Lyft is a rideshare company that enables ordinary people to convey travelers for a fee. The company was founded in mid-2012 and currently operates in 40 states, including New York state and Washington, D.C. Lyft drivers are independent contractors, meaning that they are not employees of the Lyft company. They operate on a work-for-hire basis, and do not represent the company or have rights to any employee benefits.
Lyft Insurance Coverage
There are important things to know before you use Lyft as a transportation option. Lyft drivers are supposed to carry current collision and comprehensive liability insurance. Also, the Lyft company offers liability coverage on a part-time, contingency basis. The Lyft company insurance is also only valid if the driver also carries current collision and comprehensive liability insurance. If the claim on the personal insurance is denied, the company policy may be applicable. However, the company Lyft insurance is only payable if the other driver is at fault. In other words, if your Lyft driver causes an accident, the Lyft insurance may not apply.
Who Are Lyft Drivers?
Lyft drivers are commonly made up of people who are either working a second job for extra income, unemployable by a traditional company, college students looking to earn extra pizza money, or possibly people who are trying to stay “under the radar.” As such, what is often the case is that Lyft drivers aren’t able to afford their own car insurance. Also, they may heavily rely on Lyft income to pay necessary living expenses. Without Lyft income, many of the drivers may face eviction, power turn-offs or something else related to an inability to pay bills.
While this doesn’t define every single Lyft driver, these situations may be common. Lyft drivers aren’t professional taxi drivers. They aren’t employed by the Lyft company. While many Lyft drivers may be upstanding people who take their Lyft gig very seriously and treat it like a business, you have no way of knowing that as a passenger. When you get into a person’s vehicle for a Lyft ride, all you know is that—hopefully—the driver has a valid driver’s license and has been vetted by the Lyft company.
The Possible Negative Outcome of a Lyft Accident
The fact is, if you’re a passenger of a Lyft driver and the vehicle is involved in an accident, you have no way of knowing what will happen next. You don’t know the driver or what kind of person they are. As a passenger with someplace to get to, it may not have even occurred to you that an accident could happen. Here are some possible scenarios in the event of a Lyft accident:
The Driver Blames You
Your Lyft driver may decide that they don’t want to take the fall for an accident that was clearly their fault. When the police come to take the report, your driver may suddenly point the finger at you, claiming it was your fault somehow. They may say you distracted them, grabbed the wheel, hindered their eyesight, or took some other action that caused the accident. In a closed vehicle with no witnesses, it’s now your word against theirs.
The Driver Asks You to Disappear
Your driver might not want the police or the other driver to know you were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. They may ask you to “disappear,” instruct you to just “walk away,” or take other action that keeps others from knowing you were a passenger. Now you’re on the street with possible injuries, with no transportation.
The Driver Tells You to Pretend You’re Friends
The Lyft driver may instruct you to keep quiet about being a Lyft passenger; instead, you’re told to pretend you’re friends with the driver and just happened to be along for the ride.
The Driver May Try to Intimidate You Into Silence
Your driver may threaten you if you say anything to the police. They may use verbal or physical intimidation to keep you silent.
The Driver May Try to Bribe You
The driver may offer to compensate you in exchange for certain actions. They may promise you money or actually give you money if you say certain things to the police, or if you promise to say nothing at all to the police.
Other Possible Scenarios
Now, not all Lyft drivers would place you in these situations in the event of an accident. Many Lyft drivers are honest and forthright, and they will encourage you to give an honest account of the accident to the authorities. But even if this occurs, your legal problems may not go away. Insurance Problems
Any insurance company, either through the Lyft company or through the driver, may not be willing to cover your injury expenses. They may give you the runaround, transferring you to department after department. They may repeatedly claim that you’re not covered as a passenger, even though you strongly suspect that you are. They may refuse to take your calls, or deny claims that should rightfully be approved.
If you have been involved in an accident as a Lyft passenger, your best course of action is to:
- Take pictures of the event with your cell phone
- Record relevant audio and video of the event with your phone
- Answer honestly all questions from the police at the scene of the accident
- Firmly reject any bribery attempts or offerings
- Visit a physician immediately after the accident
- Get a copy of the physician’s report of your injuries
- Contact the Lyft accident lawyers at The Elan Law Firm in New York or Washington, D.C.
- Do not discuss the accident with the Lyft driver
- Arrange alternative transportation after the accident; do not get back into their vehicle
- Settle your Lyft bill before leaving the accident scene
Vehicle accidents can cause personal injuries that aren’t immediately apparent right after the accident occurs. To protect yourself, follow these guidelines and contact the Lyft accident lawyers at The Elan Law Firm as soon as possible after a Lyft accident.