Ride-sharing services, like Lyft, enjoy a high degree of popularity in Las Vegas, both among tourists and Las Vegans needing transportation. Lyft rides are less expensive than taxis, and many folks view Lyfts as more convenient, as hailing takes place over an app.
What if you or a loved one is injured as a result of a Lyft accident in Las Vegas? You are just as likely to suffer injury or death in a Lyft as in any other vehicle—perhaps more so, as Lyft drivers may face the temptation to speed or tailgate to make more money or to drive distractedly on the Strip and elsewhere.
To top that off, Lyft accidents are far more complicated than other types of car accidents when it comes to determining responsibility and compensation for accident victims, both of which are crucially important if you’re to receive just compensation for your injuries. It’s even more important than usual to consult an experienced Las Vegas Lyft accident attorney, such as Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC, in Las Vegas, if you’re in a Lyft accident.
Who is responsible for an injury-causing or fatal Lyft accident?
If you’re hurt or a loved one is killed in a Lyft accident, who is responsible?
Determining responsibility in a ride-share accident follows the same principles as determining responsibility in any other type of vehicle accident. The person or organization that caused the accident is responsible for the resulting damages. A driver who is speeding too fast to stop in time if the car ahead brakes, for example, is likely responsible for that accident.
Drivers are not the only potentially responsible parties in accidents, of course. Mechanical failure and inadequate maintenance and repair of a car can also cause accidents. In these cases, car manufacturers or mechanics may bear responsibility for the accidents. Pedestrians and bicyclists can also bear responsibility for car accidents, if they dart in front of the Lyft, for example.
Victims need to determine the causes of their accidents before seeking any compensation. At times, lawyers work with investigators to determine the causes of accidents, if the causes aren’t immediately clear.
Once fault is determined, the law is clear. Nevada is a fault state for car accidents, so injured parties can pursue economic compensation from the at-fault parties, either by approaching their insurance companies or filing personal injury lawsuits.
If the Lyft driver is at fault: Lyft’s insurance or the driver’s?
If a Lyft driver is at fault for an accident, the issue of approaching the insurance company or bringing a lawsuit becomes more complex. Why? Because at certain points in a Lyft ride, the driver’s insurance operates, and at other points, Lyft’s own insurance does.
This is profoundly different from a regular car accident, in which the driver’s insurance generally always applies if the driver is at fault. It is also profoundly different from a taxi or limousine accident, because the taxi or limousine company’s insurance liability is also more clear.
The liability of rideshare services is also a relatively new area of law, with evolving statutes and regulations.
But make no mistake about it: Although riders tend to think of Lyft and other ride-sharing companies as cheaper than taxis, they are not legally the same as taxis if you are in an accident.
Why? Because taxi and limousine drivers are usually employees of the taxi and limousine companies. Despite ongoing legal challenges, Lyft does not classify drivers as employees of Lyft, but rather as independent contractors.
Whether Lyft accident victims approach the driver’s insurance or Lyft’s insurance for damage compensation depends on where the Lyft driver is in the course of a shift. The stages are as follows:
Period 1: No ride-hailing activity by the driver. If the driver is neither carrying passengers nor actively looking for them, the driver is in Period 1. In this period, the driver’s personal insurance applies, not Lyft’s.
Nevada requires rideshare drivers to carry insurance of at least $25,000 per person per accident for injuries or fatalities ($50,000 for two people) and $20,000 for property damage.
Period 2: Driver active, but waiting for a request. Period 2 starts when the driver activates the Lyft app, but hasn’t yet accepted a request. Period 2 is also known as “driver mode.”
In Period 2, the driver’s insurance is primary, but Lyft provides “contingent liability insurance“ that steps in to insure any damage above the driver’s coverage.
Lyft’s contingent liability insurance maximum is $50,000 for injury or death and $25,000 for property damage. This is far less than the limits mandated for taxis and limousines.
Period 3: Trip request accepted through the end of the ride. Period 3 begins when the Lyft driver accepts your request. It ceases once all passengers are discharged, and the driver ends the trip in the app.
In Period 3, Lyft’s commercial liability policy is generally primary. This insurance maximum is $1 million per person (up to $2 million for two people).
Thus, depending on the circumstances, victims may pursue compensation from the driver, Lyft, or both, if the Lyft driver is at fault.
What types of damages may I recover in a Lyft accident case?
Under Nevada law, injury victims may seek the following in damage compensation.
Medical expenses, including ambulance transport, emergency room visit, hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s office visits, diagnostic tests, medication, assistive devices (canes, walkers), and so on
Future medical expenses if the Lyft accident causes catastrophic injuries or disability requiring long-term recovery or indefinite long-term care
Lost wages for time off work due to injury, treatment, and recovery
Lost future wages if a severe injury or disability prevents you from returning to work
Property damage if the accident damages or destroys personal property
Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, such as lost quality of life, scarring and disfigurement that affect livelihood, and loss of consortium with a spouse
What if the insurance policy doesn’t cover the cost of my injuries?
Unfortunately, the minimum insurance coverage required of drivers, $25,000, may not cover severe injuries. As we all know, medical bills are often very high.
A Las Vegas Lyft accident lawsuit can help you seek compensation above the insurance minimums.
When You Need a Lyft Accident Lawyer in Las Vegas
If you’re in a Lyft accident in Las Vegas, don’t try to go it alone. Responsibility and damage compensation pose complex questions. At Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC, our first consultation is always free, and because we work on contingency, you never pay us out of pocket for our services. Contact us today. We will fight to see that justice is done.