While every accident is different, in most cases, Lyft cannot be held liable for a negligent driver’s actions because Lyft classifies its drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees.
Under state law, employers can be held responsible for the negligent acts of an employee. However, that is not the case for independent contractors. Generally, employers are only responsible for the acts of an independent contractor if the employer retains a certain degree of control over how the contractor performs the work. Courts have held that rideshare companies cannot be held liable for car accidents caused by their drivers.
Passengers injured in a Lyft accident are not without a way to recover, however, because it is still possible to file a personal injury claim against the Lyft driver in their individual capacity. If the accident caused serious injuries, the Lyft driver may not be able to pay the medical expenses. For this reason, Lyft maintains a $1 million insurance policy that will cover the driver in this situation.
For non-passengers who are injured in a rideshare accident, such as pedestrians or bicyclists who are hit by a Lyft driver, the process can be a little more complicated. For example, Lyft’s $1 million insurance policy will only cover an accident if the driver has a passenger at the time of the collision. If the driver is using the car for personal business or is on duty but does not have a passenger (and has not yet been matched up with a passenger), an injury victim must file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Depending on the policy limits, the extent of the injuries, and whether the driver obtained the correct type of policy, accident victims may have difficulties recovering the financial compensation they are entitled to.