If a Lyft accident injures you or a loved one, your legal mission is to get all the compensation you deserve for your injuries. One common question is whether you can sue Lyft directly for accident injuries, and while the explanation below makes it seem very unfair, the answer is no.
Still, there are ways that you can obtain compensation for your accident. You should contact an experienced Lyft accident attorney to learn about your legal pathways to financial compensation in your case.
In any personal injury action, you are always searching for the defendant with the deepest pockets against whom to file a lawsuit. In some cases, you can even file a lawsuit against a company because they are vicariously responsible for the actions of their employees.
Usually, that will maximize your personal injury recovery, and in most cases, the legal rule is that you are always looking for the company to sue. However, the rideshare model has turned that legal proposition on its head and does not benefit the average person hailing a ride. Don’t hesitate to contact a seasoned car accident attorney to explain your rights.
You Cannot Usually Sue Lyft Directly After a Car Accident
The way Lyft has engineered its role is to make itself a middleman in the process. Lyft provides the technology that connects you to the driver, where they collect the money from you and distribute it to the driver.
Regarding their relationship with the driver, Lyft claims not to employ the driver directly. According to Lyft, the driver is an independent contractor and nothing more, and Lyft takes advantage of this distinction in many ways.
Concerning lawsuit liability, Lyft has also creatively managed to escape most types of liability for the actions of its drivers. People can practically come off the street to drive for Lyft, and if they injure you through their carelessness, Lyft insulates itself from having to pay for what the driver did.
The fact that the driver is an independent contractor eliminates the employment relationship between the driver and Lyft; therefore, Lyft is not liable for the driver’s actions. Although it seems unfair that Lyft can collect up to a third of the driver’s earnings and have no legal liability for what they do, it reflects reality.
You Can Still File an Insurance Claim for a Lyft Accident
To be clear, you have some remedy in a Lyft accident case.
Lyft must provide a minimum insurance coverage for each car accident to be allowed to operate, and the policy provides the following levels of coverage:
- Up to $1 million in coverage per accident when the driver has either accepted a ride request or has a passenger in the car
- Up to $100,000 in coverage when the driver has the app on but does not have a passenger or a ride request
- At all other times, the Lyft driver’s personal car insurance policy applies
In most cases, there will be the maximum amount of coverage. However, drivers have also been known to deadhead, which means driving around high-traffic areas that produce higher fares. These drivers might not always have passengers lined up, leading to lower coverage.
For you, the question is determining who was at fault for the accident and how much coverage may pay for your injuries. You must do a substantial amount of legwork before you can file a claim. If you pursue your case before you know what is happening, it can cloud your legal picture.
There May Not Be as Much Money as You Think to Pay for Your Injuries
While $1 million seems like a lot of money, it is nowhere near as much as you think. First, the money is on a per-accident basis, and other people may also try to file claims against the same policy. If your Lyft driver was in a crash with another driver, the other motorist may also be trying to get money from the same pot.
Even $1 million may not pay for serious car accident injuries. Your medical bills alone can exceed that.
Thus, you need to maximize your recovery to the fullest extent possible. An experienced Lyft accident attorney can help and will give you a much better chance than if you were left to deal with an insurance company on your own.
Theoretically, you can hold a driver personally responsible for any damages over what the insurance company covers. Some drivers will purchase supplemental insurance to add more coverage to protect them when they have caused a serious accident.
However, let’s face it: the chances of getting a large amount of money from a Lyft driver personally are slim. Even if you do, collecting will take a long time and heavy effort.
Dealing with Lyft’s Insurance Companies Can Be Hard
Thus, you will be left to deal with Lyft’s insurance companies to get the money you deserve. You can already tell that the fix is in when rideshare companies refer to these insurance companies as their “partners.”
Then, everyone has their figurative hand in a victim’s pocket. Lyft pays these companies a large amount of money, and they want to keep as much of it as possible. The last thing they want to do is give it to you in a claim.
Lyft’s Insurance “Partners”
On its website, Lyft states that you can expect to “work with” one of the following during the claims process.
