Lyft Gaining Recognition in STL
Rideshare companies have taken the roads to the roads by storm, becoming increasingly common even in smaller cities. Companies such as Uber and Lyft have found a market by driving clients to their destinations in their personal vehicles. While these services are becoming ever more popular, they are not without risk. While we often know what to do if we are in a car accident, what if the car accident happens while riding in a Lyft? What if the Lyft driver physically or sexually assaults you? What if your Lyft driver discriminates against you? If any of these situations have happened to you, you should contact a Lyft accident attorney St. Louis immediately.
St. Louis has a slew of transportation options, both public and private. From the MetroLink, private taxis, limousine services, personal vehicles, walking, biking, riding a scooter, or requesting a ride from a ridesharing service such as Lyft. Between the students at Washington University and Saint Louis University, and the massive crowds that turn out for Cardinals and Blues games, it is easy to understand how the ease of Lyft is preferred to public transportation and personal vehicles. While there are clear benefits to Lyft and other rideshare services, there are also clear risks. These risks include:
- Accidents involving other vehicles, property, or pedestrians
- Sexual assault or misconduct
- Discrimination, harassment, and general mistreatment
Lyft in St. Louis, Missouri
Like most smart technology we find these days, rideshare technology is still new. Rideshare technology allows users to download an app and simply request a ride. Using GPS tracking technology, the app finds and notifies an active driver near the user. That driver can then accept the user as a passenger through the app, and use their GPS location to pick them up. The GPS tracks the ride and digitally charges the user. The entire process relies on only a few taps on a phone screen. Even though the process of requesting a ride and getting in the Lyft is simple, there is plenty of room for human error, and with that human error, there is a risk. Lyft drivers are not professional drivers. By getting in a Lyft you are potentially at risk of being involved in a car accident, becoming the victim of sexual assault, or being discriminated against. You are at risk of anything that could happen when you get in the car with a stranger.
Lyft was the second rideshare company to arrive on the scene in St. Louis. They began offering rides in April of 2017. Since coming to St. Louis, Lyft has partnered with Chaifetz Arena, Lambert International Airport, the Cardinals and the Blues. It is now possible to be picked up directly from a St. Louis University basketball game or concert at Chaifetz Arena by requesting that Lyft pick you up from a designated area. Lyft also partnered with St. Louis Lambert International Airport to promote their services. Not only is there a designated area for Lyft drivers to pick up and drop off passengers, but Lyft advertises promotional codes for discounted rates throughout the building. Lyft often runs promotions and offers discounts, which helps them become more appealing to potential passengers.
Ridesharing technology and services like Lyft have become part of our daily life. As it continues to grow, it will only become more popular. Knowing that Lyft will increase in popularity, it is imperative that all are made aware of the risks and take precautions to avoid dangerous situations.
Qualifications to be a Lyft Driver
To become a Lyft driver in the city of St. Louis, potential drivers must meet a series of requirements and provide only a handful of documents. Potential Lyft drivers must provide their driver’s license, personal vehicle insurance, a photo, and their vehicle registration. They must be age 21 or older. Vehicle requirements for Lyft vary on a state by state and city by city basis. In St. Louis, their vehicle must be 2007 or newer. Lyft vehicles are required to have four doors, and a minimum of five seatbelts.
Insurance surrounding rideshare companies is murky and complex, varying from state to state. While Lyft carries $1 million in liability insurance, this insurance only covers certain situations. For example, this policy may cover a Lyft driver who is carrying passengers, but that coverage goes away the second the passengers exit the vehicle. It does not cover the driver while they wait for a ride request, and does not cover them while they are en route to the passenger. In Missouri, individuals approved to drive for Lyft are not required to purchase commercial insurance. This means that the driver must rely on the liability insurance provided by Lyft, and the driver’s personal insurance. Private insurance companies often require notice of that individual’s plan to start driving for Lyft. Upon this notice, insurance companies may deny the individual coverage. To deal with this issue, niche insurance companies that specialize in rideshare insurance policies have been popping up. These insurance companies provide drivers with low-cost insurance to fill the gap between personal insurance policies from private companies and Lyft’s liability insurance.
The lack of clarity regarding insurance is concerning for passengers of Lyft. As a cautionary measure, you should ask your Lyft driver about their insurance to make sure that you are covered in the event of an accident or injury.
Qualifications to Request a Lyft Ride
Lyft requires all app users to be of 18 years of age when they download the app and request a ride. Minors 17 and under are not allowed to ride in any Lyft vehicle without an adult present. In order to prevent questioning regarding your age, carry either your driver’s license or a state issued ID.
Rideshare companies like Lyft were not legally approved in the state of Missouri until April 2017 when Missouri Governor Greitens signed HB 130. HB 130 allows Lyft to operate legally in the state of Missouri without excessive regulations and restrictions. HB 130 also allowed for the implementation of standard requirements. Since HB 130 passed, Lyft drivers have all had to pay a licensing fee, pass a background check, and purchase vehicle liability insurance. Since the passage of HB 130, St. Louis and Kansas City have been given permission to audit Lyft drivers. This legislature is not only regulations, but it also exempts Lyft from paying local and municipal taxes from everywhere in the cities except airports. Airports charge rideshare services as if they are taxi drivers.
