Lyft Gains Popularity in Windy City
Lyft, one of the original rideshare companies, launched its services in 2012 in San Francisco. Shortly after, the service was launched in the City of Chicago, becoming the fourth major market for the company and the first beyond the West Coast. Since then, it has grown in immense popularity and usage, but it has not been without issues or controversy.
The app has grown in such popularity that a monthly subscription service is now being offered for avid users, as of October 2018. By paying $299/month, you will receive 30 rides per month, up to $15 per ride. If you go over the allocated amount, either in pricing or the number of rides, you pay the difference. The Windy City is one of the select markets the subscription service is currently being tested in.
In 2019, the City of Chicago implemented a price increase on the fee paid to the City by all ridesharing companies. An additional $0.05 per ride brings the total fee to $0.72 per ride. The first of its kind in the country, the fee goes towards improving the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Specifically, the $0.05 increase will be used to upgrade and install video camera systems at CTA stations across the city.
While Lyft has been helpful to those needing to get to their destination quickly and efficiently and contributing to improvements in the City’s infrastructure, the abundance of drivers has overwhelmed Chicago to the point that rideshare and taxi drivers are teaming up to ask for regulations of rideshare operators with the end goal being more income for drivers and less congestion on the streets of Chicago.
While proposed only a few months ago, it is not unlike other regulations emerging in big cities across the country, namely New York City. While it may be considered restrictive, it will alleviate some of the congestion issues that have arisen as the result of the high demand for Lyft, but not all, including car accidents and assaults at the hands of Lyft drivers or other Lyft passengers.
What is Lyft, Exactly?
Originally called Zimride, the name was changed to Lyft Inc. following a need to differentiate Lyft’s offerings from that of the project by the original name, Zimride, which allowed users to plan long-distance road trips with others. Lyft, on the other hand, is a rideshare company which builds its business off of providing rides to individuals to their desired destinations. By downloading the app, users can request a driver using GPS locating technology. The request will ‘ping’ the request to drivers waiting for a pickup, alert them of your location, and in a few minutes, a driver will arrive to take you to your destination. The simplicity and effectiveness of Lyft have gained immense success over the years. “Getting a Lyft” is now synonymous for getting a ride to your destination, regardless of the way you are getting there – by Lyft, another rideshare app, or taxi.
But, the growing industry is not without issues. A new area for growth brings an increased risk of injuries and incidents that happen as a result. For years, parents told their children not to accept rides from strangers, yet this is exactly what Lyft embodies. While most rides requested from Lyft operate without incident, there is always the possibility that the unexpected could occur.
What if you are in an accident while either a passenger or driver of a Lyft? What if you are assaulted by another passenger or driver? What if you are harassed or discriminated against?
What Should I Do After a Lyft Car Accident?
You’ve just been in an accident, and after you call 911, there are a series of things you should do to cover your bases, including staying at the scene of the accident.
- Like we mentioned above, call 911. If it’s not an emergency, meaning no one is suffering from life-threatening injuries and the accident is not blocking traffic, call the Chicago Police non-emergency number. If you are within city limits, dial 311 to be connected with a dispatcher. If outside city limits, dial (312) 746-6000.
- While waiting for law enforcement and medical personnel, report the accident to Lyft immediately. This will create a record of the accident and confirm it occurred while the driver was operating on the Lyft app. But, if a Lyft representative tries to talk with you further, hold off on having that conversation until you consult with our team of Chicago Lyft accident lawyers.
- Take pictures of the accident. Include any street signs, barriers, or other landmarks hit during the collision. Take pictures of the damage to all cars involved. While it may seem like a small detail, take a picture of the license plate of each car, especially if one is a Lyft driver.
- Document all information. This can include the names and driver license numbers of all individuals involved in the accident, the names and badge numbers of responding police officers, and a detailed account of how the accident occurred.
- Do not admit fault at any point.
- Obtain a copy of the police report when it becomes available.
- Contact our team of Chicago Lyft accident lawyers to help navigate the complicated legal process. We are here to help and answer any questions you may have.
Can I Sue the Lyft Driver for Negligence?
Yes, you can sue the Lyft driver IF they were at fault for the accident. There are four things that must be proved in order for the lawsuit to move forward:
- The Lyft driver owed you a duty of care to keep you safe or out of harm’s way,
- The Lyft driver failed to uphold this duty,
- That failure was the cause of your injuries, and
- The extent of your injuries.
If you were injured in a Lyft accident, it is important to contact a knowledgeable attorney for advice on how to move forward. The experienced lawyer will help guide you through the process of filing a Lyft lawsuit. However, each lawsuit is dependent on the particular situation and is evaluated on a case by case basis.
Sexually Assaulted in a Lyft
After analyzing federal court databases and county police reports, CNN reported that 18 Lyft drivers have allegedly raped, forcibly touched, or kidnapped passengers. While this is a nationwide statistic, and the numbers of Uber sexual assaults are much higher – 120, it is not a statistic that should be ignored. While you can take all the precautions to protect yourself from danger, you cannot control the actions of others, including a Lyft driver.
Lyft has not released data collected on assaults, but claims that the company does not properly screen drivers have arisen, partly due to the increase in assaults on passengers by drivers. Chicago, specifically, requires all drivers undergo a background check prior to driving, but there have been allegations that Lyft has allowed some drivers to slip through the cracks. In 2017, Lyft acknowledged that a driver had passed a background check despite the fact that he had a federal conviction for aiding terrorism. Lyft quickly deactivated the driver and apologized to the City of Chicago, but the damage was done. If one person could pass approval despite failing to meet requirements, there could be others.
