In Bradenton and across the U.S., more and more individuals are meeting their transportation needs by using rideshare companies like Lyft that can match them with drivers willing to take them to their locations for less than what they would pay for a traditional taxicab. In fact, the use of ridesharing has increased so much in recent years that the market value of the industry is expected to reach $220 billion by 2025.
Proponents of ridesharing praise its benefits, such as reducing the amount of traffic congestion, providing necessary transportation for those who have been drinking or otherwise cannot drive, and offering more affordable pricing for transportation services. However, Lyft and other ridesharing companies are not without their downside.
Despite the notion that ridesharing would become modern-day carpooling and result in less congestion on the roadways, a study from MIT revealed that traffic accident deaths have actually increased around 2 to 3 percent since the industry's rise.
Researchers noted that much of this increase can be attributed to “deadheading,” which is a term used to describe rideshare drivers who drive between predicted hotspots with their app on, waiting for someone to need a ride. Rideshare drivers may spend up to 60 percent of their time on the job deadheading.
If you've been injured in a Lyft accident, read on for more information about how to recover damages related to your injury as well as what makes Lyft accident cases so complex. For answers to questions you have about your specific case as well as more information on the legal process of pursuing compensation, contact the Bradenton Lyft accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group for a free case evaluation.
What Is Lyft?
Lyft is a platform that matches individuals who need a ride with screened drivers who work as independent contractors through a mobile app. The app not only provides a means for passengers to schedule and pay for the ride, but also to leave a review for their driver or to report an issue with the transportation service they received from a Lyft driver. For the drivers, the app sends notifications of paid rides that are available, allows drivers to forward their earnings to their personal bank account, and also provides a process where drivers can post reviews of passengers as well.
The founders of Lyft launched the platform in 2012, as part of Zimride, the inter-city carpooling business that they started in 2007. The idea was born out of a visit that one of the founders took to see his girlfriend when he was attending college in another city. He had hoped to keep the trip affordable by using Craigslist message boards to find individuals heading the same way who wanted to share the expenses of the ride.
However, he noticed discomfort from both the driver and the passenger as to taking a trip with a total stranger. The company was renamed Lyft in 2013 and has grown to be the second most-used rideshare platform in the U.S., coming behind only Uber in volume.
What Are the Requirements for Lyft Drivers and Their Vehicles?
Lyft has several requirements for individuals who wish to be drivers, and these requirements vary slightly among regions to meet the compliance of state laws.
In Florida, Lyft drivers must:
- Have a valid driver's license. Lyft will accept temporary licenses as well as those from other states.
- Be at least 25 years old.
- Pass a driver screening in which the company reviews your driving record as well as conducting a criminal background check.
- Have a smartphone that is capable of downloading and running the Lyft driver app.
To drive for Lyft, interested individuals must also upload personal documentation through the app, including:
- A current driver profile photo that riders can use to identify their driver upon pickup.
- Vehicle registration.
- Current vehicle insurance that meets the state's requirement. Drivers in Florida must purchase an insurance policy that provides at least $10,000 in personal injury protection, and $10,000 property damage liability coverage.
Additionally, inspections must ensure that prospective drivers meet these requirements:
- Four doors and five to eight seats, including the driver's seat.
- The vehicle cannot be on the company's list of prohibited sub-compact vehicles. This list includes the Chevrolet Aveo, Aveo5, Metro, Sonic, or Volt; Daewoo's Lanos; Ford's Fiesta; the Hyundai Accent; the Kia Rio, Rio 5-door; Rio Cinco, and Rio5; the Mazda 2; Mini Coopers, including the Clubman, Countryman, Countryman Hybrid, Hardtop, S, S Countryman Hybrid, and others; the Pontiac G3; and the Scion xD. It should be noted that drivers who were approved to drive the above-listed vehicles before February 2019, can continue to use those vehicles to transport Lyft passengers.
- The vehicle cannot be a taxi or a stretch limousine.
- The vehicle cannot be titled as salvage, non-repairable, rebuilt, or any similar classification.
Liability in Bradenton Lyft Accidents
If the accident occurred due to an issue with the car that inspections should have flagged or because the company failed to notice something amiss during the review of the driver's criminal or driving record, Lyft can be found liable.
If Lyft isn't liable alone for your accident, then who else might be?
The answer to that question depends on:
- If you were in an accident that was caused when another motorist struck the Lyft vehicle, potential sources of liability can include the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident; the Lyft driver if his or her actions also contributed to the accident; other motorists on the roadway; governmental agencies responsible for maintaining the roadway, if the accident was a result of road damage, views obstructed by vegetation, debris on the road, or other roadway maintenance issues; or even the maker or distributor of defective vehicle parts if the accident was caused by a vehicle defect.
- If you were in an accident that was caused when your Lyft driver struck another vehicle, your driver is likely the source of liability. However, other motorists, road maintenance agencies, and auto parts makers can also bear liability for the accident that caused your injuries as well, depending on the facts of your case.
One of the important services that your experienced Lyft accident attorney will provide for you is the determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed to provide you compensation.
