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Transportation Network Company Liability in Middlesex County, MA

Massachusetts legislators recently passed some regulation involving transportation network companies, which is the term for describing ridesharing organizations such as Lyft or Uber. A "transportation network company" is an organization or entity which employs a digital networking system capable of linking riders with drivers to coordinate transportation services. These companies are required to have a permit which lasts for a period of two years. Governor Charlie Baker signed the legislation recently and stated "This legislation does a pretty good job of placing a regulatory framework to deal with some of the issues associated with public safety, vehicle identification and insurance". This is the first statewide regulation on this segment of services in MA, and seems to ensure that concerns of accident liability are addressed.

Background Screening

A two-part background checking system has been implemented; the companies themselves are responsible to conduct the initial checks, and the state follows suit thereafter. This screening process is to be conducted in set six-month intervals. Drivers must be 21 years of age, must not exceed four traffic infractions in the prior three-year time period, and may not appear in the National Sex Offender Database. The process does not require driver fingerprinting or the need to obtain license plates that are commercial, which is the case currently for those driving taxi cabs. In addition, the vehicles will be subject to regular safety inspections.

Insurance Requirements

There is a unique application for auto accident insurance, in how two separate sets of coverage exist based on the driver’s status. The first is when a transportation network vehicle operator is actively on the digital network, yet not actually in route to pick up a passenger, or transporting a passenger; the second is when they are actively in route or transporting a passenger. The comparison is as follows:

  • Liability coverage of $50,000 per occurrence for bodily injury, $100,000 of total bodily injury, $30,000 of property damage coverage, uninsured motorist insurance and personal injury coverage.
  • Liability coverage of $1,000,000 per occurrence coverage for death, bodily injury, property damage, uninsured motorist and personal injury coverage.

The holder of a policy may be either the network driver, or the transportation network organization.

Fare Estimates

The companies are required to provide their customers with "conspicuous and clear" estimates of the transportation fare at all times. This applies during periods of heavy volume, increased demand, and "surge" pricing applicability. Further, the drivers are prohibited from soliciting passengers along the streets, but instead are only to pick up passengers solely in response to requests through the digital system application. The vehicles themselves must have decals to signify that they are a ridesharing vehicle.

Airport Service and Passenger Accessibility

There is no restriction on these drivers providing services to Logan Airport and the Boston Convention Center. All drivers must be capable of providing for those passengers requiring special needs or assistance without an extra fee.

State Surcharge Revenue

A 20 cent surcharge is added to each ride provided, which will be allocated to local and state government. The fee is to be directed toward state and local transportation-related costs including furthering job skill and related training for services of taxi and livery. This fee is apparently going to be eliminated after a period of ten years.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle, you may be entitled to financial compensation for damages. At the DiBella Law Offices, P.C., they have been advocating for Massachusetts injury victims is areas such as Concord, Lexington, Lincoln and many more, for years. They were recently named one of the "Top Litigators" by the American Society of Legal Advocates. Contact the office today at (781) 262-3338 for a consultation with a Burlington car accident attorney.