North Carolina Lyft Accidents Attorney
Car Crash Lawyer Helping Injured People Hold Lyft Responsible in Raleigh and Elsewhere in NC
Like Uber, Lyft is a rideshare program that offers passengers a way to arrive at the location of their choice by using a mobile device to book and pay for a private car ride. Lyft drivers are independent contractors who pick up and transport riders, much like taxis. Unlike taxi companies, however, Lyft and Uber are not highly regulated, meaning that their drivers are not as vetted, nor are their vehicles as rigorously inspected. Raleigh car accident attorney Carl Nagle has helped many victims who have been hurt by a driver working for a ridesharing company, such as Lyft or Uber.
As the founding attorney of Nagle & Associates, Mr. Nagle has broad experience in the automobile insurance industry. Before deciding to focus entirely on the rights of injured individuals and their families, Mr. Nagle worked as an insurance claims adjuster and insurance defense attorney. He understands the particular challenges presented by insurance companies that seek to deny or minimize payments to accident victims. At Nagle & Associates, we are proud to help Lyft accident victims throughout North Carolina, including in Asheville, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem.
Who Is Liable When a Rideshare Driver Causes an Accident?
When Lyft drivers cause accidents, it is difficult to identify and contact the proper insurance company that owes victims damages. The Police Report will show the driver’s personal auto insurance information. However, if the driver is actively involved in a rideshare journey, that coverage does NOT apply. The exclusions in the North Carolina auto policy specifically exclude liability coverage whenever the driver is carrying people or property for a fee. Thus, Lyft drivers are not covered by their own car insurance policies.
Uber and Lyft recently changed their insurance carriers, and they now have insurance partners that share the United States territory for their rideshare drivers. For Lyft drivers, liability coverage is with Allstate or Liberty Mutual. These carriers often change so you may find another insurance company involved if you are a rideshare accident victim. Lyft strives to keep its main website up to date so it’s best to visit Lyft.com to determine which liability insurers they currently have coverage with.
In general, you first must identify the driver’s on/off duty status to determine which insurance company will owe for your injury claims and property damage claims. Here are some examples:
- When an on-duty Lyft driver causes an accident: Rideshare drivers are officially ”on duty” when they login to their company’s app and when they pick up, transport, or drop off passengers. The rideshare company’s liability insurance policy will apply if their Lyft driver causes an accident while on duty.
- When an off-duty Lyft driver causes an accident: If a North Carolina Lyft driver causes a wreck while they are not signed in to the Lyft app, their personal auto insurance policy will cover the victims’ claims. This is the policy that will appear in the at-fault driver information section of the Police Report.
Victims Hurt in a Lyft Accident Can Pursue a Claim for Compensation
Establishing liability is the first step for victims of a Lyft accident who are pursuing a personal injury claim. Liability means legal responsibility to pay for innocent victims’ injury claims. To show liability, a victim’s attorney gathers evidence to prove all driver errors and to identify all parties who share responsibility for causing the collision. This evidence may take many forms, including police reports, witness testimony, crash scene photos, analysis of vehicle damage/points of impact, crash reconstruction reports, and any other evidence that shows all factors that contributed to causing the Lyft accident.
All drivers must exercise great care, and Lyft drivers who fail to protect the safety of their passengers or other drivers can be held legally accountable. For example, drivers are expected to abide by all traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and proceeding with caution through intersections. A Lyft driver’s conduct affects not only their passengers but also other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists sharing the road. Once a victim has proven the errors and fault of the driver who caused an accident, they can then collect money damages.
North Carolina has enacted a bill to regulate transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft. TNCs rely on a smartphone app to match customers with drivers. According to state law, service begins when a driver accepts a ride request on the online-enabled application. Service is considered complete when the driver completes the transaction on the platform or when the passengers leave the vehicle.
As a less regulated transportation service provider, automobile insurance coverage issues may present a challenge to victims pursuing legal claims against Lyft drivers and Lyft as a company. The timing of a collision involving a Lyft vehicle is important to assessing insurance coverage. This is because insurance coverage changes depending on whether the driver is simply on the app waiting for a passenger to become available, if she has accepted a ride and is en route to pick up service, or has a paying passenger in the Lyft vehicle.
Lyft provides insurance coverage once Lyft drivers have logged into the app and indicated that they are ready to accept passengers. While the Lyft driver is waiting for a rideshare customer but has not accepted a ride, bodily injury liability coverage under the Lyft insurance policy is $50,000 per person and $100,000 per occurrence. This means that no individual victim can collect more than $50,000, and the total coverage for all victims of a single collision is $100,000. Bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage increase when “en route” to pick up a fare. Once the Lyft driver is en route for pickup or when they have passengers on board, Lyft’s insurance coverage limit goes up to $1 million in personal injury liability. Again, it is important to note that if a driver has not signed into the rideshare app at the time of the accident, Lyft’s insurance partners will not provide coverage. The driver’s personal auto liability policy will cover accidents during this period.
