Rideshare services like Lyft have become incredibly popular, and many people are becoming part-time or full-time drivers for an extra source of income. More cars and rides mean more accidents, and determining liability in accidents involving rideshare vehicles from Lyft or other services like Uber can be complicated. There are a few steps you should take immediately if you are involved in an accident with a Lyft driver as a passenger that can help protect your rights.
Understanding Lyft’s Responsibility
When you step into a Lyft vehicle, you trust the service to get you to your destination safely. Accidents can happen, however, and when they do, passengers often wonder about Lyft’s responsibility. Is the rideshare giant liable for any injuries sustained during the ride?
Lyft, as a transportation network company, provides its passengers with commercial liability insurance. This means that if you are injured while in a Lyft vehicle, you are generally covered by the company’s insurance policy. The extent of this coverage can vary based on the specifics of the accident. If the Lyft driver is at fault, the company’s $1 million commercial policy might come into play.
What to Do Right After a Lyft Accident
Experiencing an accident, whether in a Lyft vehicle or not, can be disorienting and stressful. Taking the right steps immediately after the incident can significantly impact any potential claims. First and foremost, ensure that everyone involved is safe and out of harm’s way. If there are any injuries, even minor ones, call 911 immediately.
The next step is to document the scene. Use your smartphone to take pictures of the vehicles involved, any damage, license plates, and the surrounding area. This visual evidence can be invaluable later on. Make sure you exchange contact and insurance information with all parties involved, including the Lyft driver. You must also report the accident to Lyft through their app to make sure that they are aware of the incident.
The last step is to consider seeking medical attention even if you feel fine. Some injuries, like head injuries, may not show any symptoms immediately. By being proactive, you can save yourself from potential complications further down the legal processes and protect yourself from medical problems that may not be apparent immediately after the accident.
Challenges When Suing Rideshare Companies
Suing a rideshare company like Lyft can be very different from suing a private driver, primarily due to the legalities surrounding their operations. One of the primary challenges is the classification of Lyft drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. This distinction often shields Lyft from direct liability, pushing the responsibility onto the driver instead.
When you sign up for Lyft’s services, you agree to certain terms of service. Hidden within these terms might be clauses that limit your rights to sue the company directly, often pushing disputes into binding arbitration instead of a public trial. This can limit the potential compensation and recourse available to passengers.
Their layered insurance policies, which differentiate between when a driver is actively ferrying a passenger versus when they are waiting for a ride request, can also complicate claims. It is essential to consult with legal professionals who are aware of these nuances when considering action against rideshare entities like Lyft or Uber.
When Another Driver Is at Fault
Not all accidents involving Lyft vehicles are necessarily the fault of the Lyft driver. When another driver causes the accident, the liability shifts, and the third party’s insurance becomes the primary source for claims. Passengers might find themselves negotiating with the insurers of an unfamiliar party, who is trying to shift blame to the Lyft driver.
This is why it is important to gather all pertinent information at the scene, including the third-party driver’s contact, license, and insurance details. If the third-party driver is underinsured or uninsured, Lyft’s own policy may step in to cover the damages, thanks to its underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.
This process can become more convoluted and take longer, as multiple insurance companies get involved and each tries to minimize their own payouts. Engaging with a lawyer who understands the differences between a Lyft or rideshare claim and a typical road accident claim can help speed up this process and make it less stressful for injured parties.
If you have been involved in an accident with a rideshare driver, either as a passenger or as another road user, you should visit one of our law offices at:
- Tampa – 2504 W Crest Ave, Tampa, FL 33614
- Petersburg – 520 2nd Ave South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
- New Port Richey – 5703 Main Street, New Port Richey, FL 34652
- Brooksville – 1790 E Jefferson St., Brooksville, FL 34601
- Seminole – 5290 Seminole Blvd. Suite D, St. Petersburg, FL 33708
You can also call now for a free consultation on (800) 800-4300.