A fatal accident involving a Lyft driver over the weekend has raised questions about the liability of the company in accidents involving the vehicles used for this app-based transportation system. Known as “ridesharing,” this system allows anyone who has downloaded the app on a smartphone to summon a ride and pay for transportation throughout the city. The drivers are private car owners who presumably have their own insurance.
However, there has long been concern that there is little to no accountability on the part of the company for ensuring that drivers are safe and qualified or even insured. Cab companies in particular have been extremely critical of the system, complaining that their drivers are required to meet stringent licensing and insurance requirements that Lyft drivers are not.
Death in Sacramento Crash: Is Lyft At Fault?
After a Halloween party on Friday evening, 24-year-old Yolo County resident Shane Holland used the Lyft app to secure a ride home from a local driver. Holland was killed when the driver crashed during heavy rain on Interstate 80 in an accident that also injured the driver and another passenger.
Is Lyft at fault?
The 2 ½-year-old business, based in San Francisco, has not had to face a lawsuit yet due to wrongful death. In fact, similar companies such as Uber have also been extremely fortunate in avoiding crashes up to this point, although accidents involving ridesharing drivers are not unheard of. The law of averages, of course, dictates that at some point a rideshare driver would be involved in a crash and the question of driver and company liability would arise.
When hired taxicabs are involved in a crash, the liability issue is relatively simple. Because cab drivers operate as either independent contractors or hired employees, the employer is assumed to be liable for the actions of the driver. Cab companies carry insurance specifically for this purpose.
However, Lyft and other rideshare programs have so far escaped the question of whether their insurance coverage is sufficient or whether they are even liable. Under California law, an agency may be created when a company advertises the services of an individual, even if the individual is not technically an employee of the company. The question of whether Lyft drivers should be treated as agents of the company is a question that will no doubt be hotly debated in the future as these cases arise in court.
Collecting Damages From A Car Crash
In the meantime, those who are injured in car accidents must try to collect damages for their injuries. This may include payment of medical bills, sums for pain and suffering or even the damages associated with wrongful death if the victim is a family member.
A personal injury attorney may be able to assist the victims of a car accident in collecting these damages, either through a driver’s insurance policy or through a company’s. Victims of car crashes should consult an experienced personal injury attorney immediately in order to protect their rights.