Can You Sue Lyft After an Accident?


Mohit Kamboj

Most people assume their safety is guaranteed when they ride an Uber or Lyft. But while most are excellent drivers Uber and Lyft drivers aren’t professionals.

There is always the possibility of being in an accident with another driver, pedestrian, or motorcyclist. A car accident can cause serious injuries that could cost you thousands of dollars or alter the course of your entire life. If you were injured in a ridesharing accident, you shouldn’t be required to pay for a traumatic incident that was not your fault so ask help of Kaplan Lawyers if a certain incident happens.

You may not be aware that Uber and Lyft have insurance policies of up to $1,000,000, which may be available to you if your claim for personal injury is filed. The amount you will receive depends on the facts of your case. There are also a few factors that could impact the size of your settlement.

Uber and Lyft are revolutionizing the taxi industry by offering rideshare services that offer convenience and low prices. They make it easier to travel for people who don’t own a car or don’t want to drive. A rider can easily order a Lyft from their smartphone and have it picked up within minutes in most locations. Unfortunately, despite rideshare services making it easier to travel, accidents in Lyft and Uber are not uncommon.

What happens if your Lyft is involved in an accident?

It’s important you know what happens if your Lyft driver crashes and how to file an

Lyft Accidents:

Lyft statistics from 2017 showed that ridesharing services have experienced explosive growth in recent times. That year:

  • Lyft was used by 23 million people
  • Lyft was used by 1.4 million drivers
  • Lyft drivers provided one billion rides
  • Lyft was available in more than 300 cities across America and Canada

This sharp increase in rideshare statistics can also be correlated with an increase in Lyft accidents and serious crashes. Business Insider reports:

“The arrival of ridesharing has been associated with an increase of 2-3% in the number of fatalities and motor vehicle accidents,” John Barrios, Yael Hochberg, and Livia Hanyi Yi, researchers at Rice University, wrote in a draft of their paper.

That study is part of a body of research that studies ride-sharing companies. Recent studies show that they increase congestion while reducing the use of public transportation. Cities are responding to perceived and actual harms. New York City’s council recently implemented a cap on ridesharing.

An article from MIT Technology Review titled, Uber and Lyft are behind a sharp rise in US traffic death highlights the problem. Just before Uber was launched in San Francisco, traffic deaths dropped to their lowest level. The lowest number of fatal car accidents since 1949 was 32,885 in 2010. After the introduction of ride-sharing services in cities across America, this decline was halted and reversed.

In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA noted that: “There were 37,461 people killed in crashes on US roadways during 2016, an increase from 35,485 in 2015.….Fatalities increased from 2015 to 2016 in almost all segments of the population—passenger vehicle occupants, occupants of large trucks, pedestrians, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists, alcohol-impaired driving, male/female, and daytime/nighttime….with the large increases in fatalities in 2015 and 2016, [the] decade-long downward trend of 21 percent has been reduced by more than one-third.”

When the Uber app was first introduced in 2009, few could have expected rideshare services to become as commonplace as they have, with approximately 1,658,000,000 Uber rides. Due to the increase in rideshare services, congestion in cities has led to more accidents. Rideshare drivers are known to “deadheading,” which is a practice that drivers spend 40-60% driving looking for passengers. This can partly explain the increased congestion in traffic.

Accidents are a Reality

Lyft and Uber are private companies, so they don’t have the obligation to make all their information public. Although it is difficult to know with certainty how many Uber or Lyft drivers use the roads each day, how many passengers are being transported, how often accidents occur, and how much Uber and Lyft have paid in damages to pedestrians, motorists and passengers, the information that is available might surprise you.

Here are the facts that we know.

  • Researchers at the University of Michigan have linked Uber and Lyft to a 2-3% increase in motor vehicle accidents and deaths.
  • In 2016, 10 Uber-related fatalities were reported.
  • Although the causes were varied, in personal injury cases involving Uber/Lyft collisions, plaintiffs received between .5 to $1.25 Million in damages.

Given the number of ridesharing vehicles, particularly in densely populated areas, accidents can and do happen often, causing serious injuries that may require litigation.

What to do if your Lyft is in an Accident

As with any other motor vehicle accident, Lyft collisions require that all parties follow certain safety protocols. Here are some examples:

  • The vehicle should be moved to the shoulder if you or another passenger are not seriously hurt and the car is still movable. Avoiding collisions can be prevented by moving to an area that is safe from traffic.
  • Turn on your hazard lights to warn other cars.
  • You, the driver, or another vehicle should dial 911. Drivers should also exchange information about insurance if more than one vehicle has been involved.
  • Even if you don’t feel any severe symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as paramedics arrive. Even mild dizziness may become a serious problem after the accident. Some people don’t feel any pain until days later. For some injuries, it may take a while before they become obvious. Understanding when can you sue after an accident is crucial for getting proper injury compensation.

