Ridesharing: Too good to be true?

The new ridesharing economy is revolutionizing the way we get around. In New York and other major cities around the U.S. and the world, activating a smartphone or online app will summon a driver within minutes. Payment for the entire trip, including tip, is charged to a previously recorded credit card. Gone is the hassle of standing out on a street corner to hail a cab. And the savings are considerable-riding with UberX or Lyft can be up to 20 percent cheaper than using a taxi in New York. If rider demand remains high and ridesharing rates remain low, choosing Lyft or UberX as your mode of transportation may actually be more economical than owning a car. But Ridesharing’s benefits are not without risk, and you should know what you’re getting into when you call for a car.

Rider Beware

Companies like Uber and Lyft are not transportation businesses. They are tech companies that rely on communications networks to connect drivers with passengers. Drivers for UberX and Lyft operate their own vehicles and carry their own insurance. UberBlack, a more traditional, upscale limousine service utilizes vehicles like Lincoln Town Cars and Cadillac Escalades . Typically, most automobile insurance policies contain exclusions for liability arising out of the use of the car as a public or livery conveyance. Although Uber and Lyft claim to carry $1 million in ‘excess insurance’ per incident, the driver’s own insurance is the first line of coverage. Last New Year’s Eve, a 6 year-old San Francisco girl was struck and killed by an Uber driver. At first, the company declined to apply the excess coverage because the driver was not engaged in a pick-up or drop-off when the fatality occurred. Uber now states that the $1 million coverage is allowed anytime that the driver’s Uber app is turned on, whether or not he is taking part in a pick-up or drop-off. The issue of proper insurance coverage in relation to ridesharing is still unsettled and in need of further analysis and regulation.

The Liability Puzzle

UberX and Lyft consider their drivers to be independent contractors rather than employees. This means that, in the event of a lawsuit, ridesharing companies might disavow responsibility for any harm caused by a driver’s actions. In addition to questions of liability arising out of serious or fatal accidents, there have been other troubling incidents involving drivers for ridesharing companies. Some drivers have been accused of fondling and stalking passengers and otherwise behaving bizarrely or inappropriately. UberX maintains a rating system for both drivers and passengers in an effort to weed out undesirable, dangerous, or unreliable individuals. But whether these companies can be sued directly for failure to adequately screen their drivers is still uncertain. The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) requires commercial drivers to undergo drug testing and background checks , take driving courses and have their vehicles inspected regularly. Neither UberX nor Lyft utilize professional drivers. UberBlack requires its drivers to be licensed by the TLC. UberX drivers must be twenty-three years of age or older, have a valid driver’s license and insurance coverage, and maintain their full/midsize cars in excellent condition. Lyft, as a result of a recent court ruling, has agreed to have its drivers licensed by the TLC. Neither Lyft nor UberX are required to provide handicap accessible vehicles. Unlike taxis in some U.S. cities, UberX and Lyft cars are not equipped with tamper-proof video cameras.

Early Days

The ridesharing economy is a recent innovation. So far, consumers seem to like the convenience and lower cost of using UberX and Lyft. Many questions remain as to the status of ridesharing drivers in relation to their companies and how liability for accidents and other damages will be shared between the drivers and the companies. A number of commentators and observers are calling for tighter regulation and increased monitoring of ridesharing operations. The challenge is to maintain the informal, lower-cost character of ridesharing while ensuring that its liability coverage and the quality of its drivers approach professional standards.

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What to do in the event of a New York car accident

The roadways in and around New York City can be extremely dangerous. This is even more so when a negligent driver takes to the road, not considering the well being of passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians.

If you are involved in a car accident, regardless of the location or circumstances, there is nothing more important than getting immediate medical attention. Your health is priority number one, as everything else can be dealt with at a later date.

Once your are stabilized and have a treatment strategy for getting your mental and physical health back on track, it is time to consider the finer details of your accident, including who was at fault, the cause of the incident, and how police are approaching the situation.

As you continue with treatment, you may find that you are faced with a financial hardship, such as not being able to pay your medical bills or the inability to earn a living due to your injuries.

Car accidents can lead to a variety of injuries, from broken bones to concussions among many others.

