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Connecticut looks at ride share risks

Connecticut and at least 12 other states are beginning to review the potential risks of unregulated ride-share services that are summoned by passengers through a smart phone button. In this state, taxi and livery firms have filed a lawsuit against two of these services. A warning about possible insurance risks from using ride share services has also been issued by the state.

These services are less expensive for riders. A regular person can become a driver, the drivers do not have to be licensed chauffeurs and drivers can use their own vehicles. These drivers can also use their existing personal auto insurance and are not required to obtain commercial liability coverage. However, many of these services obtain additional insurance.

The Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association, representing 1,000 taxicab companies, argue that these services are inadequate and unsafe because they are not governed by regulation. Connecticut taxi and livery firms filed a lawsuit against two of these services, UberX and Lyft, and alleged that they prey on existing taxi and livery services. UberX claims that this lawsuit is baseless, that the plaintiff companies have not evolved or competed and that the suit was filed to protect their monopolies over transportation services.

A spokesman for another ride share provider argues that its service is as least as safe as taxis because of the safeguards it has in place. UberX also said that it has a commercial insurance policy, in place since early 2013 and posted on its website, that has been tested and works.

Critics have also argued that ride share services do not adequately review the background of drivers. However, the industry claims that they screen applicants for their driving history and a criminal background check is conducted among county and state databases and the national sex offender registry.

Victims of car accidents involving these new type of ride services may need advice on obtaining compensation. This industry, and its regulation, is still evolving and liability issues may still be unresolved.

Source: NBC, "States warn of ride share risk for passengers," Ben Popken, June 2, 2014

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