A tragic accident near Sacramento last weekend was the first fatality for popular ridesharing company Lyft. The accident occurred when a 24 year old man, who was a resident of West Sacramento, was returning home from Halloween in a Lyft vehicle. The driver of the Lyft vehicle, also from Sacramento, was driving at 60 miles an hour when he swerved to avoid a stalled Kia in the middle lane of the highway. He lost control of his 2014 Camry, which hit a tree, spun, and hit another tree. The second collision killed the passenger, who was sitting in the left rear seat.
The Kia had been rear-ended by a vehicle that left the scene. While the Kia was disabled, other cars also struck the Kia. Because this accident involved several cars, it could take up to several months to determine which party was at fault.
This accident is the first fatal crash in Lyft’s 2 ½ year history. Lyft operates by allowing passengers to use a smartphone app to find drivers who will give them a ride for a set fee in their personal cars. Other ridesharing companies include Uber and Sidecar.
In recent months, ridesharing companies have come under scrutiny about whether their insurance coverage is sufficient. Under current law and the way in which insurance policies are structured, the coverage varies depending on whether a driver has been matched with a passenger. In other words, if a ridesharing company driver is driving around waiting to be matched with a passenger and gets into a serious accident, the insurance company of the ridesharing company will most likely not provide coverage. In that case, the driver’s own personal insurance policy may kick in, but personal auto insurers are complaining that their policies are not designed to cover commercial activities, such as paid rides.
In the case of this accident, Lyft has a $1 million liability insurance policy, including uninsured/underinsured liability coverage. The policy appears to be structured to cover this accident, no matter which party is ultimately found to be at fault. If the Lyft driver was at fault, the $1 million should cover the accident. If someone else was at fault and they were not insured, or did not have adequate insurance, Lyft’s $1 million uninsured/underinsured coverage should apply. In California, drivers are only required to carry $15,000 in insurance for death or injury to multiple parties.
Recently, a bill was passed in California to deal with ridesharing insurance concerns. The law requires insurance coverage when a driver for a ridesharing company is logged into a company’s app but hasn’t been matched with a passenger. The law takes effect on July 1, 2015. The maximum mandated coverage is $200,000.
Another fatal California accident which occurred on New Year’s Eve last year in San Francisco made lawmakers aware of the problem of an insurance gap with ridesharing companies. A driver for Uber hit and killed a six year old girl, and injured her mother and brother, while he was logged into the Uber app and was waiting for a ride request. He only had the minimum insurance coverage required under law, and Uber is denying liability because the driver was not transporting a passenger at the time of the accident. The family is suing Uber for wrongful death.
As technology improves, in some cases the law does not keep pace with technology. These insurance issues are a prime example. If you have been injured in an accident involving a ridesharing company, you may have to deal with insurance coverage issues until the new law takes effect in California.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that ridesharing companies should structure their insurance coverage so that there are no potential gaps that could leave a person without recourse. If you’ve been involved in an accident in the Oakland-San Francisco area, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco automobile accident attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She will help you obtain compensation for your accident. Call today for your free consultation.