What Happens If Your Lyft Gets in an Accident?
Who will pay for a passenger's catastrophic injuries or death?
Shane Holland and his friend were riding in a Lyft in heavy rain on Interstate 80 near Sacramento when the vehicle suddenly veered onto the right shoulder and hit a tree. Holland, age 24, was killed instantly and became the first known person to die as a ridesharing passenger.
Lyft driver Shanti Adhikari, age 31, said he’d been behind a car that was struck by a hit-and-run driver and he tried to escape the collision by quickly moving to the right shoulder. However, his car hit a tree, then spun into a second tree.
The police investigated the complex crash that led to Holland’s death. At the time, 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.”
What would happen if your Lyft was in an accident like this? What if you were a passenger and were severely injured? Read on to learn more about Lyft accidents in California.
How Liability and Insurance Work in a Lyft Accident
Liability depends on who caused the Lyft accident and which period the Lyft driver was in when the accident occurred, which we’ll explain in more detail below. A $1 million liability insurance policy pays when Lyft drivers are negligent, but in the Sacramento Lyft accident described above, the Lyft driver didn’t cause the accident.
California is a fault or tort state when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. That means it’s crucial to determine who is at fault for the accident. As you can imagine, insurance companies that represent Lyft drivers have a financial motive to avoid the blame.
This means injured people often get the runaround when asking to be compensated for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of time from work, and even serious permanent damages to their bodies. Most folks don’t want to be battling insurance companies while they’re attempting to rehab from their injuries, so they contact a skilled Lyft accident attorney.
Insurance plays a huge role in these accident claims. Whether you’re a driver, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian involved in a Lyft accident, it may be vital to get insurance involved - but it may also be a huge hassle. You can’t necessarily rely on any particular party to pay up in injury cases.
Personal auto insurance policies usually decline coverage if the Lyft vehicle is being used “for hire” or if the driver is benefiting commercially from the ride, so that avenue may not be available. However, as an injured person, you do have other options.
California law requires rideshare companies like Lyft to hold insurance policies in case someone is injured in an accident. Lyft insurance provides three main options for coverage:
Whether or not one of these companies will agree to pay for your accident may depend on which period the driver was in when the crash occurred. Here’s what the California Public Utilities Commission requires of Lyft and other rideshare companies:
Period 0: The driver is not actively working for Lyft, so their personal insurance coverage may apply but the rideshare company insurance would not.
Period 1: The app is open and the driver is waiting for a match.
Lyft should provide primary insurance of at least $50,000 for death and personal injury per person, $100,000 for death and personal injury per incident, and $30,000 for property damage, plus $200,000 in excess coverage. Lyft may satisfy these requirements through insurance maintained by the driver, Lyft-provided insurance for coverage if a driver does not maintain the required liability coverage, or a combination of these.
Period 2: A match has been accepted, but the passenger is not yet picked up.
Lyft must provide primary commercial insurance valued at $1 million dollars. Lyft may satisfy these requirements through insurance maintained by the driver, Lyft-provided insurance for coverage if a driver does not maintain the required coverage, or a combination of these.
Period 3: Passenger in the vehicle and until the passenger exits the vehicle.
In addition to stipulations from Period 2, Lyft must also provide uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $1 million dollars from the moment a passenger enters the vehicle until the passenger exits the vehicle. The policy may also provide this coverage during any other period if requested by a participating driver relative to insurance maintained by the driver.
It’s important to note that although employers are legally responsible for their employees' negligent driving, Lyft does not directly employ its drivers. And while their drivers must pass background checks, Lyft does not own or maintain its drivers' motor vehicles or require any type of licensing, like a commercial driver’s license.
What to Do After a Lyft Accident
Lyft urges 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 handled through claims adjusters who ask seemingly-normal questions that back you into a corner.
For example, in the fatal Lyft accident described above, the adjuster might ask, "Did your driver do their best to get you where you wanted to go?" Then they might ask, “Why did you choose to go out in the pouring rain?” Beware, because your answers could come back to haunt you!
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. Anything you say might limit their liability for the accident or reduce the amount of compensation you'll be able to recover.
Can You Win Compensation When the Lyft Driver is Not at Fault?
Yes, you can seek compensation even if the Lyft driver didn’t cause the accident. There are several avenues you may be able to take, so ask your Lyft lawyer about your options.
When the Lyft driver is not found to be 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 who caused the accident.
What about wrongful death? Unless the driver is extremely reckless, driving at an excessive speed, intoxicated, or extremely belligerent, the driver will probably 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 the 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.
New Developments With Lyft in California
Rideshare companies like Lyft have repeatedly come under fire for the way they handle car accidents on California roads. A recent report found that some of these companies may be misleading the public about rideshare accidents because they want you to think their services are safe.
You may have heard about a huge change in how the state of California views rideshare drivers. You should know that California law regarding rideshare services is constantly evolving. Lawmakers are scrambling to update the law. Learn the latest here.
What About Distracted and Drunk Lyft Drivers?
The people of California are also dealing with the dangers of distracted rideshare drivers and drunk rideshare drivers. If you suspect your Lyft driver was distracted, high, or drunk, avoid making allegations against them or getting into an argument with them about it.
Instead, contact the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We can launch an investigation into what the Lyft driver was doing before the accident and gather meaningful evidence before it’s lost or destroyed.
It’s up to the local prosecuting attorney and police to decide whether the Lyft driver will be charged with a crime. Either way, you can take civil action with the help of a Lyft accident lawyer.
Are There Driverless Lyfts?
Although Uber gets the most media attention for its self-driving vehicles, Lyft is developing driverless cars too. You could soon see them on the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other cities.
Driverless rideshare vehicles are controversial because they have already been involved in several high-profile wrecks that involved death and severe injuries. So far, no rideshare company is offering truly “driverless” vehicles and all rely on human backup pilots - however, these pilots sometimes fail to pay attention and allow accidents to happen.
After a crash with an autonomous car, you can sue for compensation. This is a new and evolving aspect of the law, so make sure you choose an experienced Lyft accident attorney who is thoroughly familiar with the issues involved in a case with a self-driving Lyft.
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.
Experience a serious Lyft accident?
Visit our Lyft Accident Page to learn more about how the personal injury process works.
You Need a Personal Injury Attorney After Your Lyft Accident
After a serious injury 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 period. You need time to grieve and recuperate from your injuries. You may have to adjust to permanent disabilities.
Our lawyers look for all forms of negligence that may have contributed to the accident. 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.
Our personal injury law firm has a strong record of achieving swift accident settlements as soon as possible after a Lyft accident, and our legal team is passionate about securing the financial compensation you deserve, including:
- Surgical expenses
- Hospital costs
- Doctor bills
- Physical therapy
- Psychological therapy
- Vehicle repairs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
An injured Lyft passenger - or the estate of a deceased passenger - can seek the expertise of a personal injury attorney to recover full compensation from insurance companies that will try to minimize a claim. Don’t let them back you down!
You can turn to Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers for help during this challenging time. We offer an initial free consultation. We are rideshare accident experts and we love to help California people!