When you’re a passenger in a vehicle, your safety is in the hands of the driver, as well as other drivers on the road. However, when you’re a Lyft passenger, the rideshare driver isn’t a friend or family member you know you can trust. They’re a stranger. You don’t know their driving experience or the level of respect they’ll show for the rules of the road.
If they are a negligent driver, by the time you find out, it may be too late to avoid an accident.
Passengers injured in Lyft accidents have the right to seek financial compensation for the harm they have suffered—regardless of whether their rideshare driver or another motorist was at fault. Our NJ Lyft passenger accident attorneys have decades of experience handling auto accident claims, especially complex cases involving rideshare companies. To learn more about the legal process and have your case evaluated for free, call 866-778-5500 today or complete our online form.
Between 2017 and 2019, more than 100 fatal accidents involving Lyft vehicles occurred, according to the company’s Community Safety Report.
Researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business reported in 2019 their findings that ridesharing services were “associated with an increase of approximately 3 percent in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents.” That amounts to nearly 1,000 deaths each year—and it doesn’t even touch upon the nonfatal collisions that can still leave victims seriously injured.
Most motor vehicle collisions result from some form of negligence—most commonly, driver error. As a passenger, you’re not in control of either the vehicle you’re riding in or the other cars on the road around you. If either your Lyft driver or another motorist in your vicinity engages in any of the following behaviors while behind the wheel, they could be putting you in danger.
Additionally, drivers for Lyft and other rideshare companies are often navigating unfamiliar roads. Instead of finding and safely pulling into a legal parking space, they may drop off or pick up passengers in areas that are not legal or safe to park in. The Lyft app itself and map or GPS tools may distract the driver. These factors are particularly troubling when combined with driver inexperience. Lyft drivers in most states don’t need to meet driving history requirements—and the states that do impose these standards generally require only one year of driving experience. It’s very possible that the Lyft driver you’re entrusting with your life could have minimal experience behind the wheel.
Whether the Lyft driver, another motorist, or (less commonly) another party is the one at fault for the crash, you’re still suffering the consequences. You’ve sustained physical injuries. Not only can these injuries cause you pain and limit your range of motion, but they also prevent you from doing things you need to do—like work and take care of your family—and the things you want to do. Because of this accident, you may be out of work and unable to pay your bills, even as the treatments for your injuries cause you to incur additional expenses.
This accident has affected every part of your life. You deserve compensation for both the financial costs that have resulted from the collision and the non-economic but no less real impacts this accident has had on your quality of life. In New Jersey, the way to get the money damages you’re entitled to is by filing a Lyft passenger accident injury lawsuit.
We are here to help.
After a car accident, the auto insurance policies of the different parties involved in the accident pay for covered losses.
Certain laws and regulations may make determining who’s insurance coverage pays for what more complicated. For example, under New Jersey’s no-fault law, an injured individual’s own auto insurance coverage (assuming they have insurance) typically pays for their medical bills through a type of coverage called personal injury protection, or PIP. That’s generally the case even if the injured person was a passenger rather than a driver in the collision.
Further complicating these legal matters is NJ’s limitation on lawsuit options. When a policyholder purchases auto insurance in New Jersey, they must choose either the limitation on lawsuit option, otherwise known as the “verbal threshold” option, or the unlimited right to sue option, also known as the “zero threshold” option. Under the verbal threshold, accident victims may only sue for non-economic damages like pain and suffering if they meet certain criteria. Policyholders who choose the zero threshold option aren’t subject to these limits—but the additional cost of the zero threshold option deters many policyholders from choosing this option.
For an injured Lyft car accident passenger, though, auto accident claims can get even more complicated. Does being a rideshare passenger change how these laws that govern other NJ auto accidents apply to your unique case? How do you determine which auto insurance policy—your own, the Lyft driver’s personal auto insurance, any insurance coverage provided by Lyft directly, and the insurance coverage of other drivers involved in the crash—pays for what consequences of the accident?
Compared to other motor vehicle collisions, different laws apply to accidents involving rideshare drivers.
If you report the crash to your auto insurance company to start accessing your PIP benefits—as you would in other situations in which you were a passenger injured in an accident—your auto insurer may deny your claim.
