Ride-share companies are booming in business and popularity. The convenience of ride-shares prompts many of us to use this service — but are you putting your safety at risk when you do?
Ride-shares such as Lyft do get into accidents with passengers on board. If you’re in an accident with a Lyft vehicle — whether as a passenger or another driver on the road — there are things you can do to protect your rights.
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How Do Lyft Car Accidents Happen, and What is the Process of Recovering Damages?
There are many things that can cause a Lyft accident. The Lyft driver may be at fault, whether because they failed to obey a traffic signal or rule, drove recklessly, or were drowsy, distracted, or impaired while driving. Or, the accident may be a direct result of Lyft’s negligent supervision, training, or hiring of its driver—for example, by not making sure the driver was properly trained in the rules of the road before allowing them to take on passengers. Of course, a Lyft accident might also be caused by other drivers on the road.
An accident involving a Lyft will likely require you to file a claim for negligence. You will need to prove that the at-fault party — whether the driver, the company, or a third party — breached the duty of reasonable care on the road, causing your injuries.
In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases filed against Lyft as a result of accidents with the company’s vehicles. In a California case, a Lyft driver drove negligently when he fell asleep at the wheel and struck a light pole. His passenger, a 70-year-old woman suffered traumatic injuries, ultimately leading to her tragic death.
In another case, an injured passenger in Chicago sued Lyft to recover for his serious head injuries after he was struck while riding in a Lyft vehicle. The Lyft driver in that case was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. The Lyft driver crossed the center line and struck another vehicle head-on. A fellow passenger died as a result of the Lyft driver’s negligent actions.
Depending on the specific facts, Lyft accidents can give rise to a number of different claims. For example:
- You may be a passenger in a Lyft vehicle when it collides with another vehicle or otherwise gets into a car crash. If the Lyft driver was at fault and failed to exercise reasonable care on the road, and you are injured, you may bring a claim for negligence against them to recover from your injuries.
- You may also bring a negligence action against Lyft under vicarious liability, which holds the company liable for the negligent actions of its driver or employee. To recover, you will need to prove that the driver acted within the scope of their employment duties — that is, they were doing their job at the time of the accident — and that they were indeed an agent, or employee, of the company.
- You may be a driver or passenger in another vehicle that is involved in an accident with a Lyft vehicle, or, you may even be hit by a Lyft driver while you are on the road as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist. If you suffer injuries as a result of the driver’s actions, you may also be able to sue for negligence.
- You might be the victim of negligence. You may also bring a claim that Lyft negligently hired, trained, or supervised its driver, directly resulting in injury or damages to customers or others on the road. If the driver’s actions resulted from a lack of proper training, hiring, or supervision by the company.
Lyft accidents can be quite different from other car crashes. For starters, there are more parties involved: in many cases, if the Lyft driver was at fault, you may be able to file a claim against them as well as against the company. Of course, in many cases, Lyft will agree that it should not be held liable for the actions of its employees; however, you may have a claim against the company under the legal action of vicarious liability, which is a remedy you can use to hold the company responsible for the actions of its employee.
It is important to note that your claim might also involve multiple insurance companies, which means you will need to negotiate carefully. Connecting with a knowledgeable Lyft accident lawyer can help you navigate the complex process of negotiating with insurance companies.
How Does Insurance Work in Connection with Lyft Vehicles?
In many states, Lyft and other ride-share operators are mandated to maintain certain types and amounts of insurance—first and foremost, it is important to know and understand the laws of your state regarding any mandates, which will help you understand whether Lyft followed the laws of your state regarding liability insurance.
Lyft also provides much information about insurance on its website. It provides proof of insurance and certificates in various states. It also discusses many scenarios that apply to the issue of insurance coverage in the case of an accident. As the company itself puts it: “The subject of insurance can be complicated, but it’s important you know how and when our policies cover you and your passengers in the event of an incident.”
