SPRINGFIELD — Rideshare companies would be subject to the same care standards as all other transportation companies under new legislation introduced by State Senator Robert Martwick.

“When you get on a bus or a train, or ride in a plane or a taxi, you expect a certain level of professionalism – a certain standard of care,” said Martwick (D-Chicago.) “If something were to happen to you due to negligence on the company’s part, it’s your right to hold that company liable. As it stands, this protection does not apply to rideshare companies, like Uber or Lyft, and it’s time that changes.”

The common carrier doctrine holds transportation companies to the highest standard of care to their passengers. This includes being able to hold the company liable if their employee causes the passenger harm, through intentional means such as assault, or if a driver is intoxicated and causes an accident.

Currently, transportation network companies, like Uber and Lyft, are exempt from the common carrier doctrine. This leaves victims with few means to hold the companies liable for harm caused by their drivers. Between the two largest companies, Uber and Lyft, between 2017 and 2020 there were almost 14,000 reports of sexual assault, with 824 reportedly being rapes. Martwick’s measure would subject such companies to the common carrier doctrine, holding them accountable for the safety of their passengers.

“It doesn’t matter if the company claims they didn’t know their employee would harm their customer, they can’t use their supposed ignorance as a shield,” Martwick said. “They can, and should, be held liable.”

House Bill 2231 passed the Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday. It now goes to the Senate floor for further deliberation.