This outcome results from how New Jersey law categorizes rideshare vehicles. State law specifies that PIP benefits only apply in accidents that involve “automobiles.” Under the statute N.J.S.A. 39:6A-3.2, vehicles meeting the definition of “automobile” for this purpose must be “neither used as a public or livery conveyance for passengers nor rented to others with a driver.” Under this statute, your auto insurer may not cover your medical expenses, instead arguing that the Lyft vehicle doesn’t meet the state’s legal definition of an automobile and, as such, that the crash isn’t covered under your PIP benefits. Even if your auto insurer doesn’t try to get out of paying your PIP benefits, it’s still possible that the costs of treating your injuries could exceed the PIP coverage available under your insurance policy.
That doesn’t mean you’re on your own for paying your medical bills, but it may make getting these bills paid more complicated. Lyft may still maintain that your medical bills go through your own PIP coverage despite any claim denial or coverage limit notices you receive from your auto insurance company.
You could find yourself caught between Lyft, your own insurance company, and the rideshare driver’s personal auto insurance company all trying to pass the responsibility of paying for your medical expenses onto each other. In the meantime, you’re the one suffering—stressing over the mounting medical bills or even having to wait to get the care you need.
It isn’t only responsibility for the payment of your medical expenses that can change when your passenger injury accident involves a Lyft or Uber driver. Another important point to know is that many drivers who would otherwise have only a limited right to sue actually have the full right to sue for non-economic damages in a collision that involves Lyft. Under N.J. Stat. § 39:5H-10, “the limitation on lawsuit option… shall not be assertable by a transportation network company or a transportation network company driver in any action for damages arising from a prearranged ride.” This means you’re entitled to money damages for your non-economic losses, like pain and suffering, even if your injuries don’t meet a set of arbitrary requirements.
Know your legal options.
The Lyft driver should have a personal auto insurance policy. However, this policy may not apply when they are actively using the Lyft app as a driver.
Lyft itself provides different levels of auto insurance coverage depending on the stage of work its rideshare driver is in at the time of the crash. As a Lyft passenger, though, the amount of coverage (if any) available while the driver is awaiting a ride request or on the way to pick up their passenger isn’t particularly relevant. (This coverage might apply to the Lyft driver themselves or to other motorists, occupants of other cars, and pedestrians who suffer injuries in an accident that occurs at this time.)
For you, the most important aspect of Lyft’s insurance coverage is how much coverage the company provides during the time when the rideshare driver is providing a prearranged ride to the passenger.
Nationwide, Lyft provides “at least $1,000,000 for third-party auto liability” and “first party coverages, which may include uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, PIP, MedPay, and/or Occupational Accident coverage” from the time the rideshare driver accepts a fare to the time the passenger is dropped off at their destination. In the case of New Jersey Lyft accidents, though, the rideshare company is required to comply with NJ state laws that require higher levels of coverage.
Per N.J. Stat. § 39:5H-10, “Whenever a transportation network company driver is providing a prearranged ride, the transportation network company driver, transportation network company, or any combination of the two” must have insurance coverage in amounts at least equal to the following:
Lyft crashes aren’t always the rideshare driver’s fault. If the other driver or another party is at fault for the crash, you would seek compensation for some of your losses, like pain and suffering, from this motorist’s insurance coverage. In cases in which the at-fault driver (who is not the Lyft driver) is uninsured or underinsured, Lyft’s UM or UIM insurance coverage would apply.
Insurance coverage for NJ Lyft passenger accidents is complicated. That means getting the compensation you deserve may be even more challenging than usual because the crash that injured you involved a rideshare vehicle.
Having an experienced NJ Lyft passenger accident lawyer on your side is particularly important for getting the full amount of money you deserve when your claim has the added complexity of a rideshare accident. The lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. have represented injured victims in personal injury claims for more than 25 years. As the NJ ridesharing industry has evolved, we have consistently followed the accompanying legislative changes and unfolding case law. Our attorneys have represented clients across New Jersey in Uber and Lyft accident lawsuits. We’ll bring this experience to your case.
When you choose us to represent you, we handle every aspect of the claim—from investigating the accident and sources of insurance coverage to documenting the full extent of your damages. Our priority is getting you the full amount of compensation you deserve.
The last thing you need after being injured in a Lyft accident is another financial burden. That’s why we make every client our No Fee Promise. You can get your questions answered and the unique circumstances of your claim evaluated at no cost as part of our free, confidential consultation. If you hire us to represent you, you’ll pay nothing for the services of our experienced legal team unless and until we successfully get you compensation. We cover the upfront costs of moving forward with the claim and handle every aspect of the legal process, so all you have to focus on is getting better.