Deadly Lyft Accident
Ridesharing services have enjoyed rising popularity for years, overtaking the taxi industry and becoming a main means of transportation for many individuals. Rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber offer an incredibly easy way of securing a ride from any location to any local destination within minutes at the simple tap of a smartphone. Data from 2021 indicates the rising popularity of Lyft —a rideshare company that quickly followed in Uber’s footsteps —with more than 12 million users per quarter.
With the steady rise of Lyft rideshares also comes the rise of accidents involving Lyft vehicles. As of March of this year, there’s been a 3% rise in traffic fatalities directly linked to rideshare services with the most significant increases in metropolitan areas. In an area like Florida, a Miami rideshare accident attorney can help litigate your Lyft accident claim.
Lyft Accidents Increase Since The First Fatality in 2014
The Lyft rideshare service began in June 2012, soon changing its name from Zimride to Lyft, and reported its first traffic fatality two years later in West Sacramento in November of 2014. According to accident reports, a Toyota Camry in service as a Lyft rideshare vehicle swerved at the last moment to avoid a stopped vehicle in the road ahead, hitting a tree off the shoulder of the road. While the rideshare driver and another passenger survived the collision with moderate injuries, first responders reported the third passenger, 24-year-old Shane Holland, dead at the scene. Investigations revealed that the Lyft driver had been driving excessively fast for the poor road conditions at the time, with rainy weather and the 1:30 AM darkness affecting visibility.
A spokesperson for Lyft acknowledged the death as the first fatality related to the rideshare app and confirmed that the company’s $1-million dollar liability policy offers protection for drivers, passengers, and other involved parties. Since then, Lyft’s safety reports reveal a further 105 fatalities in crashes involving Lyft vehicles between 2017 and 2019 and 4,000 assaults during Lyft rides in the same period.
Understanding Liability in a Rideshare Accident
Complex liability issues often arise after an accident involving a Lyft vehicle. While a Lyft driver may face liability if they were at fault just as any other driver would in a case of negligent or reckless driving, the Lyft rideshare company itself adds a third entity into the legal mix. Although victims injured in accidents involving commercial vehicles such as large box trucks have the legal option to pursue claims against the employer of an at-fault driver, rideshare companies like Lyft don’t function as employers of their drivers. Instead, drivers contract with Lyft which operates only as a marketplace for connecting Lyft rideshare drivers and their customers.
Though the contractor status of Lyft drivers complicates accident claims, the company’s policy of maintaining liability coverage for their drivers offers coverage beyond that of typical drivers. Like Uber, Lyft policies offer up to $1 million dollars in liability coverage so injured passengers, other involved accident victims, or surviving family members can file claims against Lyft’s liability insurance. While this sounds simple, the claim process against Lyft becomes further complicated by the company’s policy of classifying a driver’s status in three different ways:
- The driver wasn’t transporting a passenger when an accident occurs or using the rideshare app, but instead was driving in a personal capacity so coverage falls under their personal insurance policy
- The driver was actively seeking a customer and their app was active during the accident so victims may be entitled to up to $50,000 per injured person and $100,000 per accident as well as up to $25,000 for property damage
- The driver was transporting a customer during the accident, allowing up to $1 million in liability for both injured passengers in the Lyft vehicle and those in other vehicles involved in an accident with a Lyft driver found to be at fault
A Lyft accident lawyer experienced in rideshare cases can help victims untangle the complex liability issues involved in their own claims if they’ve been injured in an accident involving a Lyft vehicle.