Ridesharing services hit the transportation market just over a decade ago, and since then, it has only increased in popularity. One of the most popular companies, Lyft, serves small and large communities everywhere.
Lyft drivers are independent contractors that use their personal vehicles, and like any other car on the road, they face the potential risk of a motor vehicle accident. If you sustained an injury or lost a loved one in a car accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, you may seek compensation for any resulting injuries and damages.
There are many elements to a Lyft car accident lawsuit that affect your potential for an award or settlement, so you would likely benefit from speaking with an Uber or Lyft accident lawyer about the details of your case and the legal options available.
Rideshare Laws in New York
New York requires all licensed drivers to carry no-fault insurance. In the event of a car accident, that insurance, typically referred to as personal injury protection (PIP), covers the cost of medical treatment and lost wages caused by injuries sustained in a car accident.
PIP extends to the driver and the passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident. However, the circumstances differ in a case involving a rideshare service.
If you suffer an injury in a car accident caused by a Lyft driver, that driver’s personal insurance policy may or may not cover the cost of medical care as it may be a personal insurance policy. Since ridesharing is a business transaction it often requires commercial insurance, and New York state law mandates minimum insurance coverage under the circumstances specific to the rideshare experience. In New York City the ridesharing rules are even more strict and are regulated by the Taxi & Limousine Commission.
You would likely benefit from speaking with a Lyft car accident law firm about the steps you can take to file an insurance claim and receive compensation.
State Insurance Coverage Requirements for Lyft Drivers
The amount of insurance coverage required of rideshare drivers in New York varies depending on whether or not they have a passenger in the vehicle.
When there is no passenger in the car at the time of the accident, the driver’s insurance should cover at a minimum:
- $150,000 for bodily injury or death per accident
- $75,000 for bodily injury or death per individual
- $25,000 for damaged property
The limits increase when passengers are present. With passengers, drivers must have a minimum of $1.25 million in liability insurance coverage and $1.25 million in uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.
(*please note that the above numbers are different with rides that originate in the City of New York)
However, as previously stated, this coverage may not provide compensation if it falls under a personal policy rather than a commercial policy. A rideshare accident attorney understands the laws governing a Lyft accident and the insurance requirements of the local and state government.
They can advise you of the next steps if you suffered an injury as a Lyft passenger with a driver that did not carry the correct insurance.
Insurance Provided by Lyft
Every rideshare company offers differing levels of coverage. However, Lyft provides the following insurance for drivers and passengers explicitly:
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist covers you if the other driver is at fault and does not have proper coverage.
- Contingent liability protects the driver if their personal insurance does not.
- Contingent comprehensive coverage protects the driver from non-collision damage where their personal insurance falls short.
- Contingent collision coverage supplements personal insurance coverage in the event of property damage.
- Primary auto liability provides $1 million in coverage for bodily injury and property damage per accident for the driver and passengers during the ride.
Company insurance coverage is particular to the timing of the auto accident. As a result, you may face challenges from the insurance company about the rideshare being still active at the time of the accident. An attorney can help you gather evidence to combat that argument.
State Insurance Coverage Requirements for Rideshare Companies
Thankfully, New York state law mandates that all rideshare companies, including Lyft, provide insurance coverage for drivers and passengers. Coverage kicks in when the driver is on duty and has passengers in the vehicle.
Similar to the policies required of drivers, rideshare companies must provide a minimum of $1.25 million in liability coverage and $1.25 million in uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage for rides that originate outside of the City of New York.
As a passenger, you have the potential protection of the driver’s personal or commercial insurance policy or Lyft’s insurance coverage depending on where the ride originated. Considering the complicated nature of rideshare accident cases, you would likely benefit from speaking with a Lyft or Uber accident lawyer about your accident.
Potential Damages a Lyft Accident Lawyer May Help You Recover
The concept of damages encompasses all the losses associated with your accident and injuries. Therefore, you must present evidence of damages to receive compensation, whether you file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
If you are unsure which is more appropriate for your case, a personal injury attorney can help you understand what damages you suffered and how best to seek compensation for them.
