Uber and Lyft Making Moves in Wisconsin
Despite only being able to officially operate in Milwaukee, the popular car service provided by Uber and Lyft is available in Madison and Green Bay without official regulation. Both companies and state legislators are attempting to fix that problem by pushing through legislation that would allow the companies (and related ones) to operate throughout the state legally.
A.B. 143 and S.B. 106 are the two bills being supported by major transportation networking providers, Uber and Lyft, along with regional insurance providers. Under the proposed regulations, “transportation networking companies” (as Uber, Lyft, etc. are referenced) will be allowed to operate throughout the state of Wisconsin provided they meet certain requirements.
Requirements Set Forth by the Bills
In order to ally recent safety trends regarding drivers attacking passengers (the case of a driver attacking a passenger with a hammer being the most infamous and horrific example), all drivers must undergo a background check and the company shall not hire certain individuals based on their age or criminal backgrounds.
Furthermore, the vehicles used must pass the same safety, inspection, and emission standards as any other personal vehicle in the state. The companies must also put zero-tolerance drug and alcohol and non-discrimination policies in place. In addition, the drivers may not discriminate against passengers, on the basis of age, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, color, destination or disability. This is an important addition after there have been cases of drivers refusing blind passengers or placing passengers' service dogs into the trunk of the car.
Further Insurance Requirements
The most important part of the proposed law, however, is the insurance requirements put forth in the bills. Under the current bills, both a driver and the transportation networking company must meet specific, required, minimum insurance standards. The purpose is to clear up any confusion as to when a driver or company must have insurance coverage in the event of an accident involving a driver who is “on duty.”Also, drivers must log into the app in order to receive passengers in the same way passengers have to log into the app in order to find/hire a driver.
Whether a driver is operating in his capacity as a transportation networking company driver and in what stage will dictate what insurance coverage applies. The following is an easy breakdown of the insurance coverage:
- When a driver is logged onto the app, the primary insurance covers at least $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 for death and injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage;
- When a driver is engaged (meaning accepted a fare or with a passenger), the primary insurance covers $1 million for death, bodily injury, and property damage; and
- In all cases, there shall also be insurance coverage that meets the state's minimum requirements for uninsured and underinsured drivers.
This insurance coverage can be provided by a policy maintained by a driver, the transportation networking company, or a combination of the two. The current bill allows for an insurance company to exclude transportation networking services from a personal auto insurance policy, meaning either the company has to provide or a driver has to buy special insurance.
From a consumer safety standpoint, you want as much coverage to apply as possible so that if you are a passenger or pedestrian, you know you can recover your damages from a driver or the company. Ideally, the company's commercial insurance policy should cover any injuries that occur when a driver is operating in the context of his or her employment.
By including insurance and driver safety requirements, legislators hope to keep Wisconsin consumers safe when they use services such as Uber or Lyft. Currently, if you are injured in an Uber accident or by an Uber driver, there is a very strong chance you will not be able to recover any compensation from the driver, the company, or their insurance policy. The proposed law, while not perfect, is an important step forward.
Reach Out to a Wisconsin Car Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in a car accident, please contact one of our experienced Green Bay car accident attorneys or Appleton car accident attorneys for help initiating a claim or personal injury lawsuit. With offices located in Appleton, Green Bay, New London, and Oshkosh, we will work to help you recover for your losses.