SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — A new bill opposed by ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft is moving closer to becoming law, a move that the companies say could force them to end services in Illinois.
The bill follows a case in which a Chicago woman sued Lyft after claiming she was sexually assaulted by the driver. Lyft argued since their drivers were defined by Illinois law not to be common carriers, they were not liable for any damages.
A bill in the state capitol would remove the exemption of drivers of rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, and lump them in with carriers such as bus drivers, train conductors, airline pilots, and taxi drivers, who have “vicarious liability”: if a bus rider for an unsafe ride sues the driver, the bus company can also be found liable for employing an unsafe driver under Illinois law.
Lyft officials are strongly opposed to the bill. They argue with the current laws in place, only 0.0002% of their rides have a registered safety incident. Representatives of the company also say the new rule would increase the cost for riders.
Uber is also against the bill. They argue if the bill becomes law, it may cause them to end services in some parts of the state and impact service for users in the state.
“Disguised as a safety bill, this legislation could make rideshare too expensive for many communities. It could also lead to reduced rideshare availability, removing transportation options and earnings opportunities for tens of thousands in Illinois,” Uber said in a statement, according to The Center Square.
“One of the reasons these entities have been so successful has been the costs involved are not as great as the other entities,” State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Harrisburg) said. “By increasing regulations or burdens on business, we may drive them out.”
The Senate passed an amendment to the House’s bill. It now returns to the House. If approved, the bill heads to Gov. JB Pritzker to be signed into law.