Pittsburgh Lyft Accident Attorneys
Ridesharing companies like Lyft have exploded in popularity in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. Riders have embraced the system because it offers convenient scheduling through an app and much lower fares than traditional taxi cabs. Drivers like the ability to drive as independent contractors for “a side gig,” without all the barriers to entry associated with the taxi industry.
Unfortunately, the lower training and insurance requirements can also put riders in an unfortunate position when something goes wrong, or an accident occurs. According to Lyft’s first-ever safety report—which took into account data reported on the Lyft platform from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2019—there were 105 fatalities involving a Lyft car during that time period.
The report failed to provide data on non-fatal accidents or accidents that resulted in injuries. Nor did it provide information about accidents that occurred when drivers were driving without passengers between rides.
According to Carsurance.net—a company that helps people find the best car insurance—in 2022, Lyft is available in 644 cities in the U.S., with drivers making on average $34,422 per year. The company’s net worth as of 2022 stands at around $14.93 billion.
At Chaffin Luhana, our Pittsburgh auto accident lawyers offer free consultations and contingency-based representation to people who have been injured in a Lyft car accident and their families. Give our experienced Pittsburgh car accident attorneys a call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 1-888-480-1123.
Common Causes of Lyft Accidents in Pittsburgh
Common causes of Lyft accidents include the following.
Distracted driving is a problem affecting almost all drivers, but Lyft drivers can be particularly susceptible to it. They have to manage the Lyft app as part of their jobs, and must also look up and type in information on their phones to get directions.
According to research conducted as part of a graduate student fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, Uber and Lyft drivers use navigation and other apps more than regular drivers while behind the wheel. The researchers gathered information from surveys of drivers and also found that the Uber/Lyft app requires significant attention, and is often used while driving.
As noted above, the average Lyft driver makes only about $35,000 a year. Such a driver is going to be motivated to get more rides to make more money. That means they’re interested in transporting passengers quickly so they can fit in as many rides as possible.
Lyft drivers are not limited on how much time they can spend behind the wheel. They typically work long hours without a break. They may feel they don’t have the time to stop and rest, which can make them particularly susceptible to fatigue.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), driving while drowsy is similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol, and makes drivers three times more likely to be in a crash.
A Lyft driver is required to be licensed, be at least 21 years old, and have one year of experience as a licensed driver. But there is no specific safety testing or instruction to become a Lyft driver. The training required is limited and primarily deals with how to use the app, and tips and tricks for driving for the company.
Lyft drivers must scan to find their passengers, pull over in various places to pick them up or drop them off, and then rejoin traffic to go find another passenger. They may need to look around to find the right street where their passenger is waiting. This can cause unpredictable driving, including unexpected stops, sudden turns, or slow driving.
A Lyft driver trying to fit in a lot of rides per day may choose to drive aggressively to get where they want to go. They may speed, tailgate, avoid traffic signals, or make abrupt lane changes—all of which can increase the risk of an accident.
Poorly Maintained Vehicle
According to the Lyft website, Lyft vehicles must meet all state requirements, have four doors, a minimum of 5 seatbelts, and a maximum of 8 seatbelts. Otherwise, requirements vary by region. In Philadelphia, the vehicle must be 2007 or newer, and not on the list of ineligible subcompact vehicles.
Outside of these initial requirements, it’s up to the driver to maintain their vehicle properly. Failing to do so can increase the risk of an accident. Common issues include worn brakes, tire blowouts, missing signal lights, and faulty seatbelts or airbags.
Driving Under the Influence
Lyft has a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy. But just like any driver, a Lyft driver may choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This affects reaction time, thinking, and decision-making, and can increase the risk of an accident.
Unsafe or Illegal Parking
Lyft drivers may park in strange places when picking up or dropping off passengers. This can affect surrounding traffic and may put other drivers or pedestrians in danger.
Pittsburgh Ridesharing Laws Applicable to Lyft
Pittsburgh laws require that:
- Lyft vehicles be from Model Year 2007 or higher and have at least four doors.
- Lyft vehicles be in good condition after passing state inspection.
- Lyft drivers be at least 21 years of age with a valid state driver’s license.
- Lyft drivers maintain current vehicle registration and carry locally accepted insurance.
According to the Public Vehicle-For-Hire Innovation Act:
- Privately owned vehicles used for public transportation must be contacted by app, not street-hailed.
- Background checks and minimal insurance levels are required ($50,000 / $100,000 / $25,000)
- The app must present riders with the license plate number and a photograph of the prospective driver.
- Lyft drivers must pass criminal background, sex offender database, and driver history checks.
Internally, Lyft drivers are held to certain standards, as outlined in the company safety policies. For instance, they are instructed not to pick up passengers under age 18 without an accompanying adult.
Lyft drivers and passengers may not carry weapons – including firearms, stun guns, explosives, knives, slingshots, and tasers — even where it is legal to possess and carry.
Drivers and passengers are not allowed to smoke in Lyft vehicles. Drivers are not allowed to videotape passengers or broadcast images. Sexual assault cases are handled confidentially in the means of the victim’s choosing, whether through arbitration, mediation, or court.