- Allstate Insurance Company (North Light Specialty Insurance Company)
- Liberty Mutual Insurance
- Mobilitas Insurance Company
- Progressive (United Financial Casualty Company)
- State Farm Insurance Company
- Travelers (Constitution State Services)
None of these companies have a sterling reputation for doing right by injured claimants, and some are known for using hard-nosed (and even underhanded) tactics to keep as much of their money as possible. You need experienced legal help when dealing with these insurance companies. Otherwise, you might end up with less money than you deserve.
The Times When You May Sue Lyft
There is one limited exception in which people have successfully sued Lyft. The company promises to conduct background checks on drivers before allowing them behind the wheel, including criminal and driving history.
Lyft has not always lived up to what it promised regarding background checks and has cut corners, allowing those with criminal records and poor driving histories behind the wheel. In shocking cases, drivers have committed sexual assaults against customers.
You can hold Lyft liable under a negligent hiring and retention theory because a business cannot just hire any independent contractor and allow them to work. They have to perform a thorough investigation and fire them if there is any risk of safety violations based on their record, and if they fail to do this, you can hold Lyft liable. Still, successful negligent hiring and retention cases against Lyft are relatively rare.
Can You Sue Lyft in the Future?
There are questions about whether this system will change in the future, allowing you to sue Lyft directly for injuries. Some states are trying to tighten the rules, forbidding Lyft from calling their drivers independent contractors.
The success of these efforts means you can sue Lyft in the future. For now, you still need to move legally against the insurance company and the driver personally.
Every time that there is some momentum in favor of fairness, Lyft claims that it might be the end of the rideshare system as we know it and states that they will need to raise prices prohibitively. However, these companies are still in business and making substantial money.
An attorney will track the legal developments in your state to help determine whether there may be an opening to sue Lyft.
You Need a Lawyer for Any Lyft Claim
You need an experienced attorney to represent you in a Lyft accident claim. Just because a Lyft driver was involved does not automatically mean they are liable, and you will still need to prove liability to get your money.
If you were a passenger in a Lyft accident, you must figure out which driver was responsible for filing a claim. If you were a driver involved in an accident with a Lyft driver, you must prove they were at fault to get financial compensation.
Then, you must negotiate the proper compensation for your accident claim. The insurance company will do everything possible to keep your payment low, and it means nothing to them to offer you a $10,000 settlement when they know your case is worth $100,000. It means quite a lot to them when you accept the offer because they have saved money at your expense.
How a Lyft Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
No matter how much Lyft tries to stack the deck against you, it is possible to obtain full and fair financial compensation in your case. However, it will be next to impossible if you do not have a lawyer because the insurance company will see you as a target of opportunity.
A Lyft car accident attorney can do the following in your case:
- Investigate the accident and help figure out which driver was to blame for the crash
- Estimate the value of your damages so you know how much to seek in financial compensation
- Deal with the insurance company, cutting off any of their efforts to make your claim harder or cost you money
- Negotiate settlement on your behalf, trying to get you every dollar that you deserve
- File a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary
There is little risk when you hire a Lyft accident lawyer because while they do not work for free, they are only paid if and when you win your case; therefore, they are highly motivated to get you the settlement you deserve. The risks are when you don’t seek help because fighting against insurance companies requires solid legal representation.
During a free consultation with a Lyft attorney, you can expect several things:
- Case evaluation: The attorney will assess the details of your Lyft-related incident. This includes the nature of the accident, injuries sustained, and any evidence you may have.
- Legal advice: The attorney will provide tailored legal advice based on the specifics of your case. They will explain your rights, potential legal options, and the best course of action to pursue a claim.
- Understanding your rights: You’ll gain a clear understanding of your legal rights in relation to the Lyft accident. This includes the right to compensation for injuries and damages.
- Exploration of liability: The attorney will help determine who may be liable for the accident, which can include the Lyft driver, other involved parties, or even Lyft itself.
- Discussion of potential damages: You’ll learn about the types of damages you may recover, such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
- Fee structure: The attorney will explain their fee structure, including any contingency fees, which means they only get paid if you win your case.
- Questions and concerns: You’re encouraged to ask any questions or voice concerns you may have about the legal process, ensuring you have a clear understanding.
Remember, a free consultation with New York personal injury lawyers is an opportunity for you to gather information and assess whether the attorney is the right fit for your case. It’s a no-obligation meeting that allows you to make an informed decision about pursuing a claim for your Lyft accident.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.