Rideshare car accidents often prove complex for various reasons, so knowing who can sue, who you should sue, and when you can sue them often proves difficult for most people without a background in law. For example, you can sue Lyft after an injury accident but only under specific circumstances, such as when the company’s negligence led to your crash.
Read on to learn about recovering compensation after a Lyft car accident and what you can do to get the money you deserve.
What Makes Lyft Rideshare Accidents so Complex?
Rideshare accidents often prove complex for two distinct reasons, as discussed below.
Multiple Parties in the Accident
A liable party bears financial responsibility for the car accident. If someone faces an injury in most car accident situations, the party that caused the crash often bears liability for the damages victims suffered. In most car accidents, you only need to figure out who caused the crash to determine liability and there’s typically only one liable party.
Here’s where it gets complicated. Lyft accidents may involve more than one liable party.
After all, Lyft accidents usually involve at least two drivers and will always involve one additional party that could bear liability for the accident: Lyft, the rideshare company. Often, Lyft’s insurance policy will bear financial responsibility for a crash. However, exceptions exist to that rule. These cases often prove more complicated to sort out when filing a compensation claim.
Transportation Network Company Laws
It’s not just the presence of several parties that makes Lyft car crashes complex. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t always make things easier. Each state has its own transportation network company (TNC) laws. The TNC laws stipulate what the rideshare companies must do. One of these laws is that the rideshare company must maintain liability insurance if a Lyft driver causes an accident that injures others or results in property damage.
However, rideshare companies have complicated insurance policies. Your coverage will vary based on the Lyft driver’s status at the time of the crash, assuming the Lyft driver bears fault.
Lyft Drivers Do Not Constitute Employees
While many people drive for Lyft, they do not constitute employees of the rideshare network company. Instead, they act as independent contractors. Independent contractors have a contract to provide rides to people under the Lyft brand, but they work for themselves. They drive their vehicles, choose their work hours, decide their locations, and generally control their work.
Since Lyft drivers are not employees, the rideshare company or its insurance carrier only bears financial responsibility for their actions under certain circumstances, per TNC laws.
Is Lyft Liable for a Driver’s Negligence?
Under the legal concept of vicarious liability, employers bear responsibility for the actions of their employees while on the job. If the employee’s careless actions cause harm to someone else, the employer would pay for the damages. As Lyft drivers act as independent contractors and not employees. However, Lyft has a different legal responsibility in the event of an accident.
This is where TNC laws come into play. These laws ensure that, even though Lyft’s drivers are contractors, the rideshare companies still offer insurance coverage if Lyft drivers cause a crash.
So, if a Lyft driver causes a car accident and injures another person while being legally considered on duty, Lyft’s insurance company bears liability for damages to the injured party. That means Lyft’s insurer must pay, but the company doesn’t pay directly. Instead, its liability insurance policy covers damages incurred by crash victims.
Lyft Insurance Coverage
As you can imagine, Lyft’s insurance coverage isn’t simple either. Rideshare companies maintain a different minimum level of insurance coverage depending on their driver’s status. The driver’s status could include the following:
1. The Driver Is Not Logged on to the Lyft App
When the Lyft driver is not logged into the app but using their vehicle, the driver bears responsibility for damages resulting from a crash they cause. Because the driver is off duty, their personal auto insurance would cover victims’ losses.
2. The Driver Is Logged On to the Lyft App and Waiting for Ride Requests
Once the driver logs onto the Lyft app, they are on duty. At this point, they can accept ride requests.
If the driver does not have insurance coverage that applies, Lyft will cover damages up to the limits below:
- $50,000/person for bodily injury
- $100,000/accident for bodily injury
- $25,000/accident for property damage
3. The Driver Is En Route to a Passenger
As the driver picks up a passenger, any accident that the driver causes can get coverage including:
- $1 million policy that includes bodily injury and property damage
- First-party insurance coverage, which could include personal injury protection, MedPay, uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, and Occupational Accident coverage, depending on your state
- Comprehensive and collision coverage for the driver if they carry this coverage on their personal auto insurance
4. The Lyft Driver Is Carrying a Passenger
If the driver causes a collision while the Lyft driver transports a passenger to their destination, Lyft’s full $1 million policy should cover the damage.
Can You Sue Lyft Directly?
In most circumstances, if Lyft bears liability for an injury accident, the victims would file a claim against the Lyft insurance policy. However, in certain situations, a victim can sue Lyft directly after a negligent driver causes a crash.
General Company Negligence
Generally, you can file a lawsuit against the rideshare company if it was negligent. For example, if Lyft failed to fulfill its duties and that failure led to a car accident that injured you, you can sue the rideshare company. Any act or omission by Lyft that gave way to the accident could constitute negligence.