It is important to know how to deal with a car accident, just in case you ever find yourself in this situation. There is a lot to consider when it comes to New York personal injury law, which is why you may want to hire an attorney as soon as you are comfortable doing so. For those who want to learn more about this subject, read our car accident and other personal injury pages.

Source: The Orlow Firm, “NYC Car Accident Attorney” Aug. 28, 2014

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New York City official looking to end police misconduct

There is no denying the fact that police misconduct is a problem in many cities throughout the United States, with New York City having its fair share of issues over the years.

While many measures have been implemented to help cut back on the number of police misconduct incidents throughout the city, one New York City official is hoping to make a major change for the better.

Public Advocate Letitia James feels that police officers should wear body cameras, as this would help cut back on the potential of misconduct.

She wants a pilot program implemented in which patrol officers in some of the city’s precincts would wear body cameras, with hopes that this would eventually reach all departments.

She said, “We are living in an increasingly technological world, and we should take measures to incorporate video cameras into policing to improve public safety.”

According to a police spokesperson, the department is looking into the feasibility associated with the use of camera technology.

James feels that the use of body cameras would actually save the police money, cutting down on the $152 million spent last year on police misconduct claims.

There is no place in today’s world for police misconduct. This holds true regardless of the location or what the accused person has done. Some cities, such as the Big Apple, have a bigger problem with this than others. In the event that police treat somebody in an inappropriate manner, the victim has the right to consider his or her legal options, which could mean filing a claim against the officer and associated police department.

Source: Fox Business, “NYC official calls for police body cameras as a check on misconduct by officers” Aug. 12, 2014

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New York nursing home facing more trouble

Nobody wants to hear about a story of nursing home abuse or negligence, as this means that a patient was not treated with the respect that he or she deserves. However, this crime continues to be a problem throughout the country, including in the state of New York.

A Long Island nursing home has found itself under investigation once again, this time in relation to the death of a 71-year-old resident of the facility.

In October of 2012, a 72-year-old woman died at the nursing home. In June of this year, multiple workers at Medford Multicare Center were charged with her death. This time around, another woman has lost her life at the facility and people are beginning to wonder what is going on.

After the woman passed away on July 20, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Office sent investigators to the facility. From there, state Health Department officials showed up to take a closer look.

In the most recent death, the facility claims that a machine stopped working and staff was able to respond within 80 seconds. Unfortunately, the patient did not survive, dying two minutes later. The woman’s family said that the death certificate does not match up with the story.

There is no place for negligence in a nursing home facility, as residents and their families expect nothing but the best care at all times. When a staff member fails to provide such care, the end result is often serious injury or death. In the event that a loved one is injured or killed due to nursing home negligence, the family has the right to dig up additional information to determine which steps to take next.

Source: CBS New York, “Long Island Nursing Home Under Fire Following Another Resident Death” Aug. 01, 2014

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New York two vehicle accident kills 1, injures 2

Some car accidents in New York involve a single vehicle. Others involve two or more vehicles, in which case the chance of multiple injuries or death is greater. The New York State Police are in the process of investigating a car accident that killed one person and injured two others on Interstate 95 in Rye.

The accident occurred at approximately 10 a.m. in the southbound lanes. It was at that time that a vehicle and a military Humvee collided with one another. As a result, one of the vehicles rolled over and two people were ejected. The Humvee, part of the Connecticut Army National Guard, was on its way to Fort Dix in New Jersey.

According to reports, the passenger in the vehicle that rolled over was killed. The driver of that same vehicle was taken to the hospital for the treatment of serious injuries. The driver of the other vehicle was also being treated for an unspecified injury.

Following the accident, traffic backed up, as only one southbound lane on the interstate was open as authorities investigated.

Anybody who has driven on the interstate is well aware of how fast vehicles can travel. While nobody knows if speed was a factor in this accident, when two vehicles collide on the interstate, there is always the chance of serious damage, injuries and death. In the event that you are injured in such an accident, and the other party is negligent, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the at-fault party. This holds true even if police do not pursue charges.

Source: WABC-TV, “Deadly accident involving military vehicle in Rye, New York” Aug. 07, 2014

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