Some potential damages that a rideshare accident attorney commonly deals with include:
- Economic damages. These include the specific losses associated with your injuries. For example, if your injuries resulted in medical bills for hospital stays, outpatient doctor visits, necessary medical devices, ambulance rides, medications, and therapy, you can request compensation for those expenses. Economic damages may also include future medical bills if your injuries result in long-term treatment. Additionally, you may ask for payment of lost wages and future lost wages caused by missed work or diminished ability to earn income. Finally, if you lost a loved one as a result of the accident, you could request the cost of funeral and cremation or burial expenses as well as lost income and benefits provided by the deceased.
- Non-economic damages. These include the subjective losses that you suffered. For example, pain and suffering may encompass post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, mental anguish, and emotional distress. If the accident resulted in the death of a loved one, you may claim loss of companionship. Additionally, spouses may claim loss of consortium, and pregnant women who lost a fetus can also claim damages for that loss.
The more losses incurred, the greater the value of your claim. However, more losses also tend to complicate the process. A Lyft accident lawyer can help you accurately value your claim and will handle the insurance company for you.
Remember that insurance companies always protect company interests above the accident victim’s interests. An experienced attorney will combat any bad faith attempts to devalue your claim and fight for fair compensation.
Possible Factors Affecting Your Claim for Damages
Another essential role of a rideshare accident attorney is to help you better understand the factors that could potentially affect your claim for damages. Fault determination is a significant component of any personal injury case, and Lyft passengers are rarely, if ever, at fault.
However, drivers may face challenges from the insurance company. More often than not, insurers attempt to lessen the financial blow of a valid claim by arguing that the other driver either shared fault for the accident or bears full responsibility.
If you suffered a serious injury in a car accident on duty as a Lyft driver, you could still recover some compensation in a personal injury lawsuit even if you share fault.
Comparative Negligence Rule
Perhaps you know that you, the Lyft driver, were at least partially responsible for the accident and your resulting injuries. In that case, you should still contact a Lyft accident lawyer about your case.
Under the comparative negligence rule, you still have the opportunity to recover your damages. However, the final awarded compensation reflects a subtraction of your percentage of fault.
For example, if the court awards you $50,000 in compensation but finds you 50% responsible, you would receive half of the $50,000. Most states follow the modified rule of comparative negligence, which only allows you to receive a payment if you are less than 50% or 51% at fault.
However, New York follows the pure comparative negligence rule, which permits the recovery of some damages as long as you are not 100% at fault.
Other factors affecting your claim depend upon your case’s specific details. If your personal insurance denies your claim, Lyft’s company insurance may compensate for your losses. A Lyft car accident attorney can explain what insurance company should cover your damages.
Steps You Should Take Following a Lyft Car Accident
A rideshare accident attorney can offer more thorough advice about what you should do in the immediate fallout of a Lyft car accident. However, in general, you handle the situation much like any other car accident.
There are six key steps to protect your rights and gather the information that may function as adequate evidence to support a personal injury claim.
1. Contact Law Enforcement
Before you do anything else, you want to contact the police. Call 911 and request emergency medical services immediately if anyone suffers severe injuries. They will dispatch police officers along with the ambulance. If no one appears to need medical attention right away, you can call the non-emergency line in the area to report the accident.
New York state law mandates reporting any accident resulting in injuries or property damage amounting to more than $1,000. If no one suffered an injury and damage to the vehicles appears minimal, you can still report the accident by filing online or going to the nearest police station.
Before the officers arrive, you should avoid talking to anyone on the scene, particularly the other driver. Car accidents are rattling, and it is a natural human reaction to want to discuss it.
You may feel compelled to apologize even if you were not in the vehicle that caused the accident, but an apology is a perceivable admission of guilt. Ultimately, it is in your best interest to remain silent and wait for the police to arrive and conduct an investigation.