How Lyft's Insurance Coverage Works
The tiered coverage is based on the driver's activity, and works as follows:
- If the accident occurred when the Lyft driver's app is off, the driver's personal auto insurance is in effect.
- If the app is on and the driver is waiting for a ride request when the accident occurred, Lyft provides third-party liability insurance of $50,000 per person for bodily injury; $100,000 per accident for bodily injury; and $25,000 per accident for property damage.
- If the accident occurred when the driver was en route to pick up a passenger or while he or she was transporting a passenger, the third-party liability coverage that Lyft provides includes $1,000,000 auto liability as well as uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage.
Lyft considers the driver's personal automobile policy to be the primary insurance resource. This means that Lyft coverage may only be available if the driver's personal insurance policy does not cover the accident or limits out.
Recovering Compensation After a Bradenton Lyft Accident
If you have been injured in a Bradenton Lyft accident and you own a car that is registered in Florida or someone in your household does, the first source for compensation will likely be your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. This policy will provide, up to the policy limit (generally $10,000), 80 percent of your medical expenses as well as a portion of lost wages if you had to miss work because of your injury, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Your driver is also required to have a PIP policy in his or her personal insurance coverage that should—in theory—provide coverage for passengers in his or her car, However, it is not uncommon for a personal insurance carrier to refuse to pay claims resulting from an injury that occurred while the insured was transporting a passenger for a fee unless they've been informed that their insured was using their personal vehicle to provide rideshare services and have adjusted the insured's policy to reflect that.
If you have limited out your own policy or your injury meets the serious injury threshold, you will be permitted to file a Lyft accident injury lawsuit to pursue compensation from the at-fault party and—if your Lyft driver was responsible for the accident—access coverage from Lyft's insurance policy.
The serious injury threshold in Florida includes injuries that:
- Result in a significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Are permanent, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
- Produce significant scarring or disfigurement.
- Result in death.
The time limit for filing your Lyft accident lawsuit is four years after the date on which the accident occurred. For a successful outcome in your case, you must prove that someone else was liable for the accident that caused your injuries and show the cost of the expenses and impacts that your injuries have had on your life.
Because there are so many complex factors in this type of accident, having an experienced Lyft accident attorney on your side is essential. Your personal injury attorney can discuss your legal options and provide other valuable services to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bradenton Lyft Accidents
How do I determine who was liable for my Bradenton Lyft accident?
One of the services an experienced Lyft accident attorney will provide for you is assistance in determining all sources of liability in your accident.
To prove that someone is liable, you must show:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care that was owed to you depends on the party's role in the accident and involves actions that a reasonable person would take in similar circumstances. For example, your Lyft driver owed a duty of care to you and other motorists to drive their vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that were contrary to the duty of care that was owed to you.
- The breach resulted in an accident that caused your injuries and subsequent expenses and impacts.
The driver who caused an accident with the Lyft vehicle I was riding in was uninsured. Can I file a claim?
Yes. One of the coverages provided by Lyft when the driver's app is on and he or she is transporting a passenger is uninsured/ underinsured coverage. This coverage is available if your driver does not have uninsured/ underinsured coverage on his or her policy or if his or her insurer refuses to pay.
What damages can I recover through a Bradenton Lyft accident lawsuit?
Florida allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. The term “damage” in Lyft accident injury cases is defined as a payment made for harm done. Economic damages refer to a payment that is made to compensate an injured person for the out-of-pocket expenses that he or she incurred as a result of an injury.
Some expenses commonly included in economic damage claims are:
- Medical treatment, including emergency treatment at the scene or in the emergency department, ambulance or air transport to the hospital, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, physician and surgical services, prescription medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- The cost of assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, or prosthetics as well as modifications made to the home to accommodate the injury, such as lowered cabinets, roll-in showers, and ramps.
- Lost wages if you are too injured to work or you have been required to miss work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury causes a permanent disability that renders you unable to work or to earn in the same capacity as you did before the accident.
- The cost of repairing or replacing your personal property that was damaged in the accident.
Non-economic damages refer to a payment that is made to compensate an injured person for the quality-of-life impacts he or she has experienced as a result of the injury.
Some common examples of impacts that are included in non-economic damage claims are:
- Physical pain and suffering as a result of the injury itself or the medical treatment provided for the injury.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if the injury you suffered prevented your participation in activities you enjoyed before the accident.
- Loss of consortium, which is a damage claimed on behalf of the injured person's spouse for loss of physical intimacy or companionship due to the seriousness of the injury.
How is the value of my Bradenton Lyft accident case established?
Another service your Lyft accident attorney can perform for you is establishing a value to your case. This is damages you will demand from the at-fault party.
A case's value is generally determined by:
- Economic damages: The out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred are added together.
- Non-economic damages: The total economic damage amount is then calculated. The more severe your injuries, the more you might recover.
- The total economic damages and non-economic damages are then added together to make up your case's value.
What are the most important factors that can affect the value of my Bradenton Lyft accident case?
