There are many great things that technology has brought into our daily lives. One of the more recent technological advancements that has changed the way we get around is rideshare apps. Rideshare apps like Lyft are not only convenient for catching a ride to a venue or getting home from the bar after drinking. They are also changing the way Chicagoans move around the city for everyday tasks. Although this technology has changed our lives for the better in many ways, it does not come without its risks, including car accidents.
Auto accidents involving two drivers who own their own vehicles are complicated enough. But when you factor into a car accident a multi-billion dollar third-party app company and their contracted employee, the legal situation can become more complex. If you were injured as a Lyft passenger or you were hit by a Lyft driver, you can seek compensation for damages. The car accident injury lawyers at Abels & Annes have been handling Lyft accidents for years and we understand how to approach these unique claims and secure compensation for our clients.
How Does Lyft Work?
Technology changed the transportation game in Illinois with the arrival of Lyft. It’s a peer-to-peer ridesharing program that is now in more than 600 cities across the country, including Chicago. Lyft makes it much easier to catch a ride compared to calling or hailing a taxi. This is especially true for people trying to catch rides in areas that are not surrounded by traditional taxis. With Lyft, you can simply open the app and request a ride directly from your phone. This makes it very convenient to get around without your own car.
Lyft works by enabling those in need of a ride to request exactly that through the use of an app. In response, a Lyft driver will pick up that rider and take them to the location of their choice. Riders can share their locations with friends or family, split the fare, and even choose between different levels of vehicles, like larger SUVs or luxury cars. The app is so popular and easy to use that traditional limo and car service companies have even started using them.
Lyft has a relatively wide service area. They will accommodate riders anywhere in their area, which makes using the app to travel relatively easy and flexible.
Rideshare apps like Lyft have disrupted the traditional taxi and private car service industries, since it functions much like an on-demand cab service. The main difference between Lyft and cabs is that Lyft often has lower fees and is much more convenient to hire.
One issue that rideshare apps like Lyft have created is the complication around insurance coverage in the event of an accident. If you are riding in a Lyft and the driver causes an accident, what do you do? If you are struck by a Lyft driver while you are driving your own vehicle, who do you hold liable? The answer to these questions first requires an understanding of the different scenarios of accidents involving a Lyft driver.
Different Scenarios of Lyft Accidents
To understand who can be held responsible for a Lyft accident, you first have to realize that rideshare companies categorize drivers into three different categories based on what state their app is in when they get into an accident. These three possible states are:
- App Offline. The driver has their Lyft app off.
- No Passenger While App Online. The driver has their Lyft app on but is waiting for a ride request.
- App Online with a Passenger. The driver has the app on and has a passenger onboard or is driving to pick the passenger up.
When a driver has their Lyft app turned off (known as offline), the driver has no association with Lyft. Therefore, they have no insurance coverage provided by the company. When you’re involved in an accident with someone who works for Lyft, but isn’t logged in to the app and working, you would pursue compensation from that person’s personal auto insurance. If they are found to be at-fault for the accident, your attorney would seek compensation by filing a car accident claim with their insurance company for your injuries as you would for any other car accident.
App Online with No Passenger
If the driver has the Lyft app online and is waiting for a passenger, they are technically actively working. In other words, the driver neither has passengers with them nor are they driving to pick passengers up. When this is the case, Lyft does carry liability insurance for their drivers. However, with no passenger in the vehicle, the supplemental coverage that Lyft offers is much lower. Any accident caused by the driver while in this state may require the driver’s own insurance to kick in. As a supplement, Lyft would provide up to $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident for bodily injury and up to $25,000 for property damage. This coverage only applies if the driver’s own insurance is not sufficient to cover the cost of the damages.
App Online with a Passenger
If the app is online and there is a passenger in the car (or the driver is on their way to pick up a specific passenger), this is when more insurance coverage becomes available. When the accident is the fault of the Lyft driver, the driver’s insurance and Lyft’s insurance may be used to cover the injuries of both the Lyft rider and the person in the other vehicle. If the other vehicle’s driver is at fault for the accident, their insurance company can be pursued for compensation to cover any damages. Lyft also offers uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage in the event a Lyft rider is injured by another driver who doesn’t have adequate insurance.
If you find yourself injured while riding in a Lyft or because you were hit by a Lyft driver, you should contact an attorney experienced in handling these cases. Do not let the driver or anyone else talk you out of reporting the accident or from contacting an attorney. Let a legal representative that is on your side determine your legal options and advise you on moving forward with your injury claim.
Causes of Lyft Accidents
In general, Lyft accidents are caused for the same reasons that regular car accidents are caused.