To increase your chances of winning any Lyft insurance claims, speak to the driver, police and anyone else involved in the Lyft accident. Even though you are not the driver of the Lyft car accident, you are still involved. It is important that statements made by others involved in the accident are correct. You can find a step-by-step guide here for more information on how to handle any kind of car accident and to make sure that all parties follow the correct protocols.

Lyft and Car Insurance Considerations

Lyft Drivers Are Independent Contractors

It is unlikely that you can sue Lyft directly if you are involved in an accident with a Lyft driver. Lyft drivers don’t work directly for Lyft but are treated as independent contractors.

Employers can be held vicariously responsible for employees’ actions, but they are not liable for negligent or wrongful acts of independent contractors. Uber and Lyft offer their drivers a smartphone app to help them locate passengers. However, drivers drive their own vehicles and determine their work schedules and conditions.

Ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft are not liable for the actions of their drivers.

This means that you won’t be able to sue them after an accident. However, these companies are not immune from financial responsibility for any injuries or other damages that result from a collision involving their drivers.

All drivers of ride-share companies must have their own insurance. Both companies will add to that coverage and provide additional coverage for injuries when the driver transports a ride-share passenger or offers a fare via their app. It is important to have Lyft or Uber insurance. Personal insurance companies will not cover accidents that occurred while the insured was driving for hire. Drivers can buy ride-sharing endorsements to their personal policies in some states. This will allow them to step up with a passenger’s claim.

It is important to be aware of the insurance situation that ride-sharing drivers find themselves in. An endorsement means that the driver’s policy will not cover the incident unless it is approved by the driver. Uber and Lyft require that the driver use his own policy first. If the carrier denies the claim, then Lyft and Uber will cover. If the driver files a claim to Uber or Lyft, but does not have the endorsement, then his carrier can cancel his policy on the grounds of fraud. The terms of their insurance contract state that they will only use the vehicle for personal use. The passenger may be covered for his injuries, but the driver could lose his coverage.

Ride-Sharing Companies Offer Coverage

For driver insurance, ride-share companies generally follow a four-tiered approach:

Period 0. Period 0. The driver’s personal policies will govern any accident; Uber or Lyft policies won’t apply.

Tier One: The driver is using the app and cruising about, waiting for a match. The driver must first refer an injured person’s case to her own carrier if she causes an accident. Uber and Lyft policies will cover the claim if the carrier denies it

Tier Two: The claim must be dealt with in the same way as Period 1.

Tier Three: Drop-off ends the period. The two-step process described above also applies here. Submit the claim first at the driver’s company. If it’s denied, the Lyft/Uber policy will cover. The Lyft/Uber policies also apply to damage to the driver’s car. However, drivers must first check their policy. There is a risk that their insurance will be canceled. The coverage limits are very limited. They only cover the car’s cash value and have a deductible of $1,000 up to 2,500. Both companies offer insurance for uninsured motorists.

Since California’s controversial Proposition 22 passed, it has become more obvious that rideshare services will be around for the foreseeable future, especially in major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and Chicago.

California Prop 22 passed with more than 58%. Making rideshare drivers independent contractors and not employees in that state, which is a huge boon to companies. As travel becomes more common in the future, rideshare services will only rise in prominence. Unfortunately, this also means that there will be more car accidents and a need for an Uber or Lyft lawyer.

How can I find out how much my case is worth or what damages I am entitled to?

Each Lyft accident is unique. Because ridesharing is complex, it’s impossible to give a general settlement amount without discussing the details with a rideshare attorney. To ensure you fully understand your options after being injured in an accident involving one of these companies, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately.

Although an exact amount cannot be estimated without consulting an attorney, you can estimate how much you might be entitled to by determining the extent of your injuries and the activity of the driver at the time of the accident.

How bad were your injuries?

The settlement amount will probably be higher for more severe injuries. An insurance company will consider your case and any legal professionals involved.

If you sustained only fast-healing injuries (bruises or cuts) as a passenger in a Lyft accident, then you will not be awarded any compensation. If you were not seriously injured in a Lyft vehicle accident and could return to work as usual, then you won’t likely be compensated much.

However, if you were injured in a car accident and cannot work again, or have had to undergo rehabilitation, your chances of recovering $1 million in damages are much higher.

In settlements involving Uber or Lyft, damages include prescription medication, ambulance costs, doctor visits and vehicle repair or replacement. Counseling for PTSD and anxiety is also common. Loss of income or future lost earnings are all other examples.

What was the driver’s status?

Uber and Lyft drivers don’t technically work for the company. They are “independent contractors”, meaning that they have the right to deny liability if an accident happens. These companies have insurance policies that protect their drivers and passengers, provided certain conditions are met. The extent of coverage depends on the driver’s activities.

The primary insurance would cover the driver if he was available to pick up passengers, but not yet carrying one. Uber and Lyft offer additional injury coverage up to $100,000, with a maximum $250,000 for property damage. If the driver’s personal insurance doesn’t fully cover the expenses of the injured party, this coverage will be available in a settlement.