Lyft drivers are currently deemed independent contractors. Thus, Lyft as a corporate business entity is not legally liable for their driver’s errors. However, Lyft does provide insurance coverage for their drivers To hold Lyft liable and responsible for a Lyft driver’s collision, the victim must show that Lyft was independently negligent and therefore responsible for causing the subject collision. These are very rare cases and Lyft is typically able to avoid being independently liable for rideshare collisions involving their drivers.
Victims pursuing a legal claim against a Lyft driver should know that the company may also be insulated from liability because its drivers do not operate company-owned vehicles. However, the company understands that as a business, it must provide a level of insurance to protect against harm suffered by third parties who would otherwise not be able to recover damages from drivers.
For On-Duty Lyft Drivers, Available Insurance Coverage Depends on Whether A Rideshare Journey is in Progress
As noted above, for Lyft drivers who are on the App and available to accept a ride, but who have not yet received, accepted, or started a rideshare journey, liability coverage is limited to $50,000.00 per victim and $100,000 per accident. Thus, regardless of how serious the victim’s injuries are, the limits of coverage for all injury claims are rather low for drivers who are waiting for assignments. For drivers who are on the way to pick up a passenger, or who are in the process of transporting passengers, liability coverage available for accident victims is $1,000,000.00.
In serious injury cases with high coverage limits, the best insurance adjusters are assigned, and their sole goal is to minimize victims’ claim payments. Carl Nagle is a former claims adjuster and he knows that insurance companies always seek to avoid paying claims or to minimize all injury payments. In these cases, aggressive personal injury lawyers can dramatically increase the settlement you collect. Injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no fees unless AND until the lawyer collects money for you. In most cases, the lawyer more than pays his own fees by building proper medical evidence, presenting the strongest case, and negotiating toward a settlement that reflects the full value of all injury claims. Also, personal injury lawyers handle all paperwork and all insurance claim filings so you can focus on your medical recovery and leave the homework to your attorney.
What if I am a Passenger in the Lyft Vehicle?
If a rideshare passenger is injured in an accident involving a Lyft driver, the $1,000,000.00 policy applies to pay your injury claims, even if the Lyft driver did not cause the collision! Since a rideshare journey was underway, the higher coverage limit applies if the Lyft driver causes the collision. For the Lyft driver, if they did not cause the accident, they can present claims against the other driver AND they also have the benefit of $1,000,000.00 in Underinsured Motorist coverage on their rideshare policy. Lyft passengers also have this Underinsured Motorist coverage available to pay over-and-above the at-fault driver’s liability policy in cases where the rideshare driver did not cause the accident. If the Lyft driver did cause the accident, the rideshare customer has coverage up to $1,000,000.00 to cover claims for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and all past and future pain and suffering.
What Compensation Can You Expect?
Settlements vary depending on your circumstances, the severity of your injuries, and how long the injuries last. In many cases, individuals recover compensation related to the following:
- medical expenses, including payment for anticipated future medical treatment,
- lost wages including past lost earnings and future lost earning capacity.
- payment for home modifications, medical devices, and other equipment needed to help the victim adapt to disability arising from injuries.
- payment to the victim for having to endure scarring and/or disfigurement due to injuries.
- tax-free payment for past and future pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, loss of ability to participate in hobbies/activities/work, etc.
Car accidents can be overwhelming and traumatic, leaving you with many unanswered questions and financial concerns. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a Lyft driver, there’s an additional complexity when it comes to identifying the proper insurance carrier and determining what the Lyft driver’s status was at the time of the crash.
When one of the parties to the accident was operating a rideshare vehicle, there are two additional questions that must be answered in every case: 1) Whose insurance company do you recover from? The driver’s insurance? Or the rideshare company’s? 2) What was the status of the rideshare driver – was he waiting to accept an assignment or was a rideshare journey in progress?
With an experienced personal injury attorney on your side, you don’t have to figure these issues out on your own.
Discuss Your Lyft Accident Case with a Raleigh NC Lyft Accident Attorney
Victims of an accident involving a Lyft driver will be more likely to recover compensation for the full value of their claim by engaging the experienced and capable legal representation of Raleigh lawyer Carl Nagle. At Nagle & Associates, unlike many law firms, our legal fees are only 25% rather than 33% of an approved settlement award. We assist people hurt in Lyft accidents throughout North Carolina, including in Asheville, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilmington, Charlotte, Hickory, and other communities in Mecklenburg, Forsyth, Durham, Wake, Guilford, Cumberland, Catawba, and New Hanover Counties. Call us today for an immediate free consultation with a motor vehicle collision attorney. We can be reached online or by calling (866) 944-4257.