While the Lyft app is on, and the driver is actively engaged in providing a ride-share service, “Lyft provides the following insurance for covered accidents: $1,000,000 for 3rd-party auto liability; Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury and/or first-party coverage; Contingent comprehensive & collision up to the actual cash value of the car ($2,500 deductible),” according to the company’s website. That same website discusses insurance coverage while waiting for a ride request, contingent collision coverage, contingent comprehensive coverage, and express drive coverage, among other issues. There is a separate page that discusses insurance coverage for Lyft deliveries.
What Does Lyft Say About Reporting an Accident Involving One of its Vehicles?
On its website, Lyft provides instructions for reporting an accident that involved one of its vehicles. In case of emergency, the company says you should call 911, or you can also activate an alert directly in the Lyft app. “Riders can request help discreetly by tapping ‘Alert 911 silently’ in the app. A member from ADT will then contact law enforcement to share your location details. You won’t be contacted by phone unless requested. Drivers that activate their ADT alert will always be contacted by phone. If the call is not answered, ADT will then contact 911 to provide your location details. You’ll be provided with real-time updates in the Lyft app with the status of your emergency request,” the company notes on its website.
To report an accident, Lyft offers a button on its website that connects you with their Claims Customer Care team. This applies to cases of vehicle collisions, vehicles striking objects, and vehicles damaging third-party property. There is another form that can be filled out for post-collision inspections, should you have damage to your vehicle. That form is to be used after reporting an accident to Lyft.
How do you Recover from Injuries and Damages?
The process of recovering from your injuries is often lengthy and difficult, but securing the help of an experienced Lyft accident attorney can mean a better chance of being fairly and adequately compensated.
Generally, the process begins with the filing of a claim against Lyft, the driver, and their insurance companies. It is possible to file a claim against multiple parties, particularly where it isn’t clear who is responsible for the accident—for example, the driver may be liable if they were driving negligently, but Lyft may also be liable if they failed to screen or train the driver correctly.
Once your claim is filed, the process of negotiating begins. Negotiating a settlement with a large company like Lyft or its insurer can be a daunting task. After all, the goal of the company and the insurer is to minimize liability and payouts, and victims often don’t have access to the same level of resources, whether legal, financial, or time. Connecting with a knowledgeable Uber accident lawyer can help you navigate the complex process of bringing a personal injury claim.
Before your lawsuit is filed, your attorney will meet with you to discuss the trial process and procedures involved. Your attorney will likely also review with you the facts of your case, and discuss details about their representation of your claim. Before filing the complaint, your attorney will perform important legal research, as well as investigate the facts, gather documentation, interview witnesses, and make a plan for proceeding with the case.
Generally, a lawsuit begins with the filing of a complaint or petition in the appropriate court. Your attorney will file a complaint on your behalf, detailing your claims and damages and asking the court for relief. Next, the parties will enter the period of discovery, which allows them to exchange pertinent information. You might be asked to take a deposition, answering the insurance company’s or Lyft’s questions under oath.
It is essential that you work with your attorney to prepare for this, as well as any other discovery requests you might receive, such as a request for important documents about your injuries. Your attorney will send requests of their own to Lyft, to the driver, and to the insurance company. The responses you get back to these requests will help your attorney prepare your case for trial.
If a trial is needed, your attorney will advocate on your behalf in court, presenting your evidence that establishes liability against the driver, against Lyft, and against the insurance company. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury will render its verdict, followed by the judgment of the court, which is the final outcome of the case. If that outcome does not turn out in your favor, you may have the right to appeal the jury verdict to a higher court.
So what steps should you take following a Lyft accident in order to protect your rights? Here’s a comprehensive checklist:
- At the accident scene
- First, be sure you get to a safe place, away from traffic and off the road.
- Call the police and first responders to report the accident.
- Take down contact information for the Lyft driver and any other parties who were involved in the accident. Be sure you double-check the spelling of their name and note any identification numbers and employee numbers.
- Obtain contact information from potential witnesses. If you are able, obtain statements from the witnesses regarding their observations and impressions of what happened.
- Take pictures, if you are able, of the scene of the accident. Photograph the damage to any vehicle, the place where the accident occurred, any road signs or traffic lights in the area, and your injuries, if it is safe and possible to do so.