2. Document Everything
Once you reach out to a Lyft accident lawyer, they may ask you to provide any evidence you collected at the scene. Before the police even arrive, you can begin documenting everything. Use your smartphone or an available camera to take photographs.
Some crucial elements to capture include:
- Damage to both vehicles
- Any visible injuries on your body
- The road and weather conditions around the accident area
- Any traffic signs or signals near the scene
- License plate numbers for both drivers
You may also benefit from recording a video of the scene and surrounding area while explaining the events leading up to the accident and what unfolded during the crash. Then, a Lyft car accident attorney could use that information while it is fresh in your mind to get a clear understanding of your case.
3. Collect Everyone’s Information
Collect the names and contact information of everyone involved. You should ask both drivers for their driver’s licenses and insurance cards and take a photo of each.
Before the police leave the scene, ask for their names and badge numbers. You can request a copy of the police report they intend to file as soon as it is available.
Additionally, eyewitnesses may act as an important source of evidence for your claim as well. If you see anyone nearby that potentially saw the accident unfold, ask for their name and contact information.
If the accident occurred in a congested location, such as a shopping center parking lot, you may even find witnesses inside that saw the accident occur before they entered. Your Lyft accident lawyer can use that information to schedule depositions and question witnesses about the accident.
4. Undergo a Medical Evaluation
Every personal injury claim requires evidence of injuries. You may not feel the need to contact emergency medical services at the time of the accident, but you should still see a doctor right away for a complete evaluation for several reasons:
- Some injuries, such as internal bleeding, are not initially evident and may present latent symptoms.
- The adrenaline rush that often follows an accident can block pain receptors and mask serious injuries for hours.
- Doctors provide official medical records that function as evidence of your injuries for a personal injury claim.
- If you wait too long to seek medical attention, the defendant and the insurance company can claim that you sustained those injuries elsewhere.
Ultimately, seeing a doctor within the first few days following an accident protects your health and provides vital evidence supporting your claim for compensation.
5. Contact Your Insurance Provider
Whether you are a Lyft driver or a passenger, you should report the accident to your insurance provider. You should have no trouble even filing a claim right away with New York’s insurance laws.
Regardless, you must at least report the accident immediately. Waiting too long may result in losing your right to file a claim or request a settlement. Additionally, you should report the accident to Lyft.
6. Speak to a Lyft Car Accident Attorney
The laws that govern car accidents are typically straightforward, but if you are not familiar with the litigation or insurance claim process, you may face uncertainties. A Lyft accident lawyer knows the questions to ask and can quickly assess your answers to determine if you are eligible for more compensation than your PIP insurance.
The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim or lawsuit following a car accident is three years from the date of the crash. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the more time you have to adequately value your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Advantages of Hiring a Rideshare Accident Attorney in New York City
As you navigate the aftereffects of a car accident, you may find yourself unsure about what steps to take when seeking financial recovery. Even if you are familiar with car accident claims and lawsuits, dealing with a rideshare accident has subtle differences.
Some advantages of hiring a Lyft car accident attorney include:
- They handle all the legal work, including filing the excessive amounts of paperwork required for a personal injury claim.
- They will evaluate your case thoroughly to ensure that you include all the available damages in your claim and get the most from your compensation.
- They know the deadlines and ensure that you do not miss any.
- They represent you in all negotiations with insurance companies and in the courtroom.
- They prepare your case as if they assume it will go to trial while actively pursuing a fair settlement to avoid the courtroom.
- The typical rideshare accident attorney works on contingency, which means they do not require any upfront fees to work on your case. Instead, they will only receive payment when they secure compensation for you.
- They simplify and speed up the legal process.
If you have concerns about compensation for a recent Lyft car accident, speak with a Lyft accident lawyer at Sattler Law Group. With experienced legal representation, you can spend your time focusing on recovery rather than fighting an insurance company over a fair claim.
Accident victims should not carry the resulting financial burden if you suffered an injury or lost a loved one because someone else acted negligently. Submit an online form or call Sattler Law Group today for a free consultation.