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The yellow taxi has long been an iconic part of the New York City landscape. Along with the subway, it has also served as the most popular form of local transport. Yet the introduction of ride-sharing services has given New Yorkers a new choice; with the simple push of a button on an app, they can hail a private vehicle from services such as Lyft to whisk them away to their preferred destination.
Ride-sharing platforms have seen exponential growth in recent years — and that growth is expected to continue to surge. Between 2017 and 2022, the ride-sharing market is projected to more than double in value.
Yet while these services offer travelers much in the way of efficiency and convenience, they, like taxis, are often responsible for serious injuries to pedestrians, passengers and motorists. And, because ride-sharing is still relatively new, the law surrounding these accidents is often quite complex.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what you need to know if you’ve been in an accident involving a Lyft driver.
Ride-sharing injury considerations
There are several key things of which to be aware if you’ve been injured while riding with Lyft. First, you should understand the various insurance issues that surround ride-sharing.
Lyft has a group policy in place which provides up to ($1,000,000) One Million Dollars in liability coverage if a Lyft driver has been involved in an accident with another vehicle or with a pedestrian or bike when in the course of driving a passenger or after he or she has been matched and the driver has accepted the passenger.
Whether this coverage applies during the brief period between being matched and acceptance of the passenger is an issue which requires review of the terms of the applicable policy, as the Lyft website states somewhat inconsistent language on this issue. (It is also significant that the main competing service Uber, has a ($1,250,000) One Million and Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollar liability coverage policy during this period and they clearly state that the coverage is effective upon acceptance of the passenger on the driver app).
You should be aware, however, that there is another potential wrinkle in ride-sharing injury insurance coverage in case of an accident. If a Lyft driver is off-duty when the accident occurs, then his own private insurance (with whatever limits that policy may have) is the only coverage applicable to the accident. The same applies to Uber drivers when they are off-the app which in effect is being off duty.
Another period of Lyft coverage is the period when a driver has his app open and has not been matched with a passenger. During such a period of time, if the driver is involved in an accident, Lyft affords liability coverage for acts and omissions of the driver of up to the limit of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. Therefore, if you were involved in an accident while driving a car, a bike or while a pedestrian with a Lyft vehicle, and it was during the period before a match, the maximum coverage afforded by Lyft during this period is the $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. (Once again, Uber provides a greater amount of coverage during this same period. Uber provides $75,000 per person and $150,000 per accident for the period when the driver is on his Uber app awaiting an assignment.)
What should I do if I have been injured in an accident with a Lyft driver?
What is clear from the maze of potential insurance coverages which may be applied to a given situation is the fact that when a person is in an accident with a Lyft driver, it is important to obtain both the Lyft drivers personal insurance information as well as his Lyft insurance information.
There are times when it will be unclear whether the vehicle app was on or off when an accident occurs. In such a situation, both insurance carriers should be notified that the accident occurred.
It is always important to take as many photographs as possible in order to record the physical facts as they existed close to the time of an accident. Take photographs of the condition of the vehicles from every side and angle of the vehicle. It is also useful that photos be taken of the scene of the occurrence.
If you have suffered physical injuries, take photographs of the injury in order to preserve the nature and extent of how the injury looked after the accident.
It is also important to obtain the accident number of the police report as well as the names and addresses of all witnesses to the accident.
All of this information will be useful to your attorney when investigating and litigating your case.
Call and retain a lawyer as early in the process as possible in order to resolve legal issues, prepare a potential lawsuit and in order to communicate with the applicable insurance carriers.
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