If you were a victim of a sexual assault by a Lyft driver or even another Lyft passenger, it is important to contact an attorney immediately.
Assaulted by Another Passenger
Following the sexual assault conversation, a passenger could also be assaulted by another passenger while in a Lyft. In bigger cities, such as Chicago, Lyft Pool is an option for getting to your destination. The concept allows passengers to split a Lyft if going to destinations nearby one another. It is a cheaper option and also alleviates congestion on the streets by carpooling. However, the risk you take is sharing that Lyft with a person you do not know. While most people are kind and welcoming, you cannot predict the behavior of another individual.
If you find yourself in a situation where you fear for your safety or were assaulted, it is important to immediately request the Lyft driver take you to a safe location where authorities can be alerted of the assault. After filing a police report, contact an attorney to help you through the legal process. At TorHoerman Law, we fight for the rights of those unjustly injured by another, and we will fight for you. You do not have to face this alone.
Impaired, Under the Influence Lyft Driver
Driving while impaired is never okay, especially in the scenario of a Lyft driver transporting a passenger, but unfortunately, it is not an anomaly. Accidents of this nature are starting to become more common despite the increased awareness that drinking and driving, or driving while under the influence of a drug, is dangerous and potentially deadly, not only to yourself but to others on the road.
In June 2018, a 23-year-old passenger of a Lyft was killed and another passenger was seriously injured when their Lyft driver and another vehicle were involved in a head-on collision. The Lyft driver was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of a drug while the other driver was charged with a felony count of aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death and misdemeanor. A lawsuit filed by the injured passenger was filed and is currently pending in the court system.
Lyft Driver Hit a Pedestrian
You’re in a Lyft and before you know it, you have been in an accident on the busy streets of Chicago, but this is not a typical accident – your driver hit a pedestrian or bicyclist. These types of accident can occur in three different ways:
- Lyft driver failed to yield to the pedestrian or bicyclist
- Lyft driver pulled over in front of a bicyclist, throwing them off-balance
- Lyft driver opened the door in front of a bicyclist, injuring them in the process
In this case, it is important to follow the same guidelines that you would after being in an accident with another vehicle. Call 911 immediately and check on the injured individual. While waiting for law enforcement personnel, document all evidence and take pictures. Report the accident to Lyft to document the time of the accident. Contact an attorney that specializes in Lyft accidents to further guide you on next steps.
Insurance and the Three Lyft Periods – What do they Mean?
Insurance coverage while driving for Lyft is a complicated subject, mainly because many do not realize that there have to be certain rules in place before insurance will cover any accidents that occur while driving for the company. If you do not have a rideshare insurance policy or a policy with a rideshare endorsement, insurance will not cover the accident. While Lyft does have an insurance policy in place for drivers, there are stipulations and it does not cover everything. The insurance provided by the company can be explained in three phases.
- Phase One: A vehicle is being used and the rideshare app is active. In this case, Lyft only provides contingent liability coverage. The coverage amounts are $50,000/person and $100,000/accident for injury liability, and $25,000 in total property damage. Contingent means that you will need to make a claim to your insurance provider first, and if that claim is denied, Lyft will take over. However, their coverage does not extend to any injuries your sustain, damage to your car, or injuries that result from an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist – that will need to be covered by your insurance company.
- Phase Two: A driver has received a transportation request but has not yet picked up the passenger. Lyft does provide a $1 million liability insurance policy during this period, and while they also offer comprehensive and collision, it is contingent. You will have to make a claim to your insurance provider, and if your insurance denies the claim, Lyft will then step in on your behalf. But, it comes with a considerable deductible – a whopping $2,500.
- Phase Three: A driver has picked up a passenger and is en route to their destination, or a passenger has arrived at their destination and is in the process of exiting the vehicle. Phase three operates on the same insurance policy as phase two.
While a driver will be covered by Lyft’s insurance in both phase two and phase three, it would be wise to talk with your insurance company prior to driving for Lyft to ensure you are properly covered at all times. If you don’t and you are in an accident, you could be held accountable for more than you bargained for – effectively making the money you earned while driving for Lyft, null and void because you’ll pay out of pocket for things like repairing the damage to your car.
And, many insurance companies do not allow personal insurance policies to cover Lyft drivers because it’s considered a commercial entity. A special insurance policy or endorsement is needed, particularly in Chicago where all rideshare drivers must abide by the “transportation network provider” rules established by the TNP Ordinance.
As rideshare technology grows and amasses usage from more and more individuals, insurance companies will also need to keep up with the growing changes.
What Can Be Compensated?
The damages you incur as a result of a Lyft car accident, or even an assault, can include more than just physical ailments. Often times, an individual suffers from emotional distress. Damages can include:
- Car repair bills
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
Chicago Lyft Accident Lawyers Specializing in Personal Injury Lawsuits
At TorHoerman Law, our Chicago Lyft accident lawyers fight for the victims of Lyft accidents. Years of experience in personal injury lawsuits allow us to provide top-notch legal assistance. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 312-313-2273. Our legal team will be there to help you through the legal process every step of the way.
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