This article is by Steve Raiser – a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer and Criminal Defense attorney. In a short period of time, rideshare programs such as Lyft has become a popular transportation option for people in Los Angeles and across the country. Having this alternative is convenient, whether someone does not have easy access to mass transit or simply do not want to hail a cab.
What is inconvenient, however, is when you are injured in an accident en route to your destination. Before the accident, the company provides details about the driver:
• Make and model of the vehicle
• License plate
• Route driver will take
• Estimated cost
These details gives you a sense of comfort and security that your choice will have positive outcome. If not, you are given information beforehand in case an issue regarding the trip needs to be resolved.
Unfortunately, this does not include how most accident cases are handled. Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors, meaning drivers are not direct employees of the company. This is an attempt to ensure Lyft bears no responsibility for the behavior of the driver.
Concerns with Los Angeles Lyft Drivers
Since Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors, there are many questions surrounding the hiring practices of the company. While various government databases are used to conduct criminal background checks on potential drivers, the search does not include their fingerprints.
In fact, Lyft stopped operating in Houston because the city requires fingerprint background checks for drivers providing a public transportation service. Furthermore, Lyft does not own the vehicles used to pick up passengers. Maintenance and repairs are the full responsibility of the drivers.
This means the company does not have a system in place to confirm the condition of the vehicle that comes to your door to pick you up. Not only does Lyft not know if the vehicle gets regular oil changes and tire inspections, it also cannot fully confirm the driver’s judgement behind the wheel. Lyft does not provide driver training on vehicle maintenance or obeying traffic laws.
Exacerbating the scenario is drivers get paid by the number of completed trips. This makes it possible that in order to earn more money, some drivers will rush through a pickup and drop-off.
Speeding and other forms of reckless driving might become normal practices. Drivers may take their eyes off the road and check the navigation system to orient themselves to where they are going. Either one of these driving practices could lead to an accident where you are seriously injured.
Being Involved in a Lyft Vehicle Accident
A standard procedure after being involved in a car accident is for both parties to exchange information. This becomes complicated when the accident involves a Lyft driver. The company maintains that it is just the technology connection between drivers and passengers and cannot be held accountable for a car accident.
Instead, Lyft believes the driver’s auto insurance policy should compensate a passenger who was injured in the accident. Drivers do have the option to purchase additional coverage such as a $1 million commercial liability policy after keeping a certain customer rating for eligibility.
When trying to determine which insurance policy will compensate you for injuries after a Lyft car accident, getting in touch with the company is next to impossible. Although Lyft states it has 24/7 emergency assistance, the reality is this is just a Critical Response Line that passengers may contact after calling 911 first.
There is no customer service number for you to contact and report the accident. Chat, social media or email may be your only options to speak with a representative of Lyft. Even then, you will have to contend with the legal wrangling of a company that does not consider itself responsible for your injuries.
Legal Help is Available for Lyft Accident Victims
Injuries from a car accident can be very traumatic. Not only are you trying to heal, but you are also trying to get the compensation that will cover your medical expenses and lost wages.
Present complications and confusion over who is responsible after an accident involving a Lyft driver abound. Getting the answers you need and deserve may seem evasive at best. While the laws continue to catch up with this fairly new rideshare program, you may still have some legal recourse.
To ensure all of your rights are protected, contact an experienced Los Angeles Lyft car accident lawyer who is on your side.