  • Uber/Lyft may cover the driver and passenger who were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
  • Uber and Lyft may cover the driver and passengers if the accident was caused or contributed to by an underinsured or uninsured driver.
  • Lyft liability coverage will not be available to drivers/at-fault parties. However, most times, the $1 million policy may still be available to you if you are injured in an accident.

What insurance is available from Lyft in the event of an accident?

Here is where things can get very complicated. It can be confusing to determine which policy applies to you if you are injured.

If Lyft driver is at fault

The standard Lyft insurance policy covers liability insurance, so the passenger is usually not liable. There is a gray area because the insurance policy covers both the driver’s personal and Lyft insurance policies. Lyft’s insurance policy should cover all parties if the driver’s insurer denies the claim due to a business use exception. As long as the driver’s application is online, this will happen (which should be done for insurance purposes and to allow passengers to pick up and return).

Lyft states that “our contingent liability coverage was designed to cover you when Lyft is in driver mode and before you have received a ride request. If your personal insurance doesn’t respond, Lyft will provide coverage.” The policy includes a maximum limit of $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.

As Lyft states: “Our primary liability insurance acts as your primary coverage, from the moment you accept a ride request to the end of the ride in the app. There is a $1,000,000 limit per accident. Lyft will not replace your existing commercial insurance or personal coverage that provides ridesharing coverage.

If the other driver is to blame:

You are covered up to the maximum limit under the terms and conditions if you are injured due to the fault of the Lyft driver. But what happens if the Lyft driver doesn’t have fault?

If the accident is caused by the other driver, the policy of the driver applies through a third-party claim against the car insurance carrier. If you don’t have enough coverage, it may be worth filing a lawsuit to obtain personal injury for Lyft accidents.

Lyft states that in the event of an injury to bodily or property caused by an accident (once you accept a ride or transport a passenger), Lyft’s UM/UIM coverage will apply (coverage limits differ from state to state). Our UM/UIM policy does not have a deductible.

Lyft covers all 50 states except New York City, where Lyft has a TLC driver. Some regions may have special requirements that might alter the coverage.

Lyft may be sued if the insurance policies of the at-fault driver and Lyft do not adequately compensate you or refuse to pay for your injuries.

Can You Sue Lyft for an Accident?

Lyft will be less likely to be held responsible for negligence if it is established (even if Lyft driver is deemed at-fault).

Lyft lawsuits should not be considered extreme cases. Lyft’s insurance coverage should provide adequate protection for passengers, given the Lyft insurance policy’s protection options.

Although a Lyft accident is not something anyone wants to be in, knowing what your options are should an accident occur and how to handle it can help you prepare for anything.

Rideshare Crash Liable Parties

Determining who is responsible for a rideshare accident can be compared to other vehicle collisions. The rideshare operator could be held civilly liable for any injuries they cause if they are negligent in causing the accident.

A passenger who is injured by negligence can usually sue the employer of the negligent driver. However, Lyft doesn’t consider rideshare drivers to be employees and this unique situation makes it difficult to sue these companies directly in all jurisdictions. It is important to remember that this area is still unresolved. Therefore, it is worthwhile to speak with an attorney about your legal options.

Although a direct lawsuit against Uber and Lyft might not be possible in your situation, it does not mean that they are completely out of the loop after a crash.

Both Uber and Lyft require drivers to have minimum liability insurance coverage. These policies typically have limits that are much higher than those of individual drivers.

A rideshare driver could be classified in one of three ways for insurance purposes. The rideshare driver’s specific status will determine how much coverage they have and whether Uber or Lyft insurance policies can be used.

  • A driver transports a rider – Uber and Lyft offer the best insurance benefits when a driver transports a paying passenger. These cases are covered by rideshare companies up to $1,000,000 in liability coverage. You can file a claim with Lyft or Uber if you were involved in an accident involving a rideshare driver and a passenger.
  • A Rider is Actively Looking for a Driver- Even if a rideshare driver isn’t actively transporting passengers, they may still be eligible for insurance coverage. This is only available if the driver is actively seeking passengers using the app. Lyft and Uber offer bodily injury coverage up to $100,000 per accident and $50,000 per person for Uber. They also offer up to $25,000 coverage for property damage. The rideshare passengers and third party injured by the driver could also be eligible for this coverage.
  • Driver Not Using the Rideshare App – Uber and Lyft drivers who use their car for personal purposes only, but are not using the app to communicate with passengers, do not fall under the rideshare company’s coverage. These companies state that these drivers do not act as agents for the company if they actively seek passengers. You may get compensation from the driver of your personal auto insurance policy if you are involved in an accident with a rideshare driver.

What damages can I recover?

You will receive compensation for your economic (or “special”) damages, just like any other car accident.

Your economic losses will include the cost of replacing or repairing any damaged property, the payment of past and/or future medical expenses, and compensation for lost wages due to your accident injuries. Non-economic damages include suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.

Handling insurance claims for accidents involving Uber or Lyft can be a complex process. You need an advocate with extensive knowledge of rideshare laws in their state to help file a claim and fight for justice.