For example, if Lyft fails to enforce vehicle inspections and the driver later faces a crash in which the vehicle malfunctions, the rideshare company may bear liability.
If Lyft fails to perform its due diligence in screening drivers before hiring them, the company may bear fault for a car accident that the driver causes. For instance, Lyft must conduct a background check on the driver, looking into their driving record and criminal history. Unfortunately, sometimes the company does not investigate the driver’s history thoroughly.
Suppose a driver has a DUI on his record. If that driver goes on to strike a pedestrian while driving under the influence, Lyft may bear responsibility. A Lyft driver with prior convictions or a poor driving record could endanger others. When this happens, you may have a right to sue.
While Lyft drivers do not have supervisors in the traditional sense, Lyft still bears responsibility for monitoring the actions of its drivers. If a driver received multiple complaints from customers, citations for moving violations, or arrests for criminal behavior but was still allowed to drive, you could sue for negligent retention if they go on to cause a crash.
What if the Lyft Driver Did Not Cause the Car Accident?
Not all crashes involving a rideshare vehicle result from the rideshare driver’s fault. A third-party driver could bear the blame. In that case, if you suffered injuries or property damage, you would file a claim against the third-party driver’s insurance or sue the driver directly. The same holds if the crash resulted from defective car parts or tires. You may have a case against the vehicle manufacturer or tire company.
Establishing Negligence in a Lyft Injury Accident
Obtaining compensation through a personal injury claim usually requires demonstrating that negligence took place and led to the crash. Car accident lawyers look to establish the four elements of negligence to build a compelling case.
For example, a Lyft accident attorney can search for this evidence to support your claim:
- Duty of Care: An attorney can show that the at-fault party had a duty to act with care. If the Lyft driver was at fault, he or she had a duty to drive carefully. In Lyft’s case, the company must carefully vet its drivers. Generally, the defending party owes some form of care to the victim in personal injury claims.
- Breach of Duty: After establishing a duty of care, it’s crucial to demonstrate that the at-fault party failed to fulfill that duty. For example, perhaps the Lyft driver was driving while tired and fell asleep at the wheel, or maybe Lyft failed to flag a driver who had multiple moving violations just two months before applying for the job.
- Causation: Your attorney must gather proof that the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the Lyft injury accident. For instance, the driver’s falling asleep led to the collision. On a larger scale, Lyft’s failure to flag a driver with a poor driving record allowed the driver to provide a Lyft ride. On the ride, he ultimately committed another moving violation that caused the crash. Without this proximate cause, the accident would not have occurred.
- Damages: As a result of the careless actions of the opposing party, you endured injuries or losses that you did not have prior to the Lyft accident. This could include physical injuries, financial losses, or emotional losses that resulted from the crash.
Filing a Lyft Injury Accident Claim
Any victim who suffers economic or non-economic losses due to a car accident could seek damages in a personal injury claim. Economic losses encompass all the expenses you’ve incurred because of the Lyft injury accident, such as medical bills.
Non-economic losses refer to your physical or emotional damage. This category of damage is also called pain and suffering. A broken leg or insomnia brought on by the collision constitute examples of pain and suffering.
You could recover the following types of damages in a Lyft car accident claim:
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Lost income and benefits
- Lost earning capacity
- Car repairs or replacement
- Diminished value of your vehicle
- Transportation costs
- Physical trauma
- Emotional distress (e.g., depression, fear, insomnia, etc.)
- Diminished quality of life
- Reduced enjoyment of activities
A car accident attorney can help you determine the specific damages you could seek in your Lyft accident claim.
Gathering Evidence to Support a Lyft Accident Claim for Compensation
It’s helpful to have a car accident lawyer on your side who has experience in handling rideshare accident claims rather than attempting to deal with them on your own.
You may have the option of filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. In either case, your lawyer can facilitate the insurance claim or legal process.
To build your claim, a Lyft accident lawyer can investigate the crash to determine who bears fault and ultimately identify who bears liability for paying your damages. Personal injury attorneys have access to resources that you may not have at your disposal.
An attorney may retrieve evidence such as the following to support your Lyft injury claim:
- Crash report
- Traffic camera footage
- Dashboard camera footage
- Cell phone video
- Nearby surveillance video
- Eyewitness testimony
- Lyft driver criminal history and driving record
- Crash reconstruction analysis
- Photo and video of injuries and property damage
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Receipts and bills for accident-related expenses
- Expert testimony from economists and doctors
An Attorney Can Help You File a Claim or a Lawsuit After a Lyft Accident
Like with most other types of motor vehicle accidents, it’s a good idea to have a car accident attorney helping you navigate the process of filing a claim for compensation after a rideshare crash. Whether you file an insurance claim or sue Lyft for an injury accident, a legal professional has the tools and financial resources to pursue your just compensation.