How to Select an Attorney in Pittsburgh for Your Lyft Accident
Experience with Ridesharing Accidents
Many lawyers have experience with car accidents, but ridesharing accidents are a little different. You are more likely to be successful in your Lyft accident lawsuit if you have an attorney who has experience with your type of case. There are unique laws in Pennsylvania that apply to ridesharing accidents, and your attorney needs to be well-versed in these to properly represent you.
Check online to see what sort of reputation the lawyer and the law firm have before deciding to work with them. Then feel free to ask them about their other clients, their results, and their referrals. A good Lyft accident attorney will be willing to provide references that speak to their abilities and their reputation.
When you hire a Lyft accident lawyer, you’re not hiring only the attorney—you’re hiring the entire firm or office. Observe the attorney’s staff early on, as they will likely be doing research and investigative work on your behalf. When you go into the office, do you feel comfortable? Do the staff members communicate clearly and politely? Is it a professional atmosphere?
There are few things as frustrating as wondering how your case is going and hearing nothing from your attorney’s office. It can be equally difficult to try to talk to your attorney about your case if all you hear is a lot of legal jargon that makes no sense to you. As you’re shopping around, take note of how responsive the firm is, and how they communicate with you.
How will your Lyft accident attorney be paid? For most plaintiffs, it’s easiest to work with one that operates on a contingency basis. They will not charge you unless they can achieve a settlement or judgment in your favor. You may be responsible for smaller costs like filing fees and expert witness fees. Ask about the attorney’s fee process so you understand exactly what you’ll be responsible for.
If you have been injured in a ridesharing accident, you should speak with a Pittsburgh Lyft accident lawyer from Chaffin Luhana. We are truly “in your corner” following a ridesharing accident.
Our team only gets paid if you get money in a settlement or jury award. We will fully investigate what happened, identify areas of liability, and fight for the maximum recovery to pay your past and future medical bills, take the time you need off work and afford the best possible rehabilitation.
We have a proven track record of success. Our Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys have recovered over $1 billion and counting for our clients. Contact an experienced car accident attorney in Pittsburgh today.
What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana
Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:
Auto Personal Injury Recovery
“It’s a shame that the insurance companies put you through this…I’m glad there are people like you out there because the insurance companies would walk all over victims otherwise.”
– Mark S., Personal Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“[The firm has] done right [by] me. You did everything right. Informing me and keeping me up to date. You did a fine job. I appreciate you very much.”
– Roger J., Personal Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“I didn’t know what to expect since I never needed an attorney before. You took care of everything and were there for me.”
– Vicki B., Personal Injury Client
Here are some recent reviews from our clients
Dedication to Community
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the following activities:
- Scholarships: Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a student who helps us in the fight against distracted driving by submitting an inspiring personal essay.
- Financial gifts: The Foundation awards periodic financial gifts to institutions of higher learning to support scientific research and funds educational scholarships to students.
- Stephanie Victor Legacy Award: The Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual financial gift to one deserving individual who overcame significant challenges and achieved great milestones in his or her life or career.
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Chaffin Luhana has partnered with this organization to benefit those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Najee Harris Partnership: We have partnered with Pittsburgh Running Back, Najee Harris, and his Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation to support those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plaintiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Mr. Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Ms. Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Mr. Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you can show that a Lyft driver was responsible for your accident, you may be eligible to file a claim with that driver’s insurance company for your damages.
Lyft drivers are technically "independent contractors" who operate under the Lyft banner. That means the Lyft driver's auto insurance policy—not the company’s insurance—is the first place you would go when seeking compensation for your injuries.
Many insurance policies, however, refuse to cover an accident if the driver was operating in a “commercial” capacity unless the driver has a commercial driver’s license and policy. And most Lyft drivers do not.
If the driver’s insurance company denies the claim, Lyft offers liability insurance under certain conditions. Keep in mind that Lyft’s insurance is considered to be “excess” to the driver’s own insurance coverage and kicks in only if the at-fault party’s insurance is insufficient.
- Period zero: This is when the app is turned off and the driver is not waiting for a ride request. In other words, they are not working for Lyft at that time. If they cause an accident, Lyft insurance doesn’t apply. Injured parties must file a claim with the driver’s individual insurance.
- Period one: The driver has the app turned on, but has yet to receive a ride request. Accident victims are covered during this period only by Lyft's liability coverage, and nothing more. This coverage has limits of $50,000 per person bodily injury, up to $100,000 per incident, and $25,000 for property damage coverage. This is far less than the $100,000 of bodily injury coverage per person, $300,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident, and $100,000 of property damage coverage that most insurance experts recommend.
- Period two: The driver has accepted a ride request and is traveling toward the pickup location. During this time, Lyft’s limits are higher—up to $1 million of third-party liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury, and contingent comprehensive and collision coverage up to the actual value of the damaged vehicles. The driver has a $2,500 deductible on comprehensive and collision policies.
- Period three: The passenger is in the car. The period ends when the driver drops the passenger off. Lyft’s insurance here is the same as during period two.
