Who will pay for a passenger’s catastrophic injuries or death?

Shane Holland (24), riding with a friend in the heavy rain on Interstate 80, was killed when the Lyft vehicle he was riding in veered onto the right shoulder and hit a tree. Shane Holland’s was the first known death of a ridesharing passenger.

California Highway Patrol Officer Chad Hertzell stated, “It’s going to take a couple weeks to figure out who is at fault in the multicar crash.”

Lyft driver Shanti Adhikari (31), finding himself behind a car that was struck by a hit and run driver, tried to escape the collision on the right shoulder. The Lyft car hit a tree and spun into a second tree, near Sacramento, California.

Lyft Transportation Network Company

Lyft is permitted by the California Public Utility Commission to use smart phone applications to schedule rides in their drivers’ privately owned vehicles. Lyft allows drivers without major accident records, but also with no commercial driving qualifications, to shuttle passengers.

Lyft emphasizes that safety is their highest priority, provides $1 million in liability insurance for active drivers, and a “Trust and Safety Team” 24 hours each day to meet its passengers’ needs.

But what happens if your Lyft actually gets into an accident?

Mike D.

Rideshare Accident Client

Last year I was in a serious Motorcycle accident that was not my fault. Beyond the initial emergency room visit, I required surgery and months of rehab. All in all, my left leg will probably never reach 100%. It has been a stressful and scary year. But one of the comforts through it all has been the services that Sally Morin provided. While I was focused on my health, she was taking care of everything else.

And in the end she got the other driver’s insurance company to settle at an amount that was substantial enough to cover the pain and suffering I had incurred, as well ease my worries about paying for any future care related to the accident. She even got the medical collections to decrease my balance due by thousands. I was skeptical to hire a lawyer off of YELP, but in the end it was the best thing I could have done.

Liability for Lyft Accident

Liability depends on who caused the accident. The $1 million liability insurance policy pays when Lyft drivers are negligent, but the Lyft driver in this case did not case cause the accident.

If a hit and run driver causes an accident with a Lyft driver, Lyft will probably still pay for a passenger’s personal injuries or wrongful death through its uninsured motorist policy to their per accident policy limit of $1 million, which may be sufficient for one injured party, but at least three people were catastrophically injured in this case, and the Lyft driver also suffered personal injuries.

Vicarious Liability

The Lyft driver was driving in dangerous conditions on Interstate 80 because the two passengers scheduled a ride. The passengers did not cause the accident, but imputed negligence law implies that the passengers may be legally responsible for the conduct of the Lyft driver who was out in the heavy rain because they paid him to drive. Their failure to reschedule the trip due to inclement weather could constitute contributory negligence.

Divided Responsibility

Employers are legally responsible for their employees’ negligent driving, but Lyft does not directly employ it’s drivers. All their drivers must pass thorough background checks, but Lyft does not own or maintain its drivers’ motor vehicles. All their cars must meet higher safety inspection standards than most privately owned vehicles, but no additional qualifications on their drivers’ licenses certify Lyft drivers as commercial drivers.

Lyft Insurance

Lyft requires that their drivers’ personal car insurance meet or exceed state minimum requirements for liability coverage, but most comprehensive automobile liability and collision insurance policies exclude driving for hire, and will not pay for the driver’s property damage or injuries. Working for an employer from a personal vehicle is also probably excluded on the driver’s insurance policy.

Lyft Support Team

Lyft urges both passengers and drivers to contact their 24/7 Support Team for everything from roadside assistance to help with accidents, safety, and security issues. Their $1 million liability insurance is attached to million-dollar claims adjusters, who might initiate contact in the example case by asking why the passenger chose to go out in the pouring rain. “Did our driver do her best to get you where you wanted to go?”

After a Lyft Accident

When you notify Lyft of your accident as you are required to do, you should say as little as possible about your personal injuries. The 24-hour Lyft support team member will earnestly help you, and they may give you peace of mind, but your conversation will also be recorded. The customer support agent represents Lyft. Anything you say might limit their liability for the accident or reduce the amount of compensation you’ll be able to recover for accidental damages caused by the accident.

Lyft Driver’s Status

What happens after a Lyft accident can also depend on the status of your driver in Lyft’s online computer system. Has your driver officially accepted your trip? Is your operator legally in “driver mode” or between trips in the Lyft online application? The driver’s status will determine whether and how Lyft’s insurance will cover your medical expenses and damages after a personal injury accident.

Lyft Driver’s Insurance

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommends that ridesharing drivers purchase additional insurance specifically for drivers who carry passengers or spend more time driving than the average commuter. Automobile insurance agents offer quasi-commercial insurance coverage for real-estate agents and pizza delivery drivers which is perfectly suited for Lyft drivers in all three modes of delivery. Lyft’s liability insurance covers third-party personal injuries when the driver is not actively transporting or driving to pick up a passenger only up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.

Contingent Insurance Coverage

Lyft offers contingent comprehensive coverage for their drivers who have their own comprehensive collision insurance coverage, but this “contingent” coverage only pays for Lyft drivers’ vehicles and passengers’ personal property beyond a $2,500 deductible. If a passenger damages the driver’s vehicle, Lyft contacts the passenger and deducts the amount of the damage from the passenger’s bank account or credit card.

Lyft Driver Not At-fault

When the Lyft driver is not at fault, the passengers’ personal injury damages may have to be recovered from the third-party who caused the accident. If Lyft insurance covered the passengers’ injuries and property damage, a personal injury attorney can still bring a third-party lawsuit against the hit and run driver in this case who caused the accident.

Wrongful Death

Unless the driver is extremely reckless, driving at an excessive speed, intoxicated, or extremely belligerent, the driver will not face criminal charges for endangering the passengers or for the passenger’s accidental death. The deceased’s next of kin will have to file a third-party lawsuit against those who contributed to his wrongful death on behalf of the deceased’s entire estate. The wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for their loved one’s:

The administrator of the deceased’s estate, the plaintiff in the third-party wrongful death lawsuit, will seek compensation for the deceased’s burial expenses and the lost wages the deceased probably would have earned if they had lived to retirement age. It will also seek to compensate the deceased’s spouse or next of kin for the loss of their companionship, and to compensate the deceased’s children for the loss of parental guidance and involvement.

Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a traffic accident due to a Lyft driver’s negligence, our accident attorneys are professionals you can trust to help you through this emotionally difficult time.

You will need our lawyers to look for all forms of negligence that may have contributed to the accident and to prove third-party liability for you or your loved one’s injuries. For example, if the inspection and maintenance receipts on the Lyft driver’s vehicle involved in the accident are not current, faulty equipment may have contributed to the accident.

You need time to grieve and recuperate from your injuries. You may have to adjust to permanent disability. Our personal injury law firm has a strong record of achieving swift accident settlements as soon as possible after an accident, and our legal team is passionate about securing the financial compensation you deserve, including:

  • Surgical expenses.
  • Hospital costs.
  • Doctor bills.
  • Physical therapy.

An injured Lyft passenger or the estate of a deceased passenger needs personal injury attorneys to represent them to recover the full compensation they need from insurance companies that will try to minimize a claim.

Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers

Call or contact us for a free consultation if you or your loved one was injured or killed in a Lyft accident in California. Complete our free online case evaluation form, and one of our personal injury attorneys will respond to you within 24 hours to schedule an appointment in our San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, or Oakland office. Our lawyer can meet with you in the hospital if necessary. Our attorneys are licensed members of the San Francisco Bar Association, the California and Hawaii State Bar Associations, and the American Association for Justice.