More and more people are becoming Lyft drivers as more and more people subscribe and use Lyft each day. What if your Lyft driver gets into an accident with you in the car? Here is some general information you should know about Lyft drivers.
NYC Requirements for LYFT Drivers
TLC Plates. If you look carefully, all Lyft drivers have the following license plates: T123456C. That means they are licensed and regulated by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). TLC has specific requirements separate from applicable New York law, which all Lyft drivers must follow.
Note: This city agency regulates yellow, green, black Lincoln, LYFT, and Lyft cabs, and limousines (among other vehicles).
Liability Insurance Policies. In New York, all private vehicles must have liability insurance at a minimum of $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident. Lyft drivers must have for-hire insurance with limits of $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident to be licensed under TLC.
Lyft considers themselves as a “peer-to-peer transportation platform”, which means that their drivers use their own cars to pick up passengers, who request a ride through the app. Drivers are not considered employees of the company.
What If There’s an Accident?
If you’re a passenger of an Lyft driver and that driver due to his or her own fault gets into an accident, your monetary recover will generally be limited to that driver’s insurance coverage, which is required to be least $100,000. Because UBER drivers are considered “partners” rather than “employees,” drivers operating – supposedly – alone without the control and supervision of UBER (the company).
If your injuries are minor, then the driver’s insurance limits may be sufficient to cover your entire compensation. This means that the Lyft driver (and his/her insurance company) will compensate you for your injuries, not Lyft (the company).
THE SITUATION GETS TRICKIER UNDER THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO
If the injuries were severe (perhaps deadly), the driver’s insurance will only cover up to $100,000. See the problem: Where do you get the rest of your compensation if greater than $100,000? Some would say that Lyft (the company) is responsible.
Whether Lyft (the company) is responsible depends on whether Lyft driver(s) are employees or independent contractors. Usually, a company (employer) pays for accidents caused by its employees while on the job. A company (employer), however, is not usually responsible for accidents caused by independent contractors.
So if UBER thinks of its drivers as independent contractors, it may relieve itself from liability altogether when facing a serious accident with serious injuries. This situation would leave you with inadequate compensation.
Lyft have claimed that they insure their drivers in addition to such drivers’ private insurance. Whether UBER’s insurance applies will depend on such policies’ language and the type of the accident, which should be left for an attorney to analyze.
With the proliferation of Lyft (and UBER) transportation, this issue will evolve to some definite rule of law. Questions concerning accidents occurring during the use of cell phones or texting of UBER drivers while driving in the course of their job and vis-à-vis the responsibility of Lyft will come to a head as such legal cases are processed through our court system and a just solution is fashioned.