[THE KOREA TIMES_이동진 변호사] Handy tips for using ride-sharing services

If a car accident occurs while using the service, the legal issues will be much more complicated. Korea Times file

0e32df2d535842fbbee0a23a76756a30.jpgBy Lee Dong-jin

The business-to-consumer ride-sharing market in Korea has rapidly increased and 5 million people here have used such a service.

The whole process can be controlled by a smartphone application and you do not need to see or speak to anyone from the rental company.

The car garage will be close to you, open 24 hours a day, and you can freely decide how many hours you will need the car (with older, traditional car rental services, you can only rent by the day). Moreover, because you are renting a car for only a few hours, rather than buying your own vehicle, you don’t need to worry about registration or other administrative hassles.

However, according to a survey, 26 percent of ride-sharing consumers have had a car accident while renting and only 25.9 percent of them were able to contact the company’s service center on their first attempt.

In addition, if a car accident happens, the resulting legal relationship will be much more complicated because you have to take into account the third-party driver (if there is a second vehicle), the insurance company (or companies), the car-sharing service provider, any injured party and sometimes even the driver who rented the car just before you. Hence, I’d like to suggest some tips for when you use a car-sharing service.

First, check that everything is fine with the rental car before driving off and take photos or videos of the car to prove it, especially if there is any damage or wear and tear. Because a rental car is not your own, you don’t know what happened to it before you rented it. Having such evidence will exempt you from liability that the previous driver or the rental company should rightfully bear.

Second, find out the phone number of the service center and save it in your cellphone just in case. If an accident occurs, the situation will become urgent and there is no time to go looking through contracts or emails or app messages to find the right number. And remember that the rental car is not yours but belongs to the company. This is why you have to keep in contact with the company and everything should be handled in agreement with it.

Third, read carefully the terms of use before driving. The company will provide you with insurance packages (including compulsory and commercial) that will limit your liability for damage and compensation for an accident. However, there are some exceptional provisions in the terms of use that might leave you uncovered and fully liable for an accident. For instance, you can add one passenger as an additional driver when filing a rental application, but the insurance will not cover you if you are not inside the car at the time the additional driver causes an accident.

However easy and convenient such a rental service may be, please keep in mind that there is no way to make the legal relationships similarly easy and convenient in the case of an accident.

Lee Dong-jin is an associate at HMP Law and a member of the Tech & Comms team.

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