Several factors can affect the value of your case, including:
- The amount of insurance the at-fault party has. Insurance pays most Lyft accident injury compensation. While it is possible to sue an uninsured person and even obtain a judgment in your favor, it will be very difficult to collect your award as most individuals can't pay for someone else's injury expenses out-of-pocket. This is actually not as much of a factor in many Lyft accident cases as it is in other types of motor vehicle accidents, as the Lyft policy provides another resource for compensation.
- The severity of your injuries. More severe injuries often result in an increase in many of the damage categories, including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
- Your age at the time of the accident. Age is important mostly for the sake of where you are in your career. A person who is at the peak of their career will likely see higher values in damage categories such as lost wages and earning capacity than a young person who has not climbed very high up the income ladder or a retired person who is no longer earning an income.
- Your overall health at the time of the accident. If you have pre-existing conditions, the at-fault party's insurance provider will likely argue that your pain and suffering is a result of these injuries rather than the actions of their insured. While your attorney is prepared for this argument, it can make for some sticking points in settlement negotiations.
- Your level of patience. You are likely to be offered a settlement rather quickly in the legal process. However, obtaining a settlement offer that fairly reflects the value of your case will often take much longer. In fact, many settlements are not offered until just before trial is to begin on the matter or even after the trial has begun but before a judgment is rendered.
I got into an accident with a Lyft car in Bradenton and I was partially responsible. Does that mean I can't file a claim?
You can still file a claim against other at-fault parties. However, your settlement or award will be reduced to reflect the percentage of responsibility for the accident that you bear.
My wife died in an accident while she was a Bradenton Lyft passenger. Can I file a claim?
The process for recovering damages after a Lyft accident death is a wrongful death lawsuit. Like a Lyft accident injury claim, wrongful death lawsuits are legal claims filed in civil court. The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Florida is two years from the date of the death.
Florida law required wrongful death lawsuits to be filed by a personal representative—either named by the deceased in the will or appointed by the court—on behalf of the deceased's surviving family members. The family members who can benefit from a wrongful death claim include the deceased's spouse, children, parents, or any other blood relative or adoptive sibling who was partially or wholly dependent on the deceased for support and services.
The damages you may recover through this type of claim include:
- The value of support and services that were provided by the deceased to his or her family members.
- Loss of protection, companionship, and guidance that were provided by the deceased.
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering resulting from the loss of a child.
- Medical expenses for the treatment of the deceased's final injury.
- The cost of funeral services, as well as burial or cremation, was paid for by a family member.
In addition to compensating the family members, the deceased's estate can also pursue damages, such as:
- Medical and funeral expenses paid directly by the estate.
- Lost wages, benefits, and the value of lost earnings that the deceased would have reasonably been expected to earn if he or she had survived.
- Loss of prospective net accumulations to the estate that would have been expected had the deceased lived.
Will I have to pay taxes on my Bradenton Lyft accident settlement or award?
According to the Internal Revenue Service, settlement or award money received for the expenses and impacts that were caused to you by accident injuries is not considered income and is not taxable. Punitive damages, however, can be taxed as this type of damage is awarded not based on the expenses and impacts that the claimant incurred but rather to punish the defendant for particularly reckless behavior. If you received punitive damages, you will have to claim that portion of your award as income.
It should also be noted that if you claimed your medical expenses from your accident as an itemized deduction on your taxes and then later received an award that included medical expenses, you will need to repay the amount of your deduction.
I can't afford a Bradenton Lyft accident attorney. Should I file my claim on my own?
Actually, you can afford ours. And as a practical matter, you can't do it on your own.
Because of the complexity involved in this type of case and the legal knowledge that is required to understand court rules, rules of discovery, and other formalities of the legal process, having an attorney is extremely important. Fortunately, most Lyft accident injury attorneys offer two special services to ensure that anyone who needs legal assistance can obtain that assistance, regardless of their financial status.
Those services include:
- A free case evaluation: This is a time that an attorney will meet with you and provide answers to specific questions you have about your case and explain to you more about the firm, his or her philosophy on matters of law, and discuss your legal options.
- A contingent fee payment arrangement: Contingent fee payment means that you will not be charged for your attorney's services until there is a successful outcome in your case.
Your attorney can provide other crucial services to assist with your case, including:
- Guidance about the legal process of pursuing compensation through a Lyft accident injury lawsuit or other sources.
- A determination of all sources of liability in your case and all insurance resources that can be used to compensate you.
- Timely filing of all court-required documents in the proper jurisdiction.
- Skilled negotiation with the at-fault party's insurance provider in an attempt to garner a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- The collection and organization of evidence, witness testimony, and expert testimony that can be used to prove your case.
- Guidance about the pros and cons of accepting a settlement offer.
- Litigation, including delivering opening and closing arguments, examining witnesses, and presenting evidence.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
- Continued representation if the defendant in your case files an appeal.
Call Our Bradenton Lyft Accident Attorneys Today for Help With Your Case
Let the experienced Bradenton Lyft accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group help you understand your legal options. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or by contacting us online.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 613-5747
“AMAZING and understanding attorneys! Did great on my case and I highly recommend Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for anyone that has been injured in an accident!"
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