Your options after a Lyft accident depend on two factors:
- Your role in the accident (were you the driver, passenger, or third party?)
- Which party caused the accident
Usually, the party who caused the accident is liable for damages. Keep in mind that Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. That means that each driver’s insurance pays for their own medical bills after an accident, regardless of fault, up to a certain limit.
There may be other damages, however, that are not covered by your individual insurance company (such as pain and suffering or lost wages), or your policy limits may not be enough to cover the extent of your medical damages. Then you may need to file a claim with the at-fault party.
To understand what recovery you may be entitled to, talk to an experienced Pittsburgh Lyft accident lawyer.
If you are involved in an accident with a Lyft vehicle, you would file a claim with your own insurance provider first for medical expenses, and file the at-fault party’s insurance provider for additional damages.
Remember that insurance companies are most concerned about their profits and may try to pay you less than you deserve. This is why you may want to hire a Lyft accident attorney. He or she will represent your interests and fight to achieve the best outcome for you.
The types of compensation that may be available to you (depending on your circumstance) after a Lyft accident include the following:
- Medical damages: Your own insurance will cover some of your medical expenses. If your expenses go beyond your policy’s limits, you may be able to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance.
- Lost wages: If your injuries keep you from being able to work, you can seek compensation for your lost wages.
- Loss of earning capacity: If you cannot return to your job because of your injuries and you will not be able to do so in the future, talk to your Pittsburgh Lyft accident attorney about your options for compensation.
- Disability and disfigurement: Victims who were paralyzed or otherwise disabled in the accident, or who suffered from injuries resulting in permanent disfigurement, may claim these damages.
- Property damages: If you were driving another car that was hit by a Lyft driver, you may be able to claim your property damages (as long as you weren’t at fault). The same would be true if you were riding a bike or motorcycle.
- Pain and suffering/emotional distress: Though these damages can be more difficult to quantify, your Lyft accident attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to support this claim.
- Loss of consortium: If you are hurt or disabled to the point that you can no longer provide support and companionship to your partner or spouse, your partner or spouse may be able to claim loss of consortium.
You may be able to recover damages from the Lyft driver or another at-fault driver as long as you were not more than 50 percent at fault for the accident.
The police report as well as other evidence will help determine fault. If you disagree with their findings, your Lyft accident attorney can help. They may be able to gather the evidence needed to support your claim.
Always seek immediate medical attention following a Lyft accident in Pittsburgh. Even if you think you escaped unscathed, it’s best to call 9-1-1 and have yourself checked for whiplash, herniated discs, meniscus tears, and other latent car-accident injuries.
If you were a Lyft passenger involved in a collision, you may want to do the following…
- Get photos and videos of the crash scene and property damage, if possible.
- Make note of the driver’s name and information and contact info of other parties involved.
- Ask for the contact information of any eyewitnesses who saw the crash.
- Do not assume the Lyft driver’s policy will cover your injury claim. You may need a Pittsburgh Lyft accident lawyer to fight.
If you’re a Lyft driver hit by another vehicle, you may want to do the following…
- Call the police and seek medical attention, even if the damage seems minor.
- Take photos of the accident site, vehicle damage, and signs of the accident including skid marks or lack thereof. Ask for witness contact information.
- Try to get the driver’s license plate number, insurance provider, and contact information.
- Resist the urge to apologize or admit liability for the crash. This could hurt your claim later on.
- Contact Lyft to find out if you are allowed to continue driving for them during the investigation.
- Call your insurance provider to report the accident.
- Contact a Pittsburgh Lyft accident attorney to negotiate for compensation.
If you’re driving another vehicle and get struck by a Lyft driver, you may want to do the following…
- Ask for the names and contact information of all witnesses.
- Take as many photos of the accident scene and cars involved from different angles as possible.
- Call the police from the accident scene to file a report, insisting that the Lyft driver stick around.
- Contact a law firm to represent your best interests, particularly when dealing with insurers.
All Lyft drivers in Pittsburgh must maintain their own insurance policies as per state laws. If you are in an accident with a Lyft driver and they are determined to be at fault, you can make a claim with the Lyft driver's individual insurance (for damages over what your own policy covers for medical damages).
If that insurance isn’t adequate to cover your injuries, Lyft also provides additional insurance to cover accidents involving its drivers. Remember that the amount of compensation available depends on whether the driver was logged into the Lyft app at the time of the accident, and whether they had accepted a trip or were carrying passengers.
If the driver was not logged into the app at the time of the accident, Lyft cannot be held liable. Your only option then is to seek damages from the driver's insurance company.
You have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. This is the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. Once that time passes, you can no longer seek compensation.
It’s best not to wait that long, however. Most insurance companies reserve the right to deny your claim if it’s not submitted within a reasonable amount of time. (How long that is varies depending on the insurance provider.)
You also don’t want the facts of the case to go cold. Gathering evidence about the accident is easiest early on. After that, witnesses may forget details, videos may be erased, and other types of evidence may be more difficult to obtain.