Things to Consider Before Driving for Uber or Lyft, from LegalRideshare

The troubled “COVID economy” we’re experiencing is forcing many Americans to seek out new means of getting income. Many will consider signing on with rideshare services Uber and Lyft. But there are things people need to consider before making that move, according to the gig economy legal experts at LegalRideshare.

According to LegalRideshare, the responsibilities of being an Uber or Lyft driver go beyond taking passengers from point A to point B safely. Being a driver for one of these companies also means running your own company as an independent contractor.

Many rideshare drivers are unaware of the loopholes that can cause issues down the road. Attorneys Matthew Belcher and Bryant Greening, co-founders of the law firm LegalRideshare and the nation’s top experts on rideshare law, are offering important advice for new or potential rideshare drivers.

Get a dash cam. Dash cams help to capture any incidents that may occur, providing unbiased information on the parties involved, and can be used as an important resource for determining who is at fault for an accident.

Without video footage, claims often descend into “he said, she said” arguments. It can be difficult for law enforcement to determine who was at-fault, resulting in increased insurance premiums.

Insurance is everything. Rideshare insurance varies depending on whether there’s a passenger in the car or if the driver is waiting for or going to a call. Uber and Lyft provide insurance coverage when passengers are in the car, which is known as Period 3 coverage.

When the driver is en route to a call, drivers are covered by Period 2 insurance. But both companies provide only limited coverage, called Period 1, when drivers are logged into their apps and waiting for a fare. It’s important drivers have additional insurance to cover the gaps between periods.

Advanced safety systems are a must-have.  In a recent Forbes article, attorney Bryant Greening stated, “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems have been shown to reduce damages to property and persons, which keeps drivers on the road and able to earn.

Spending a little more upfront on safety enhancements is like buying an insurance policy for when the inevitable happens. Minimizing your potential liability and damages is the name of the game.”

Advanced safety systems can include anything from, but not limited to, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, forward and rear collision detection, among several others.

Be prepared if (when) you’re involved in an accident. The unfortunate reality is the longer drivers are on the road, the higher their chances are to be involved in an accident. While you may not be able to avoid the accident, there are steps you can take to make sure you know what to say and do after it occurs.

These steps include filing a police report, getting the contact information from your passengers and avoiding an admission to fault. LegalRideshare covers all these tips in a handy Driver Checklist that should sit in your glovebox. 

Seek professional help for taxes and expenses. Being a rideshare driver means running your own business, so be informed when it comes to paying taxes.

Uber and Lyft drivers, among other freelancers and independent contractors, are able to deduct 20% of their gross income from their taxable income before paying the new lower tax rates. In addition, a number of expenses can be deducted, including miles, travel, gas, the purchase of the car, et cetera.

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