- If you are injured, go to the emergency room or urgent care—it is imperative that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
- In the days that follow
- Continue seeking medical treatment. Some injuries can take a long time to manifest, and still others can become more problematic if you wait to be seen.
- Document the accident by writing down, in your own words, a comprehensive account of what happened.
- Report the accident to Lyft, using the company’s forms provided online. However, share only the details that are necessary to make the report—do not discuss liability, the extent of your injuries, or other legal issues, and definitely never admit fault, even if you believe you may have contributed to the accident. Contact an experienced Lyft car accident lawyer before you share details with the company, the insurance companies, or other parties involved.
- If possible, obtain a copy of the police report and any other reports taken at the scene of the accident.
- In the weeks and months that follow
- Consult with an experienced Lyft accident attorney to file your claim and begin negotiations with Uber, the driver, any other involved parties, as well as their insurance companies.
- Keep meticulous copies of any documents, reports, correspondence, and invoices. In particular, keep track of any paperwork which can help establish liability by Lyft or the other involved parties.
- Also save all of your invoices and proof of payments towards your damages and injuries, such as mechanic’s bills and medical bills.
- Continue receiving the medical care you need.
- Keep a periodic journal of your pain levels, mental anguish, and discomfort. Document any missed activities or other changes to the quality of your life that you are suffering due to the accident.
- If you need to miss work as a result of the accident, be sure you are keeping precise records of the time and income you are losing.
- Keep your attorney apprised of any updates to your case, such as new medical treatments you are receiving, or any correspondence you get from Lyft or its insurance company.
How Can an Attorney Help You Get Compensation for Your Injuries?
There are many reasons hiring an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help with your Lyft car accident case. Attorneys perform many different functions, including the following:
- Discerning the facts of your case. Your attorney can help investigate the site of your Lyft accident, interviewing key witnesses, compiling important documents, and reconstructing the accident. Piecing together the events of what happened is crucial to documenting the facts of your case correctly and effectively, and to assemble the evidence needed to convince the insurance company to settle or the jury to find in your favor.
- Providing legal advice, explaining your rights and your options, and discussing with you the potential next moves to make in your case. Lyft and its insurers have no shortage of experienced legal help and access to legal advice. By hiring your own attorney, you can make sure you are receiving sound legal advice of your own.
- Researching and applying the law that is involved in your claim. Many accident cases are not cut-and-dry, and they can involve multiple legal issues. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to discern the legal questions at play, research the law, and apply the law to the facts of your case to present your claims.
- Helping you ascertain your damages. It can be extremely difficult to put a dollar value on the injuries you have suffered in a Lyft accident, particularly when it comes to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or the loss of your quality of life. An attorney who has worked on many similar cases can help value your damages, working with you to ensure you are asking for a fair, reasonable, and adequate amount.
- Negotiating on your behalf. Negotiating with a large company like Lyft and its insurance providers can be a daunting and complex process. After all, big companies like Lyft have numerous legal and financial resources at their disposal, and their aim in a lawsuit is to avoid liability and minimize the payout of damages. Having an attorney advocate for you during negotiations with Lyft and its insurers can make a big difference in your recovery.
- Filing required pleadings, documents, and motions in the appropriate court. Personal injury cases can mean a lot of paperwork, much of which is deeply specialized and must follow a particular format. An experienced personal injury attorney can make sure your documents are thoroughly prepared, relevant, and procedurally correct.
- Advocating on your behalf in court and arguing your case. Should settlement negotiations fail, you will likely need to go to trial and present your case to a jury.
It is essential that you have a competent attorney during that process, to present your evidence, elicit your testimony and that of your witnesses, argue your claims, lay out the basis of your case, and advocate for you to receive adequate damages. Not only will an attorney help build your case — they will also help anticipate and counter the arguments presented by Lyft, the driver, and the insurance company.
How Can FVF Help?
Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer can be the most valuable decision you make in your accident case against Lyft. At FVF, our aim is to educate you on your rights and options following an accident, discuss potential next steps, and file a claim on your behalf. We will work with you to negotiate with Lyft and its insurers, in order to help you obtain a fair and reasonable settlement. Contact our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation about your case.