A recent USA Today article offers some eye-opening information for both prospective ridesharing drivers and their customers. It turn out that you don’t actually need to own an Uber or Lyft-worthy car in order to drive for one of the big outfits, though that’s still probably the most common path. There are numerous other options, including a partnership between Lyft and manufacturing giant General Motors that leases cars to drivers, but which offers them the lease for free once they hit more than 75 rides in a week. Hertz and Enterprise Rent-a-Car also offer somewhat similar leasing options. Uber has a short term leasing program, and a peer-to-peer service called Hyrecar that allows ridesharing drivers to arrange their own rentals with ordinary vehicle owners.
This may be pretty good news for people who would like to make money by driving for a ridesharing company but who may not own a car, or may not own one that’s up to the standards most Uber and Lyft customers expect. On the other hand, from a point of view of those of us concerned about personal injury cases, there may be some concerns. We’re not sure how significant they are, but they’re at least worth mentioning.
Specifically, with these short term leasing options, it’s possible that some ridesharing drivers might not be fully knowledgeable about all aspects of their vehicles. After all, once you’ve owned a car for a week or two, you tend to know it pretty well, but there’s a period of adjustment when you may not fully understand all the features. Also, as any of us who’ve rented a car knows, the first hour or so of driving can sometimes be a bit stressful as we realize that we don’t really understand the way the car works as well as we might have assumed. If you’ve ever found yourself suddenly realizing you can’t figure out how to turn on the headlights on your new rental, you’ll know what we’re talking about!
That means, we think, there’s obviously some potential for a hazard posed by momentary confusion or distraction that could increase the chances of an injury. At least, as we keep mentioning, Uber and Lyft carry a great deal of liability as well as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This may be one more reason why that’s probably a good thing.