We Represent Individuals Injured in Accidents Caused By Negligent Lyft Drivers
There are a number of app-based ride-sharing services that enable people to take out their smartphones, tap a couple of icons, and order a ride. Uber is still the largest in the U.S., but many others, such as Curb, Wingz, and Via, offer essentially the same service, although not in as many locations. Going head-to-head with Uber, though, is the second-largest ride-sharing service in the country, operating essentially everywhere in the U.S. that Uber does: Lyft. In fact, after what can only be described as a very bad year for Uber, Lyft has picked up market share over the last year, mostly at Uber’s expense. With more attractive pricing options and drivers in more than 300 U.S. cities, Lyft has proven almost as appealing to ride-seekers as Uber and might be on its way to being even more popular than the industry leader.
While that says a lot about the cost and convenience of ride-share services in general and Lyft in particular – ride-share services are widely available, generally cheaper than taxis, and more convenient than rail, buses, or other modes of public transportation – what does it say about their safety? What happens if you are involved in an accident while getting a ride in a Lyft car? After all, the person driving is a professional driver only in the sense that you are paying him or her. You have no idea whether the driver has any special training or ability – unlikely – or what the driver’s insurance policy covers.
What Happens if Your Lyft Driver is Involved in an Accident?
Statistics on ride-share service accidents, including those involving Lyft, are virtually impossible to get. No one really knows whether traffic accidents involving ride-sharing vehicles are more, less, or just as likely to occur as any other traffic accident. A major U.S. newspaper’s investigation determined that statistics on accidents involving ride-share vehicles basically don’t exist. If Lyft keeps such statistics, it doesn’t release them, and few, if any, governments – state, local, or federal – collect such statistics. Ride-share accidents aren’t distinguishable from any other private-vehicle accidents – it’s just somebody’s car, after all – and so statistics on injuries or deaths in Lyft and other ride-share vehicles are just included in all other traffic accidents.
Given the popularity of ride-sharing services – roughly one in five Americans has taken a ride in such a service at least once – it is inevitable that many people will at some point take a trip in a Lyft car. It is equally inevitable that some of those Lyft riders will be involved in traffic accidents. While most – likely the vast majority – will enjoy a convenient, affordable ride to their destination without incident, some will not. Some will be involved in a traffic accident, unable to do a thing about it from their spot in the back seat. And, also inevitably, some of those Lyft riders will suffer injuries in those traffic accidents. Given that most people who have taken a ride-sharing car, including Lyft, live in major metropolitan areas such as Miami, some of those accident victims taking a Lyft car are likely to be in Miami. It could happen to you. If it does, then what?
Riding in a Lyft Car Does Not Require You to Give Up Your Rights
While riding in any car, including your own, carries some risk of being involved in a traffic accident, opting to take a Lyft car to your destination doesn’t mean you are unprotected. Lyft provides its drivers with liability insurance of up to $1 million if they have an accident while they have a paying passenger. This insurance covers Lyft drivers in all 50 states. It applies to any injuries or deaths of Lyft passengers that result from a Lyft driver’s fault or negligence. It also covers such injuries or deaths in accidents involving a Lyft driver and uninsured motorists who are at fault. Lyft advises its riders and drivers to notify the police and contact Lyft if they are involved in an accident. While that advice is good, it doesn’t go far enough. If possible, you should document the circumstances of your accident, taking pictures and getting witness contact information. These measures will help you protect your rights later.
While Lyft offers reasonably generous liability coverage for its drivers, it is entirely possible that coverage will not be sufficient to compensate you for your losses. Auto accidents often result in severe, life-long injuries, including brain, head, and spinal injuries. The cost of treatment and care for these injuries, especially long-lasting or permanent injuries, can easily exceed Lyft’s liability coverage for its drivers, and that doesn’t even take into account lost wages and other, non-medical, damages. If that is the case, Lyft is likely to fight hard against paying anything beyond the insurance policy limits.
Lyft argues that its drivers are independent contractors, and so far court decisions have sided with Lyft. That means that you might be unable to successfully sue Lyft for a Lyft driver’s actions that go beyond the scope of the service the driver is under contract to provide on Lyft’s behalf. That would include negligent driving, meaning that Lyft is unlikely to be found liable for any damages that exceed Lyft’s liability coverage that it provides for its drivers. That insurance likely will be the only remedy available from Lyft for passengers injured during a Lyft ride. If the coverage is not enough, you could be in for a legal battle to protect your rights to compensation, and that means finding a Miami traffic accident attorney.
If You Are Hurt in a Lyft Accident, Contact a Miami Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident while using a Lyft ride-share vehicle, you should talk to a Miami personal injury attorney to find out about your options for recovering damages. Contact Flagler Personal Injury Group at (305) 424-8445 or through our online contact form. Flagler Personal Injury Group serves the greater Miami area.