Ride-sharing services are exploding in popularity throughout Texas. Earlier this year, the Texas legislature passed and Governor Greg About signed a law that creates a new set of statewide regulations for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, which the state now calls, “Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs. The purpose of the new law was to stop the fighting between local municipal governments and the ride-sharing companies and to provide a consistent statewide set of rules regarding their operations.
What the New Law Does
This law changes a lot for the ride-sharing business in Texas, and those who use such companies to get from one destination to another should be aware of the changes that could affect their rights. For example, the new law creates new standards statewide, at the same time it removes the authority of municipalities to institute their own rules. Only a few entities have the ability to impose their own rules, such as airports, cruise ship terminals and large events. Other than that, the same rules apply statewide.
One major change is that operating a TNC in Texas now requires a state permit. That means a driver for Uber or Lyft or another such service must be at least 18 and maintain a valid driver’s license in either Texas or another state or Washington, DC. They must also maintain proof of registration and auto insurance at all times in every vehicle used and they must pass a background check. A TNC driver cannot have been convicted of a crime within the previous three years prior to the background check. They also cannot have more than three moving violations in that time and that cannot have been convicted of one or more serious traffic offenses like reckless driving, driving without a license, attempting to elude police or several others. They can be disqualified if they have been convicted of a felony, including theft, fraud or any crime involving property damage, but especially any violent crime or terrorism. They are also not qualified if they are on any sex offender registry, or if they have been convicted of DUI within seven years of the background check.
All TNCs must pay certain annual fees to the state, although the fee can’t be based on the number of drivers they employ. They are also required to carry mandatory insurance coverage for times when drivers are between rides, including amounts that are higher than those for standard passenger vehicle drivers. However, they are also required to carry coverage of $1 million for death, bodily injury, and property damage for each incident when they are carrying passengers.
The new Texas law clears up much of the confusion regarding ridesharing, so in an accident involving a TNC, you should do many of the same things you should do after an accident in your personal vehicle. However, keep a few things in mind. Since some TNCs think of their drivers as independent contractors, they are often less likely to pay a claim outright. At the same time, there is the competitive nature of the car insurance industry. They make money by denying and underpaying on claims, so they are more likely than not to deny you. Now that the state of Texas has decided to regulate the industry, there is more certainty in the industry, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cover your tracks anyway.
Hire an Attorney to Help You Get What You Deserve
There are many things to think about if you are in a ride-sharing accident, and you can’t be expected to think of everything. Because ride sharing is a relatively new phenomenon, there are no comprehensive studies regarding the rate of accidents among TNC drivers. However, since the companies they work for require drivers to operate a smartphone app while on the job, distracted driving is a real possibility. Another thing to consider is that almost anyone who hasn’t committed a serious crime can drive for one of these services, which means it is not possible to know the level of skill of the driver. If the ride-sharing company has failed to properly train or supervise the driver, they could be found liable, but only if such a thing can be proven.
In the state of Texas, it is necessary to file a lawsuit within the Statute of Limitations for your auto accident, which in most cases is two years. However, there are exceptions in the law that can reduce that time. And if you miss that deadline, you can never file suit against anyone ever. That is why you need an accident attorney. The ride-sharing companies have a lot of money in their big pockets, as do their insurance companies, and they will do everything they can to pay you as little as possible. We hope you’re never in an accident in a TNC vehicle or anything else. However, if you are, follow these steps to make things better for you and your loved ones.