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The ride-sharing policies at Lyft are the result of intensive negotiations with local and regional lawmakers in the Philadelphia area from back when the company first wanted to put drivers on the roads. Because Lyft’s business model is so different from anything that had been done up until that point, laws and regulations dealing with everything from insurance to employment issues to what it meant to drive a “commercial vehicle” had to be revisited and tweaked to ensure nothing fell between the cracks. To make things even more complex, the taxi companies in Philadelphia lobbied extensively to keep Lyft out of the area or hamstring Lyft’s drivers so much that taxis would still keep their market share.
How Lyft’s ride-sharing policies work in Philadelphia, therefore, are important to know before you hail a ride, especially if you are concerned about your safety and what would happen if something went wrong.
The Complications Created by Lyft’s Novel Business Model
While ride-sharing companies like Lyft seem a lot like a taxi company – the only difference is you can hail a ride on your smartphone rather than flagging down a passing taxi or calling the dispatch center – they are actually very different. Unlike taxi companies, the only thing that ride-sharing companies like Lyft do is maintain the smartphone application that connects passengers looking for a ride with drivers who have space in their car.
The difference is significant from a legal standpoint. While taxi companies have lots of control over who drives their vehicles, Lyft only has a minimal amount of control. There are significant risks that a Lyft driver has the type of criminal background that makes it unsafe for passengers to get in their car and a strong chance that the driver’s insurance does not cover situations where there is a paying passenger in the vehicle.
These risks lie at the heart of the rules and regulations that lawmakers in Philadelphia have passed with regard to Lyft, as well as the ride-sharing policies that Lyft has enacted to pacify the concerns enough to let the company put its drivers on the roads. Some of the most important policies include rules that deal with the following.
- Eligible vehicles for Lyft drivers
- Who can drive for Lyft
- Fair treatment of passengers
Eligible Vehicles for Lyft in Philadelphia
One important component of the ride-sharing policies that Lyft uses in Philadelphia deals with the vehicles that drivers use while picking up passengers. While Lyft was chiefly concerned with controlling their image on this front, lawmakers were also concerned with making sure the vehicles were safe for passengers. The basic requirements for vehicles include the following.
- The vehicle has to be from 2004 or later.
- The car has to be registered.
- The vehicle has to have at least four doors and between five and eight seats, including the driver’s seat.
- There have to be fewer than 350,000 miles on the vehicle.
- Branded or other for-hire cars, like taxis or limos, are not allowed.
- In Philadelphia, Lyft stickers have to be visible on both the front and back windshield while the vehicle is accepting passengers or in “drive mode.”
- The car has to pass inspection in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, or New York.
Additional vehicle requirements need to be met for drivers to use luxury Lyft platforms.
Regulations for Drivers
Lawmakers were especially concerned with who would be allowed to drive Lyft vehicles. Unfortunately, this concern was not shared by Lyft – Lyft just wanted to get as many drivers on the road as possible to ensure short wait times for passengers who had hailed a ride. Therefore, the ride-sharing policies dealing with eligible drivers were a significant point of contention and continue to be a problem. Lyft requires drivers to
- have a driver’s license, even if it is just a temporary one;
- be at least 21 years old;
- release a photo for passengers to see on the smartphone app;
- follow hour limits for driving; and
- pass Lyft’s background check.
This background check is supposed to fail driver applicants if it finds any of the following.
- A DUI in the last seven years, whether the offense involved either alcohol or drugs.
- Convictions for major traffic crimes in the last seven years, like hit-and-run or other vehicular felony.
- A major moving violation in the last three years, like driving on a suspended license.
- More than three moving violations in the last three years.
- Certain offenses involving drugs.
- A prior conviction for a sexual or violent crime.
However, Lyft’s policies require drivers to self-report anything that happens after being hired that could change a driver’s status. Few drivers follow this policy because they know that it would prevent them from making money with Lyft, and Lyft rarely checks for violations.
Regulations for Passenger Treatment
Lyft has policies in place that tell drivers to treat all passengers the same, regardless of race, religion, or disability. However, enforcement of these policies is very lax, and drivers have been known to discriminate against some people more than others. Disabled passengers, in particular, have had a hard time with Lyft drivers because they can require more help getting into or out of a Lyft vehicle, and drivers see this as time-consuming.
Finally, Lyft’s ride-sharing policies in Philadelphia require drivers to have their own insurance policies before taking passengers. Unfortunately, many of these insurance policies strictly refuse coverage when the vehicle is being used for a commercial purpose. While Lyft has an insurance policy of $1 million that is supposed to cover accidents when there is a passenger in the vehicle, Lyft has shown that it will take whatever means necessary to escape paying for a crash.
Gilman & Bedigian Represent Accident Victims in Philadelphia
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can legally represent ride-sharing accident victims in Philadelphia and help them get the compensation they deserve if they have been hurt in an accident involving a Lyft driver. Contact them online.