Pitfalls of Rideshare Service Apps

When it comes to rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft the benefits to using them as a passenger may seem pretty obvious: a ride home when you’re too tired to drive; a lift to get you closer to your destination when a parking lot is full; a shuttle between a train station or airport and a hotel when you’re traveling… Unfortunately, these idealized use cases tend to blind many riders to the pitfalls and risks behind using a rideshare service.

In most cases, the rider doesn’t experience a problem, so we continue to believe these Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) are safe, or a “safer” alternative to driving yourself. There are other factors that contribute to our perception of these services as safe, and one of the biggest is the suppression of information from the rideshare companies themselves. 

Let’s examine some of the most common pitfalls of rideshare service apps and what might make you think twice about deeming them as safe.

  1. You’re putting your safety into the hands of an average driver. This driver is an independent contractor who has most likely not completed any additional driver training to ensure rules of the road are followed and that you remain as safe as possible.  The driver could be aggressive, show signs of road rage, or simply be too distracted by the app on their phone telling them about their next pickup opportunity.  Typically, someone who is a professional driver has undergone additional training that highlights the differences between just getting in your car to run to the store and driving in a commercial setting. 
  2. The driver isn’t usually being paid fairly.  When all of the time and costs to operate are taken into account, many drivers say they earn less than minimum wage.  So if you feel like they’re in a rush to drop you off to go get the next rider, it’s probably true.  The drivers need to maximize their earnings which leads many to speed.  And we say this one all the time: speed kills.  The State tried to protect drivers by making them employees, but Proposition 22 (which was sponsored by Uber) reversed that.
  3. You have no control in-the-moment.  We have a team member with a service animal.  Although the rideshare services all have a policy that service animals are allowed provided that they, too, abide by the rules (which a real service animal will without any issues), the driver can still prevent you from entering their car for any reason by simply locking their doors and driving off.  She waited at a train station in Los Angeles where not one, not two, but three drivers refused her with her service animal.    Or they may pick you up and not take you to your destination.  They are behind the wheel and you lose your control. You can complain to the TNC, but that doesn’t mean anything will come of it, despite the fact that they have records of which drivers responded to your request in the rideshare app.  Yet another pitfall of rideshare apps.
  4. More traffic and impact on the environment.  Studies have been conducted and there is a statistically significant increase in traffic congestion brought on from these rideshare service apps – as much as 13.4% in San Francisco County.  This is also what leads many to believe rideshare is the root to the current rise in traffic fatalities.

These are just some of the many pitfalls of rideshare apps.  Unfortunately, there isn’t enough data made public due to gag orders placed on lawsuits and settlements from these service providers to accurately represent the odds of something going wrong the next time you use an app to hail a ride from a TNC.  If you’ve been hurt while using a rideshare, or involved in a collision with a rideshare service driver, you may already be aware of these pitfalls and the uncertainty in identifying the party(ies) responsible. 

As rideshare accident attorneys in California, we can help.  Consultations are free. 

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New Fees for Renting a Car in California

Here in our blog, we try to provide as much information as we can on updates to laws and ordinances in California to keep you safe.  As personal injury attorneys, that information generally relates to pedestrian and bicyclist safety, but we’ve talked about schoolyard bullying and safety for your kids as well as e-scooter rental policies and defective products.  Today we want to talk to you about rental cars and some new legislation already in effect and what it might mean for you if you get into an accident with a rental car.

Assembly Bill 901

Assembly Bill 901 makes modifications to rental passenger vehicle transactions, namely fees. 

Rental car companies can now add a fee to your rental if you let an unauthorized driver drive your car.  This means renters must take extra caution and add all drivers who might drive the car to the rental agreement at the time of renting.  There are exceptions to the penalty for family members like a spouse, parent, or sibling, but be cautious about letting someone not on the rental agreement drive your rental car.  Not being on the rental agreement can also mean this other driver is not covered by insurance.

Rental car companies can also raise the cap on damage waivers to $25 per day or partial day for small vehicles and beginning in January 2023, the cap can be adjusted “according to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.”  And while many may believe the optional insurance of a rental vehicle to be optional, and want to take the newly-more-expensive damage waiver, there are new disclosures that must be outlined to the renter to make sure they are aware they are liable for damages that can reach the full value of the vehicle (just in damage to that vehicle, not including damages to other people and/or vehicles).  Check with your car insurance company to find out if they cover rental cars and how much of the damages they cover if so, before you plan to take the damage waiver. 

Assembly Bill 901 was produced by the American Car Rental Association, Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz, alongside the California Travel Association and the state’s Teamsters union.  It was introduced in 2021 while rental car companies were struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic and went into effect on January 1, 2022.  Read Assembly Bill 901 here.

What This Means if You Get into an Accident with a Rental Car

Collisions happen.  It’s an unfortunate truth.  And collisions can happen with rental cars.  If you are a driver, pedestrian, or cyclist and you get into an accident with someone driving a rental car, first check for injuries and call 911 if needed, then get as much information from the driver as you can at the time of the collision.  You’ll want to get both their renal agreement insurance and their personal driving insurance information because you may have to navigate through claims with one or both.  There is a chance that they are not insured through their rental agreement, are not an authorized driver, or are underinsured.  Take a picture with your phone of their rental documents for a fast way to save the information.  Make sure you get their name and phone number, too. 

If you have damages such as vehicle or bicycle damage, or have injuries needing medical care resulting in loss of income (those are damages, too), contact the lawyers at Rahman Law.  We are here to help you.  Navigating through insurance companies’ paperwork is a tough job (especially if there are 2 companies involved) and you don’t have to do it alone. 

Request a free consultation here, or save our number into your phone: 415-956-9245.