Ridesharing companies like Lyft have exploded in the Philadelphia area in the past few years. Riders have flocked to the system because it offers pickup and delivery for a discounted price that regular taxis cannot match, while drivers like the idea that they can use their cars to easily make some money in a “side hustle.”
However, Lyft's ridesharing system is only nice until something goes wrong and there is a car accident. If you get hurt in a crash involving a Lyft vehicle, you can enforce your rights to compensation in court by filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, because of the intricate and controversial relationship between the Lyft driver and the ridehailing company, itself, these lawsuits can be complex. This makes it important to have a skilled Philadelphia car accident and personal injury lawyer on your side, like those at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian.
You Can Sue After a Lyft Accident in Philadelphia
The important answer to an often-asked question is yes, you can sue if you have been hurt in a car crash involving a Lyft vehicle.
Personal injury law in Pennsylvania allows you to formally seek compensation for your injuries by filing a lawsuit against whoever caused the accident that led to your injuries. Car accidents that were caused by Lyft drivers are no exception.
To succeed in these lawsuits, you will need to prove four things:
- The Lyft driver owed you a duty of care to keep you safe or out of harm's way,
- The Lyft driver failed to uphold this duty,
- That failure was the cause of your injuries, and
- The extent of your injuries.
These elements are similar in all other car accident lawsuits, as well as in all other personal injury cases. In fact, the only major difference between suing someone for a normal car accident and suing a Lyft driver for one involving their vehicle is a practical consideration: The working relationship between Lyft and its drivers can make it tricky getting the amount of compensation you need to cover the costs of your injuries.
How the Working Relationship Between Lyft and Its Drivers Can Impact Your Case
Typically, when someone is working for their employer, any accidents that they cause while on the clock will make their employer strictly liable for the injuries that result. This allows the victims of the accident to get compensated by the employer, even though the employer was not technically the cause of the accident – it was their employee, instead.
This is the legal doctrine of respondeat superior and is a very useful legal tool to get accident victims the compensation they need to make a full recovery: The employer is often better able to cover the costs of your recovery than the employee.
The ridesharing company Lyft, though, does not hire its drivers as employees. Instead, Lyft hires drivers that are independent contractors. In theory, this means that Lyft cannot control how its drivers do their job, keeping them at enough of a distance that respondeat superior cannot be used to implicate Lyft in any crashes caused by its drivers. In practice, Lyft exerts a lot of control over its drivers, to such an extent that many lawyers think Lyft's drivers should actually be considered employees, despite Lyft's insistence that they are just independent contractors.
Whether Lyft drivers are employees of Lyft or just independent contractors might not seem like something that will ever impact you. However, if you get hurt in a car accident with a Lyft driver, the difference can become very real, very quickly. If the Lyft driver who hurt you is considered a Lyft employee and was on the clock when the accident happened, you stand to get compensation from both the driver and from Lyft, as well. Lyft is a multi-million dollar company that can easily cover the costs of your medical expenses and your other legal damages, so if the driver is deemed a Lyft employee, it ensures you full compensation from Lyft through the legal doctrine of respondeat superior.
However, if the Lyft driver is determined to be merely an independent contractor, then liability for the accident and for your injuries does not pass through the driver to Lyft. Instead of being able to get compensation from Lyft's coffers, you will be limited to only the driver's assets and any insurance they have. This can leave you woefully under-compensated for your injuries and other losses.
The Role of Insurance in Lyft Accidents
Since the proliferation of ridesharing companies like Lyft in Philadelphia, auto insurance companies have expanded the types of car insurance they offer. Some of these new packages are specifically designed for ridesharing drivers like those that work with Lyft.
If you get hurt in a car crash with a Lyft vehicle and the driver is covered by one of these new insurance packages, you stand to benefit from their coverage because it lets you pursue their insurance company for compensation, in addition to the driver on a personal level. This drastically increases the odds that you will receive all of the compensation that you deserve and that you need in order to make a full recovery.
Lyft Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Personal injury lawsuits that stem from car accidents that were caused by professional drivers have always been a legal problem for the victims of the wreck. Taxi companies have always been known for using shady legal maneuvers to avoid liability when one of their passengers gets hurt or when one of their drivers hurts someone who was not in their vehicle. In this sense, Lyft is nothing new.
That does not make it any better, though, or easier for you to deal with if you have been hurt in a car accident that was caused by a Lyft driver in Philadelphia. That is why you need legal representation. Contact Philadelphia trial attorneys Gilman & Bedigian online for the legal help you need to get the financial compensation you deserve.