Airports in Missouri have specific legislation when it comes to rideshare services. Before 2017, drivers could only drop-off passengers at airports like St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Lyft drivers were prohibited from picking up passengers. Uber was only allowed to pick up passengers who requested an Uber Black town car. In the fall of 2017, Lyft reached an agreement with Lambert Airport where each pickup and drop off at the airport must pay a $3 fee. In addition to this fee, Lyft must pay the airport $15,000 every two years.
Lyft Driver Rights
Lyft Drivers are contracted drivers. They are required to adhere to certain policies put in place by Lyft, but they are able to make choices regarding their businesses. They reserve the right to cancel rides with passengers should they feel uncomfortable. This is not illegal and does not violate Lyft’s company policies.
Lyft passengers must be 18 or older to ride without an adult. As this is Lyft’s company policy, drivers are allowed to ask for proof of age for anyone they suspect is under the age of 18.
Although Lyft discourages drivers from taking calls while transporting passengers, drivers are in fact allowed to take personal phone calls. Lyft drivers are not allowed to have their family and friends ride with them as they transport passengers. Driver’s cannot bring their personal pets in their Lyft, as some passengers may have allergies or simply be uncomfortable around animals. It is up to the discretion of the Lyft driver if their passengers bring their personal pets, and drivers are allowed to cancel rides if they arrive and find that the potential passenger brought their pet with them. The only animals allowed in a Lyft regardless of driver opinion are service animals.
Other Lyft Passengers
As Lyft grew, they expanded their rideshare options beyond the traditional one driver per request. Multiple options such as Lyft Lux and Lyft Black became available. Soon, the cheapest option became the shared Lyft. Shared Lyfts allows multiple different passengers to be picked up as long as they are along the same general route and heading in the same general direction. Costs are split between all of the passengers that are picked up.
While sharing a Lyft can save passenger’s money, it can lead to dangerous situations. Other passengers may be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
If you believe entering a Lyft with a stranger could result in harm, opt for using Lyft without unknown passengers. These may cost a little extra, but only you know if your safety and comfort are worth it. If you do choose to request a ride with Lyft Line, but feel uncomfortable or afraid upon entering the vehicle, remove yourself from the situation and cancel your ride. Paying Lyft’s cancellation fee is a small price to pay for safety.
Lyft Rating Systems
After taking a Lyft, you are able to leave a review of your experience with your driver. However, Lyft uses a two-way rating system. This means that your Lyft driver can rate you as a passenger as well. Should either of your rate the other three stars or below, Lyft’s algorithm prevents that match from ever happening again.
Leaving a review for your driver may not make a difference if you endured a dangerous situation, but it could prevent other Lyft passengers from experiencing the same situation, and could result in penalties for the driver. Lyft monitors reviews left by passengers and drivers, and should either party receive too many negative reviews, the party causing the issues may be removed from the app.
What are my Steps After a Car Accident?
If you are injured in a car accident while traveling in a Lyft, start by making sure everyone involved in the accident is okay, then move to a safe location. Once you are safe, contact an emergency response team by calling 911. Take pictures of the vehicle, and any damage you may see. Be sure to get the name of your Lyft driver before you leave the scene, but do not leave the scene until cleared to do so by the authorities.
While these details are important to a case, only gather this information if you are able to. Do not worsen an injury by trying to move to gather information and evidence.
I was Assaulted in a Lyft. What are my Rights?
Whether this is a sexual assault or physical assault, the first step is to get to a safe place as soon as possible. Once you are safe, immediately call 911 to report the assault to the police. Once the police arrive provide them with all of the information pertaining to the assault. There is no information that should be left out.
After reporting the incident to the police, it is important that you receive medical care to diagnose and treat your injuries. Be sure to document any injuries you may have with pictures, as these will be important for a potential case.
Discriminated Against or Harrassed in a Lyft
If you were discriminated against in a Lyft on the basis of race, color, gender, gender identity, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, age, or sexual orientation, Lyft’s Anti-Discrimination Policy has been violated. The first thing to do in this situation is to safely remove yourself from the vehicle and get to a safe place. If you are unable to exit the vehicle, and only if possible, attempt to record the perpetrator committing the discrimination.
Per Lyft’s Anti-Discrimination Policies, discrimination by Lyft drivers or passengers to Lyft passengers and vice versa is strictly prohibited and can lead to the dissolution of the perpetrator’s account.
Hiring a Lyft Accident Attorney St. Louis
If you were injured, assaulted, or discriminated against while using Lyft’s rideshare services, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact TorHoerman Law’s team of highly experienced personal injury attorneys to see if you qualify for a Lyft accident attorney St. Louis.
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