in the car. However, drivers may not want to report minor incidents if it affects their record with the company. Thus, you should still independently report the accident to Uber or Lyft.
An accident involving a rideshare car can be particularly complicated, especially as the driver may have the motivation to be less than honest about whether they were “working” or not.
You need a quality personal accident lawyer and should contact one immediately after the incident so they can start working for you. The company will often settle quickly if a lawyer is involved.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm for Help
Contact a top-rated Houston personal injury lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm for more information by calling (281) 587-1111.