If you were injured in a Lyft accident in the Tampa area, you may already know that rideshare accidents add layers of complexity to the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries. When you seek compensation, the driver may point to Lyft, Lyft may point to the driver, or both may point to your own PIP insurance—which in turn may try to send you back to Lyft or the driver to recover your damages.
That’s why you need the experienced Tampa Lyft Accident Lawyers at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman. We understand the process of fighting for your insurance benefits after rideshare accidents injure you. We have the results to prove it. And we’re ready to help you.
Started in 2012, Lyft is a ridesharing service that matches riders with drivers, who apply with Lyft to become independent contractors and are matched with riders through the Lyft smartphone app. As reported by Seeking Alpha, Lyft offers a simpler business model than its chief competitor, Uber, gaining most of its revenue through automobile rideshares in the United States and Canada. Because they’re considered independent contractors, Lyft drivers are not provided with a set wage or benefits. They work when they want, and the company says that most drivers work less than 20 hours a week.
Lyft services are currently available in 300 metropolitan areas across the United States and Canada, and they’re the second largest rideshare company on the continent, commanding a 22 percent share of a market in which more than four billion rides were provided through rideshare companies in one recent year. Even though they are ever growing in popularity sometimes finding someone with the expertise to take on a lyft accident can be troublesome. The rideshare attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have extensive experience handling similar cases and are committed to finding you compensation.
How Common Are Lyft Accidents?
Ridesharing has often been hailed as a safe form of transport. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago and Rice University, however, traffic deaths have increased 2 to 3 percent since the rise of rideshare services provided by companies such as Lyft and Uber. One of the reasons given for this increase is the traffic congestion created by “deadheading” drivers—that is, rideshare drivers who have their apps on and are driving around town, waiting for a ride. Congestion has further increased as more public transport options are displaced by the ability of consumers to order a ride from a rideshare app.
News articles about accidents involving their drivers offer anecdotes, but statistics on how many rideshare trips end in accidents are hard to come by. According to a recent USA Today investigation, the companies have successfully quieted so-called dark information about injury accidents and sexual assaults occurring during rides through lobbying efforts and protective orders.
News sources, however, are rife with examples of bad crashes. In one case, a Tampa Bay-area Lyft driver was back on the road just one month after having a serious accident that injured his passenger and left people questioning whether he had insurance at the time of the accident. The accident occurred when a van rear-ended the Lyft car and then fled the scene. The passenger incurred ongoing medical costs to treat the severe injuries he suffered in the accident.
However, news stations were alerted in February that the Lyft driver—who the passenger’s attorney claims had no insurance—was back on the road, accepting rides. Lyft requires that its drivers obtain their own insurance that meets state requirements for drivers. In addition, the rideshare company also provides coverage for drivers and passengers during a ride.
A spokesperson for Lyft stated that, following serious accidents, it is company policy to deactivate the driver’s account while the company investigates the details of the case. Once the investigation is complete, if the company has not uncovered any information that would indicate a driver violation to company policies, the driver’s account is reactivated and the driver can begin accepting rides once more. The spokesperson added that its insurance carrier was working on the case.
How Does Lyft Protect Its Drivers and Passengers During Accidents?
Lyft states that it provides up to $1 million worth of insurance in the event of an accident, provided certain conditions are met. Here is how their insurance policy works, as explained on their website.
- If the driver’s app is turned off and he or she is involved in an accident while using his or her vehicle for personal reasons, his or her own insurance policy is responsible for covering damages.
- If the driver’s app is in driver mode but he or she has not accepted a ride, the driver’s personal insurance policy should provide primary coverage. However, in cases where the personal insurance carrier does not respond to the claim, Lyft may provide up to $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident and up to $25,000 for property damage. No deductible is required to access this coverage.
- If the driver has accepted a ride, and is either en route to pick up the passenger or is transporting the passenger, Lyft’s $1 million liability insurance policy kicks in. This coverage is designed to be provided in excess to the driver’s personal insurance provided the driver has commercial insurance or personal insurance specifically for ridesharing.
Lyft’s policies require that drivers undergo these steps in the application process, which vary according to state:
- An inspection of the vehicle to be used for driving to ensure that it is not too old or in poor repair. In Florida, the vehicle must be a 2008 model or newer. The vehicle must have working seat belts and at least 4 doors to be accepted.
