New York City is known for its taxicabs. Because many locals choose to travel by taxi, it comes as no surprise that rideshare companies such as Lyft are thriving in New York. People looking for rides at a discounted rate can download the Lyft app and request a car right away. But, this service does have its drawbacks.
The biggest chance you take with Lyft is the uncertainty over what happens if you're injured in a car accident. Getting compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other damages can become a challenge because Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors and not company employees. Lyft works hard to protect its $1 million per-accident liability policy, and won’t give it out without a fight.
The experienced New York City car accident attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, can help you better understand your legal rights and options in such cases. Call us at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation today.
When you get a ride in a Lyft vehicle, you are in a car owned and maintained by the individual driver, not the company. It's not always clear if the driver has been recently screened for drugs or alcohol or when the vehicle was last inspected.
Lyft drivers are required to purchase insurance for their vehicle, but their policy may not cover commercial use. The moment the driver accepts money from a passenger, it is a commercial venture and isn't covered by most personal insurance policies. Before allowing them to operate in New York, officials required Lyft to maintain a commercial excess liability policy, which covers all vehicles operated by drivers that work with Lyft. Here is how the coverage breaks down:
- Lyft app is on, driver mode is off: Any crashes during this time will be covered by the driver’s personal insurance policy.
- Lyft app is on, driver mode is on, no ride yet accepted: Any crashes during this time will be covered by Lyft’s contingent liability coverage. The maximums are $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
- Lyft app is on, driver mode is on, ride accepted/transporting passenger: Any crashes during this time will be covered by Lyft’s commercial liability policy. The maximum is $1 million per accident, in addition to any personal commercial policies the driver has already. During this time, Lyft also provides uninsured/underinsured coverage if an at-fault driver (not the Lyft driver) causes the accident.
The benefit of taxis? Their drivers are screened by the company, and must undergo state-required background checks. Though New York passed legislation in 2019 requiring stricter standards for limo companies, Lyft drivers are still independent contractors and loosely regulated. What this means for consumers is that Lyft DOES NOT have to follow the same rules and regulations of taxi and limo services. In fact, a recent news story from Chicago revealed that a Lyft driver was suspended following a violent confrontation with a passenger, which the company did not report to the city. A week later, the same driver, working for Uber, kicked another man in the head, killing him. Lyft was hit with the maximum penalty: a $10,000 fine.
Lyft began offering services in Brooklyn and Queens in July of 2014, but there are still many concerns and questions about their business practices. Organizations such as New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission say Lyft must verify the qualifications of their drivers and vehicles. Lyft argues that it is just a rideshare company and licensing and base-station rules don't apply to their company.
In 2018, the TLC put a freeze on issuing new licenses for for-hire vehicles for 12 months, and extended that cap for another year on August 7, 2019. It also decided Lyft and Uber drivers will only be allowed to spend 31% of their time cruising without a passenger below 96th Street in Manhattan (before that, it was 41%). Prior to this, a special “congestion charge” of $2.75 was added for each trip below 60th Street. In December 2018, city officials also introduced a minimum wage for drivers.
Lyft president John Zimmer said these regulations "create negative consequences for both drivers and riders," in response.
Though Lyft has insurance policy guidelines on their website, getting that money isn’t always so simple. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Lyft car accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for damages such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Permanent injuries
- Pain and suffering
But Lyft is a big corporation, with an army of lawyers to find loopholes for not paying you what you are owed. Our qualified NY rideshare car accident lawyers can help you pursue your legal rights, and we have experience going after negligent rideshare companies. Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 to set up your free consultation today.
Joseph Stoduto was able to obtain a settlement in the amount of $275,000 on behalf of the plaintiff, a thirty-nine year old man from Kings County, NY.
After jury selection, Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin partner, Jason Rubin settled a pedestrian knockdown automobile accident case for $225,000.00.