Were You in a Car Accident While Riding With Lyft?
Lyft has made traveling that much easier for people without cars or people who would rather have someone else drive them to a specific destination. They have taken over the taxi world in a big way because of the convenience as well as the price. After all, a rider can order a Lyft off of his or her phone and have a car pick him or her up in a matter of minutes.
Unfortunately, while Lyft has made it easier for people to get around, rideshare services have not omitted car accidents. An article published on Business Insider notes:
“The arrival of ridesharing is associated with an increase of 2-3% in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents,” researchers John Barrios of the University of Chicago along with Yael Hochberg and Livia Hanyi Yi of Rice University, write in a draft of their paper, which is in the preliminary stages of publication.
That begs the question: What do you do when you get in a car accident while riding with Lyft?
To help better answer that question, it’s crucial to consider the statistics surrounding Lyft, proper protocol to take after an accident, whose insurance applies, and how to file a lawsuit against Lyft.
Many people are ditching their automobiles in favor of rideshare companies like Lyft.
Here are just some of the intriguing statistics that show the rise of these services.
- 23 million people use Lyft.
- 1.5 million people drive with Lyft.
- Lyft has given over one billion rides.
- Lyft operates in over 300 cities across the United States and Canada.
Proper Protocol To Take After a Lyft Accident
Whether you’re in an accident in a Lyft ride or another form of automobile, there are safety protocols you should abide by.
- The driver should stop the vehicle so all passengers can exit.
- To ensure further damage isn’t caused, the driver should turn on their hazard lights.
- If you, another passenger, or the driver isn’t seriously injured and the vehicle is movable, the car should be moved to the shoulder of the road, as moving to a safe area can ensure no further damage is caused.
- Whether it’s you, the driver, or another vehicle involved, someone should call 911 (and the drivers should exchange insurance information if more than one vehicle is involved).
- Even if your symptoms don’t seem severe at the time of the accident, you should receive medical attention once paramedics arrive. Even dizziness can become a severe problem later, and some people don’t notice pain until the day after an accident.
- Talk to necessary parties, such as the Lyft driver, any other drivers involved in the accident, and the police to ensure you can file a proper claim. Despite the fact that you’re not the driver, you are involved, and it’s important to make sure statements made by other people involved in the accident are accurate. (For more details on what to do after an accident and to ensure all parties are following proper protocol, you can read this step-by-step guide).
Whose Insurance Applies?
This is where things tend to get chaotic. After all, if you’re injured, whose policy applies? Yours, the policy of the driver at fault, or Lyft’s?
If the Lyft driver is at fault:
In most cases, the passenger is never liable because Lyft carries liability insurance. However, there is a gray area because insurance is split between the driver’s personal insurance and Lyft’s insurance policy. If the driver’s insurance provider denies the claim because of a business use exception, then Lyft’s insurance should step in to make sure all parties are covered, assuming the Lyft driver is at fault. This will occur as long as the driver’s app is online, which it should be because of insurance purposes, as well as having to have the app online to see where to pick up and take passengers.
According to Lyft, “Our contingent liability coverage is designed to provide coverage when the app is in driver mode before you’ve received a ride request in the event your personal insurance does not respond. The policy has a $50,000 maximum limit per person, $100,000 maximum limit per accident, and a $25,000 maximum limit for property damage…
“Our primary liability insurance is designed to act as the primary coverage from the time you accept a ride request until the time the ride has ended in the app. The policy has a $1,000,000 per accident limit. Note: If you already carry commercial insurance (or personal coverage providing specific coverage for ridesharing), Lyft’s policy will continue to be excess to your insurance coverage.”
If the other driver is at fault
Under the above terms and conditions, you’re covered up to the maximum limits set out if you’re injured at the fault of the Lyft driver. What happens if the Lyft driver isn’t at fault, though?
If the other driver is at fault for the accident, then the driver’s policy applies via a third-party car insurance claim against this driver’s car insurance carrier. In a worse-case scenario, you might even need to make a personal injury lawsuit if you aren’t fully covered.
According to Lyft, “In the event of an accident (once you have accepted a ride or are transporting a passenger) with a driver who is uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) and is ultimately at fault for bodily injury caused to you and/or your passengers, our UM/UIM coverage will apply (coverage limits vary by state). There is no deductible on our UM/UIM policy.”
Lyft’s coverage is provided in all 50 states, “except for those rides originating in New York City with a TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission) driver,” and “Some regions may have specific requirements that modify the described coverage.”
If the insurance policy of the at-fault driver or Lyft are inadequate to fully compensate you, or the policies refuse to pay out for your injury, then you can try to file a lawsuit against Lyft.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Lyft
This will probably be a last-resort scenario, as it will likely be unnecessary.
Lyft’s drivers are independent contractors, not employees, which is an important distinction because a company is likely to be more legally responsible for its employees and not independent contractors. Therefore, if negligence is identified, then Lyft might not be at fault even if the Lyft driver was deemed the at-fault driver.
It should be noted that filing a lawsuit against Lyft should be looked at as an extreme case since Lyft’s insurance coverage should be an adequate option for passengers given the protection options mapped out under Lyft’s insurance policy.
While no one ever wants to imagine getting in a car accident while riding with Lyft, it’s important to know what your options are if an accident does occur — and if you’re injured — so you can be prepared for the unexpected if it does happen.