Ridesharing companies like Lyft have offered interesting opportunities to a wide range of people in the Baltimore area. Not only does Lyft allow people to make some extra money by driving others around the city, it also gives Baltimore residents and visitors an alternative to taxis that can be cheaper and quicker.
Unfortunately, all is not good when it comes to ridesharing companies. When something goes wrong, the companies that are responsible for the industry, including Lyft, are notorious for trying to escape liability. This is despite the fact that, without a ridesharing company facilitating the connection between driver and rider, there would be no issue. Trying to get Lyft to pay its fair share if you have been hit by a Lyft driver can be difficult, and frequently takes a Baltimore car accident lawyer, like those at Gilman & Bedigian.
Suing After a Lyft Accident in Baltimore
Despite the difficulties that arise from such a lawsuit, you can sue after being hit by a Lyft driver. After all, the personal injury law of Maryland aims to get accident victims the compensation that they need to make a full recovery, and hold accountable the person, people, or companies that were responsible for those injuries.
In order to succeed in such a personal injury lawsuit against Lyft after being hit by one of its drivers, you will need to show four things.
- The Lyft driver had a legal responsibility to keep you out of harm's way.
- The Lyft driver failed to uphold this legal responsibility.
- That failure was the cause of the crash that hurt you.
- You were hurt in the crash and the extent of your injuries.
These are the same four elements that you would have to show in any personal injury case, including those that stem from injuries sustained in a car crash. The only difference between a personal injury claim from a “normal” car accident and one involving a Lyft driver is your ability to implicate Lyft, as a company, in your lawsuit and get them to pay their fair share of the compensation you deserve.
The Liability of the Employers of Professional Drivers
Typically, when it was a professional driver who negligently caused an accident on the roads of Maryland, the professional driver's employer gets implicated in the lawsuit as well. This happens through the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds employers accountable for injuries caused by the negligence of their employees while they are on the clock. After all, the employer is the one who is truly benefiting from the conduct of its employees and is in a much better position than their workers to ensure the victim gets all of the compensation that they need and deserve.
For example, if a professional truck driver is in the middle of a delivery and they negligently cause a truck accident, the victim can sue the truck driver and also the trucking company, through the doctrine of respondeat superior.
How Lyft Tries to Avoid this Liability
Lyft and other ridesharing companies, however, go to great lengths to avoid being implicated in lawsuits stemming from crashes caused by their drivers through respondeat superior. They do this by insisting that they are only responsible for the smartphone application that calls the drivers to a particular spot, and that they are not responsible for the actions of the driver, once the ride has begun.
Specifically, Lyft and other companies claim that the drivers that use their phone application are not employees, and are merely independent contractors to the company. The difference is not just a label—while employers are responsible for the negligent acts of its employees while they are on the job, companies are not legally responsible for what their contractors do.
However, while Lyft claims that the drivers who use their system to get riders are not employees, the company sure treats them like employees. Lyft exerts lots of control over when its drivers work, limiting their drivers' ability to create their own workspace and procedures, and demanding its drivers follow certain protocols in order to take riders through the Lyft system. This makes it seem as if Lyft is calling its drivers independent contractors, but treating them like employees, in order to cherry pick the perks of both categories while avoiding the problems of each.
The Importance of Implicating Lyft in the Crash
Showing that Lyft treats its drivers like employees and not like independent contractors can matter if you have been hit by a Lyft driver in Baltimore. If you can show that the driver should be treated as an employee, it will be far easier to get Lyft to pay its fair share of the compensation you are owed. If it stands that the driver was just an independent contractor, you will only be able to recover compensation from the driver, who is very unlikely to have the means to pay for a full recovery.
The only way that the driver is likely to be able to pay for all of the costs associated with your injury is if they are covered by the type of insurance necessary for the situation. Not all car insurance policies are equal, and professional drivers—including people working for Lyft—need to have insurance that takes into account the fact that they are being paid to drive someone somewhere. Not all Lyft drivers have this insurance, putting you at serious risk of being left woefully under-compensated for your injuries.
Baltimore Lyft Accident Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
If you or someone you love has been hit by a Lyft driver and suffered serious injuries, you need the legal help of the Baltimore personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian. We can fight for your rights and interests both in and out of the courtroom, including getting Lyft to pay for its role in the crash that hurt you.
Contact us online to get started on your case today.