However, rideshare drivers do have a few circumstances specific to their situations that could contribute to an accident. For example, Lyft drivers obviously are required to use their phones while operating their vehicles in order to navigate to the correct location, pick up passengers, accept new rides, and update the app to their status. Because of this, Lyft drivers are much more likely to cause an accident due to distracted driving when compared to other drivers.
And, just like anyone else, Lyft drivers can be irresponsible and cause accidents because of any other type of negligence. This may include driving while drunk, driving under the influence of drugs, reckless and aggressive driving, or speeding.
Lyft drivers are also just as likely as other drivers to cause accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
What are the Safety Issues with Lyft Rides in Chicago?
With all of the positives associated with Lyft, it may be surprising to some users to consider the fact that there are numerous drawbacks with electing this mode of transit.
First, Lyft vehicles are not regulated to the same extent that many other vehicles offering rides to the public are regulated. Riders often use Lyft and assume that the vehicle taking them to their destination is safe.
Lyft advertises minimum requirements for its vehicles. The also say that all vehicles undergo a 19-point inspection before being cleared to operate. However, this should not provide a lot of comfort for riders.
Much can be missed in a general inspection. And a vehicle can sustain damage or run into problems after the inspection occurs, leading to a potentially dangerous ride. These cars are also unfamiliar to passengers.
Riders will not know if the vehicle’s brakes have been showing signs of wear. Or that an in-dash unit is not functioning as it should. In the worst situations, a mechanical failure may take place and lead to a car accident.
In a similar vein, passengers cannot control the actions of the individuals who operate a Lyft vehicle. Drivers are rated based upon past performance but there is no guarantee that ratings are accurate.
Do Lyft Operators Have an Incentive to Drive Recklessly?
Instead, some drivers may speed, or fail to stop completely at red lights or stop signs. This, to get riders to their locations faster.
Fast driving may appeal to some riders, and it could allow a driver to receive higher ratings. However, reckless conduct increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries to both passengers and innocent people who happen to be in the area.
Many forms of transportation require passengers to lose a degree of control over their own safety. But other transit options have more regulations at the state and local level than Lyft. This provides those other forms of transportation with greater safety requirements.
What Should I do After a Lyft Car Accident in Chicago?
Lyft collisions happen with regularity in Illinois. If you are in a crash, there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself and your rights.
You should always cooperate with local law enforcement officers as they conduct their investigation. Many investigations take place at the scene of the crash. Some may even require additional follow up at a later time.
No matter the length of an investigation, it is a good idea to cooperate. Be honest when police ask questions.
And if you are a Lyft passenger with injuries, do not walk away from the scene before police arrive. You may be left off the police report, and this can create insurance claim issues.
If you sustain injuries in an accident, make your health a priority. Victims of accidents who seek medical treatment quickly often fare better than those who wait to get help.
Sometimes, injuries can worsen as time progresses. Injuries are often masked by adrenaline in the moments immediately following a collision. They may not set in fully for a few hours or even a day after a crash. No matter the timing, make sure you seek help if you need it.
Compensation for Your Damages
The types of damages you can recover compensation for if you are injured in a Lyft car accident include:
Medical expenses. This includes any medical bills you accumulated, as well as the cost of future care. For example, this may include the:
- cost of an ambulance ride
- ER bill
- long-term physical therapy
Lost Income. While you are recovering from your injuries, you will likely miss work. You might be ordered off work by a physician, or you may need to attend necessary medical appointments. You can recover these lost wages in a personal injury claim. Additionally, you can also seek compensation for lost earning ability if your injuries require you to engage in lower paying work in a different function or industry. Or if your injuries require that you work less and therefore earn less.
Pain and Suffering. If you are seriously injured due to another driver’s negligence, you can seek compensation for what is known as pain and suffering damages. These types of damages include both physical and mental pain and suffering caused by the trauma of the accident and by your injuries. The amount of pain and suffering damages a person can seek is subjective. They are negotiated by your attorney and the insurance carrier based on the severity of the injuries, and comparisons to previous settlements and verdicts.
Property Damages. When another person’s negligence causes damage to your vehicle or other personal property, you can seek compensation for any necessary repairs or replacement as part of your claim.
Should You Contact a Chicago Lyft Accident Lawyer at Abels & Annes, P.C.?
Finally, if your Lyft accident happened in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, know that state law protects the rights of accident victims. Often, riders with injuries from Lyft accidents can make a claim for their damages. Further, they can use the services of a personal injury attorney to assist them at every step of their claim.
If you have questions about your options or if you need help, call the legal team at Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free consultation. We have a licensed attorney available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with you.
Further, there’s no fee unless you win your case. You can reach us toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442), locally at (312) 924-7575, or online at your convenience.
If you were injured in a Chicago Lyft accident, call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (855) 529-2442 for a free case consultation.