Can I Sue Lyft After an Accident?

August 7, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
Can I Sue Lyft After an Accident?

If you suffered an injury in a Lyft accident, you may want to know about the legal recourse available, leaving you asking, "Can I sue Lyft?"

The complex nature of rideshare companies like Lyft means the usual rules of automobile accidents might not apply.

Speak to a Lyft accident lawyer with experience in rideshare accident cases to learn about your rights and legal options after a Lyft accident. 

Understanding Rideshare Services Like Lyft

Experience Lawyer for rideshare accidents near Las Vegas, NV area

Rideshare companies like Lyft have transformed how we travel. While the convenience of going online and arranging for a driver to pick you up is unmatched, understanding the legal aspects associated with these services can be complex and confusing, especially in the unfortunate event of an accident.

According to a study by the University of Chicago, rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft relate to a 3 percent annual increase in traffic fatalities.

There are more cars on the road than ever before, as people commonly choose ridesharing over commuting by bus or foot, and rideshare companies often subsidize drivers for staying on the road after they've transported a passenger and are waiting for another one. This increases the amount of traffic and poses greater risks for travelers.

Unlike traditional taxi companies, Lyft operates on a unique business model that can make it difficult to pinpoint responsibility in accident cases. Instead of hiring employees to provide transportation for customers, drivers who apply for Lyft are independent contractors. This policy shields Lyft from many of its drivers’ actions.

The government has, however, more recently tightened regulations, and companies must now obtain third-party insurance to compensate victims if the driver's policy coverage is at its limit or their insurance provider refuses the claim because it happened while they used their vehicle for ridesharing.

Lyft requires its drivers to possess the minimum level of liability insurance necessary in the state where they're providing rideshare services and also provides a third-party liability insurance policy. But you can only file a claim against Lyft’s policy if the driver is en route to pick up a passenger or is transporting one when the accident occurs, and only after the injured party has sought coverage through an at-fault Lyft driver's auto liability coverage.

To further complicate matters, many accidents involving Lyft vehicles result from another driver's negligence.

A Lyft accident lawyer with experience in rideshare accidents can guide you through these complexities, protect your rights, and fully explore potential legal remedies.

A Lawyer's Role in a Lyft Accident Case

If you are in a Lyft accident, you don't have to determine the next steps yourself. A lawyer experienced in rideshare accident cases can do the work for you. 

One of the first things your lawyer can do is identify those who could be liable for the accident. This could include the Lyft driver, other drivers involved, the rideshare company, or even vehicle manufacturers in some cases.

When a Lyft accident lawyer begins working on a claim, they will typically reach out to all insurance providers involved and instruct them to send all correspondence about the accident to themselves instead of the claimant.

Collecting evidence following an accident is also crucial, and this is another area where your lawyer can make a significant impact. They will obtain accident reports, gather witness statements, photographs, and medical records, and work diligently to compile a body of evidence for your case. 

Dealing with insurance companies after an accident can be another challenge for victims of Lyft accidents. Insurance providers often try to minimize the value of claims to protect their bottom line.

To do this, they may exploit the victim's lack of knowledge and understanding of the legal process, convincing them to accept an inappropriately low settlement. They may also authorize the release of medical information that is not pertinent to the claim.

An experienced Lyft accident lawyer will manage communication with the insurance provider to keep the conversation focused on negotiating a fair settlement and protecting their client's rights. 

A Lyft accident lawyer can also provide crucial guidance throughout the process, ensuring you have the information you need to make decisions about your claim, such as whether to accept a settlement or file a lawsuit.

Lyft and Liability: A Complex Landscape

Determining liability, fault, in a Lyft accident is not always straightforward. The complex legal landscape surrounding rideshare accidents can differ significantly from traditional automobile accidents.  

A Lyft accident can result in more than just physical injuries. The emotional distress of significant injury can profoundly affect your life. You must understand that you may seek compensation for these non-economic damages, known as pain and suffering.

Rideshare accidents can lead to many harms, ranging from minor to fatal. Common injuries include:

  • Whiplash.
  • Concussion.
  • Broken or fractured bones.
  • Lacerations.
  • Spinal cord injuries.
  • Traumatic brain injuries.

These injuries vary in severity and may require extensive medical treatment, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. They could also have long-term repercussions affecting your ability to work and overall quality of life.