- Drivers must have a valid driver’s license and be able to pass a driver screening that includes a driving history and criminal background check. Drivers in most locations in Florida must be at least 25 years old to drive, except in Tallahassee, where the minimum age to drive a rideshare is 21.
- Driver applicants must show proof of vehicle registration and personal insurance.
- Drivers must display the Lyft emblem on their windshield while the app is in driver mode.
- Lyft drivers in Florida are also required to take a full, uninterrupted 6-hour break for every 12 consecutive hours that the app is in driver mode.
Lyft drivers in Florida have the option of also being accepted to drive in Alabama, provided they undergo a vehicle inspection by an ASE or ATTI certified mechanic. Additionally, drivers moving to Florida from another state may switch their residence with the company by sending Lyft a message that contains a photo of vehicle registration and insurance, if it has not been submitted already, the date of the relocation, and the new shipping address.
In December 2019, Lyft partnered with RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in North America, to train drivers on how to handle challenging passengers and keep the ride safe and comfortable for everyone. All drivers are required to complete this training.
Is Lyft Ever Liable for an Accident Involving One of Its Drivers?
Lyft’s historical argument is that the drivers who apply and are accepted to accept rides through its platform are independent contractors. As such, not only does Lyft save money on paying drivers at least minimum wage and covering job expenses, including the cost of fuel, but it also has avoided much of the liability for injuries to passengers that are caused by Lyft drivers and are over and beyond the limits of the insurance policy provided by the company.
That may soon change—one state at a time—as California recently passed a law aimed at making it harder for rideshare and other gig economy companies to classify their workers as independent contractors instead of employees. Lyft and Uber are currently leading a ballot initiative to shield digital platform companies from being subject to this law and are reportedly gearing up to do the same in New York, where about 8,000 Lyft riders filed a class action lawsuit. Riders in that state were recently encouraged to reject a settlement offer made by Lyft that would have provided $100 to $600 to each driver for the misclassification of the drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. However, the deal would also require that the drivers do not disclose details of the settlement.
If Lyft drivers are, in fact, employees instead of independent contractors, then the company faces greater liability for the actions of the drivers, who would be legally serving as representatives of the company when driving. A lawsuit initially filed against the company by one driver was withdrawn after Lyft argued that its drivers, upon acceptance into the system, agree to air their grievances individually through arbitration, thus avoiding class actions.
How Does Lyft’s Insurance Work in a No-Fault Insurance State?
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to automobile insurance. This means that every driver who registers a vehicle in the state is required to provide proof of personal injury protection (PIP) with a minimum limit of $10,000. This coverage will pay for up to 80 percent of necessary medical expenses, as well as wage benefits if the individual is too injured to work or is required to miss work to attend medical appointments related to their accident injury.
Coverage applies regardless of who is at fault in the accident. Riders who have this insurance may be able to access this coverage even though the accident did not involve their own vehicle, or may be able to access coverage through a family member’s PIP policy, provided the holder of the policy resides in the same household.
If you do not have a PIP policy and you’re injured in an accident while riding as a Lyft passenger, the driver’s PIP will not cover your injuries, as PIP coverage is not available to rideshare passengers. Likewise, Lyft itself does not provide personal injury protection coverage. However, the company’s policy does provide bodily injury and uninsured motorist coverage, either of which may be used to compensate you for your injuries.
If you were a driver or passenger in a non-Lyft vehicle who was injured in an accident with an at-fault Lyft driver who did not have his or her app in driver mode, then the driver’s personal insurance may be an available resource. If the driver has his or her app in driver mode but is not en route to a passenger pick up and is not transporting a passenger, the driver’s personal insurance as well as a limited coverage policy provided by Lyft may be in play. If the Lyft driver was transporting a passenger at the time he or she caused an accident with you, then Lyft’s full $1 million policy may be available.
Even if you do have your own PIP policy, if you max out the limits of that policy or your injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold, you may still be able to file a claim for compensation from either the driver’s personal insurance policy or Lyft’s policy.
The serious injury threshold includes:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury, within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement
Meeting the serious injury threshold allows you not only to file a third-party claim for medical expenses and wage loss, but also allows for claims that include non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
If You Were Injured in a Tampa Lyft Accident, Call Us Today
Rideshare companies are making transportation easier for riders here in Tampa and across the nation. However, as you can see, accidents involving rideshare drivers can quickly grow complex when it comes time to sort out who will compensate you for your injuries.
Let us help you make sense of the process. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can write to us using our online contact page for a free case evaluation.