If you have been involved in an accident involving a Lyft driver, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.
Lyft is available in Spokane, Spokane Valley, and every major city in the State of Washington. Like Uber, it’s a transportation network company that operates on a mobile app in over 300 cities in the United States. Nearby passengers who have downloaded Lyft’s mobile app can get a ride to where they want to go from a driver nearby. When that ride is confirmed, the passenger is sent photos of the driver and his or her vehicle. They need only look for the large pink mustache hooked onto the grille of the car picking them up. Four minutes is the average waiting time for a Lyft ride. Lyft’s success has been incredible. Launched in 2012, it’s worth over $7 billion in April of 2017. What Lyft also brought with it were legal obstacles for an innocent passenger, motorist, bicyclist or pedestrian who was injured in a motor vehicle crash involving the carelessness and negligence of a Lyft driver. Washington’s legislature has now addressed some of those.
Employees or independent contractors?
The first hurdle to overcome in claiming against Lyft is that of the legal relationship between Lyft and its drivers. Lyft is on reasonably solid legal ground in designating its drivers as independent contractors as opposed to Lyft employees. If you were in an accident caused by a Lyft driver, and you sued Lyft as a result of an accident, you might expect to see its lawyers waving a written independent contractor agreement in front of a judge or a jury. The duties and obligations of Lyft and its driver all depend on whether that driver was in route to picking up a Lyft passenger or actually transporting a Lyft passenger at the time the accident occurred.
The new legislation
For purposes of convenience, lawyers and legislatures have labeled Lyft a rideshare company. A Lyft driver must carry his or her own liability insurance. Policy limits for bodily injury are allowed to be as low as $50,000 per person and $100,000 per occurrence, but that’s not much, and a personal liability policy isn’t going to cover a Lyft driver when he or she is involved in a commercial endeavor. What came to issue was that passengers were getting injured in accidents involving ride sharing vehicles, and there was no insurance coverage to compensate them because of commercial exclusions on personal auto policies. Now Washington has enacted legislation that requires all ridesharing companies doing business in the state to carry mandatory commercial auto liability insurance in the minimum amount of $1 million. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in the same amounts are also required.
A Lyft driver notifies the company of his or her availability to transport passengers by logging into the company’s ridesharing network. Under the new legislation, the driver’s own commercial coverage must start when the driver logs into the system, including when the driver is merely waiting for passengers. As soon as the driver has accepted a passenger, his or her insurance coverage increases to $1 million. This includes when the driver is in route to pick up the passenger until such time as the passenger gets out of the vehicle.
In the event of an accident, Lyft is required to cooperate with any investigations in connection with the occurrence. It’s also required to maintain records of all data and communications regarding an accident for 14 months after the occurrence.
When injuries are caused by another driver
If you were a passenger in a Lyft vehicle, and you were injured as a result of the negligence of another driver, you can make your claim with that driver’s liability insurer. If the other driver was underinsured or uninsured, you can make an underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance claim with Lyft or the other driver’s insurance company. Depending on the terms and conditions of your policy, you might even be able to make that claim with your own auto insurer.
I was injured by a Lyft driver, but I wasn’t a Lyft passenger
In this scenario we revert back to the original rule. If the driver wasn’t logged into the system, or the driver was logged in but not in route to pick up a passenger or transporting a passenger, your claim is directly against the driver up to his or her policy limits. If the driver was in route for a pickup or transporting a Lyft passenger, a claim can be made against the mandatory minimum $1 million insurance policy.
Contact a Spokane Area Car Accident Lawyer
Any number of scenarios could arise with a Lyft driver in the State of Washington when you might need an experienced Spokane Car Accident Lawyer. The legislature didn’t resolve all of the possible legal issues. Some fuzzy areas still exist. Those are for the courts to decide. If you were injured in an accident involving a Lyft vehicle, you can contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation. You don’t need a penny up front to retain us to represent you either. That’s because no legal fees are payable until such time as we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.