Medical treatment in the United States for the type of injuries commonly sustained in a Lyft accident isn't cheap. According to a U.S. debt support organization, the average cost per day in a hospital is $2,883, and the average hospital stay is 4.6 days. The total average cost is over $13,200.

This is just for the bed and the room.

Additional costs include surgery; medical supplies; doctors, surgeons, and other hospital staff; medication; and assistive devices, such as a wheelchair or crutches. If your injury does not require hospitalization, there will still likely be costs for services and supplies, such as diagnostic imaging scans, a physical examination, prescription medication, and follow-up care.

Serious injuries often cause physical disabilities that can permanently impair the sufferer's ability to earn an income. If you are unable to work as a result of injuries sustained in a rideshare accident, your compensation must account for the loss of income.

The nature and extent of your injuries, cost of medical treatment, lost income, property damage, and overall impact on your quality of life are all factors your lawyer will consider when building your case. They understand that compensation is about acknowledging the physical pain, emotional distress, and other consequences this event has had on your everyday life as well as covering medical expenses.

Your Rights as a Rideshare Passenger

As a passenger in a Lyft vehicle, you have certain rights that are essential to understand, especially in the event of an accident. First, you have the right to safe transportation.

This means the Lyft driver and the company have a responsibility to ensure you reach your destination safely. This encompasses a range of factors, from the driver's proficiency behind the wheel to the safety standards of the vehicle itself.

Lyft requires all drivers to submit background checks of their personal driving history, proof of insurance, and an inspection of the vehicle the driver intends to use to transport passengers.

Additionally, in situations where the unthinkable happens and you are involved in a Lyft accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. Lyft accident victims generally file claims against the liability insurance policy that the driver who caused the accident holds; however, if the Lyft driver was at fault and the accident occurred while they were transporting a passenger or picking them up, Lyft's third-party liability policy can also come into play, providing an additional source of compensation.

You have the right to legal representation. Hiring a lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Your lawyer will guide you through the insurance claims and negotiations process, and, if necessary, represent you in court.

Many people avoid speaking with a lawyer about their case because they don't think they can afford to pay for an attorney's services; however, personal injury lawyers typically use a contingent fee billing method that doesn't require payment for their services until the injured party receives compensation.

This effectively ensures that anyone who needs the assistance of a rideshare accident lawyer has access to an attorney. Seeking legal assistance early can make a significant difference in the outcome, providing not only legal help but also the support and guidance you may need.

State laws differ significantly and will affect who you can hold liable, the damages you can recover, and how long you have to file a lawsuit. Remember, you have rights, and a competent personal injury lawyer will uphold them. Through their experience and dedication, they'll be there to guide you through the complex legal maze that follows a Lyft accident. 

What to Do If You Suffer an Injury in a Rideshare Accident

Knowing what to do after an accident can affect the eventual outcome of any legal proceedings. At the scene, you should ensure your safety, call the police, and seek immediate medical attention. Even if you feel fine, obtaining a medical evaluation is essential.

Some injuries, particularly those related to the head, neck, or spinal cord, may not manifest symptoms immediately. A timely medical evaluation not only protects your health but also provides a crucial medical record for any future legal proceedings.

Be sure to retain any documentation and bills relating to your medical treatment. As soon as possible, get a free case evaluation with an experienced rideshare accident attorney who will ensure you understand your legal options and provide answers to your questions.

When dealing with insurance adjusters, you must carefully choose your words, as they can use any statements you make to limit your claim. Let your lawyer handle communications with the insurance company to ensure you don't inadvertently damage your case.

Patience is essential when going through the Lyft injury claims process. It may take time for you to achieve maximum medical improvement; this is when your doctor determines that your condition has stabilized, and you likely will not see any further physical recovery, even if treatment continues.

At this point, your attorney has a clear picture of whether you incurred any permanent injuries that will impair your future earning capacity or necessitate future medical treatments. They have a greater understanding of the totality of your expenses and harms.

Other issues that can delay a settlement include an insurance provider disputing liability or the cost of the claim or outright refusing to settle. Claims that go to trial are at the mercy of the court's schedule. Rest assured, however, that your personal injury law firm will handle all aspects of your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve for the financial and psychological consequences of your injury.

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Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.