California regulators decided recently to adopt new safety regulations for ridesharing companies – namely Uber and Lyft – that will not mandate that drivers have their fingerprints taken as part of the background check. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in October met in San Francisco and agreed unanimously to approve the new regulations.
The controversial decision was criticized by some public safety groups and taxi unions, noting that fingerprinting of drivers enhances public safety because the prints are reviewed by the local police and the FBI. The argument is that fingerprint-based background checks are better to protect passengers from criminals and poor drivers.
But the CPUC dissented from that view, noting their conclusion that fingerprinting does not necessarily ensure greater rider safety.
New Regs Do Enhance Safety Requirements
The new California ridesharing regulations were first announced Oct. 4. While fingerprinting is not required, the new rules will require Uber and Lyft to perform driver screenings every year, and they will have to use accredited, third-party agencies to perform the background checks.
California lawmakers in 2016 also outlawed ridesharing companies from hiring registered sex offenders, as well as drivers who were convicted of violent felonies.
California regulators determined that background checks done by third parties without fingerprinting satisfy the public safety objectives of the commission and of the state legislature.
The new rules are seen as a win for Uber and Lyft; the companies have long argued against fingerprinting of drivers. They argue that such a requirement is discriminatory against minorities. Others say that the ridesharing services oppose fingerprinting because of the added cost for each driver.
Ensuring Safety When You Rideshare
Public safety has long been a major concern with ridesharing in California. There have been several highly publicized cases where violent altercations took place between ridesharing passengers and drivers, with one leading to multiple fatalities in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Others have been in accidents while riding as a passenger in Uber and Lyft vehicles. One man, Jason Herrerra, reported recently that he was in an accident in an UberX car that left him saddled with serious injuries and unpaid medical bills.
One of the problems with ridesharing is that drivers typically use their existing auto insurance policy for coverage in case of an accident. They generally are not required to obtain commercial liability insurance. So if a Lyft or Uber driver gets in an accident that hurts a passenger, the driver’s insurance company can deny the claim.
If you are in an accident when ridesharing, you should hire a personal injury attorney to deal with the legal complexities involved in negotiating with the insurance company for such accidents.
If you are going to use a ridesharing company, Angie’s List offers these safety tips:
- Confirm the car and driver. When you order a ride, you are informed on the app who the driver is and the car he is driving. If the person who picks you up is someone different, you should decline the ride.
- Look at driver rating. All Uber and Lyft drivers have to pass a background check, but fingerprints are not required in California. Experts also recommend not riding in front; many confrontations that have happened were with front seat passengers.
- Don’t drink. Many violent-ride cases involved drunk passengers.
- Do not use cash. Uber and Lyft charges rides to your credit card, so no cash is needed. If you ever are asked to pay cash, it is a red flag.
Hurt in a Rideshare Accident? Call Neale & Fhima Personal Injury Lawyers in Southern California
Even if you do your due diligence when using a rideshare service, sometimes accidents still happen. Neale & Fhima is a vehicle accident law firm serving Southern California, with offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco. Our attorneys can help you to obtain financial compensation in a rideshare accident. If you need legal advice about a rideshare accident or any type of car accident, please call 949-661-1007. You also can complete the contact form below.