Earlier this year a driver of a Toyota Tacoma drove onto a sidewalk in Fullerton, injuring nine pedestrians. One of the pedestrians, Sara Polanco, was seriously injured—she was hospitalized with a shattered pelvis and lacerated liver.
Polanco has now filed a Southern California personal injury lawsuit to be compensated for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills she has incurred as a result of her injuries. In this suit Polanco has looked beyond just the driver that hit her to two Lyft drivers who were parked on the street the night of the accident. According to Mercury News, Polanco is “alleging that two of [Lyft’s] ride-share drivers were illegally parked and may have helped cause the traffic incident.”
The lawsuit claims that one of the Lyft drivers suddenly stopped while looking for directions for his passengers, causing the Tacoma driver to strike the Lyft and lose control. Then, a “second Lyft driver…abruptly and unsafely stopped to pick up passengers, then suddenly struck the back of [the Tacoma] causing it to further lose control and end up on the sidewalk where the nine pedestrians were struck.” Polanco believes that the Tacoma driver would have never lost control and hit her had the Lyft drivers not been stopped illegally. She argues the Lyft drivers were “disregarding the safety rules of the road in the operation of their Lyft vehicles” and therefore, Lyft should be liable for her injuries.
Traditional Lyft Liability
In California, even though Lyft drivers are classified as independent contractors, Lyft must still provide certain insurance coverages for its drivers and passengers in case of an accident. How much coverage they provide depends heavily on timing:
- During the time from when the Lyft driver’s turns on the Lyft app, but before a ride is accepted, California law requires minimum bodily injury coverage of $50,000.00 per person and $100,000.00 for all injured persons per accident.
- During the time the Lyft driver has been paired with a rider and while the Lyft driver is transporting a Lyft rider, then Lyft maintains single limits insurance coverage of $1,000,000.00 per incident.
Lyft Liability and Proximate Cause
In this case, Polanco’s personal injury claim rests on the argument that had the Lyft drivers not been parked illegally causing the Tacoma to lose control, she would not have been hit and injured. In legal terms, this is called “proximate cause”—the Lyft driver’s actions constituted the “proximate cause” of Polanco’s injuries. The doctrine of proximate cause is very tricky because it can be extremely difficult to prove liability when the person or party is not the actual cause of an injury.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case and what the court’s say about Lyft’s liability in a proximate cause situation. A case like this certainly leads to questions about when Lyft is liable for injuries caused to drivers, passengers, and now pedestrians around their cars. These questions will likely continue to confront the ride-sharing industry as it grows.
Get Help from an Experienced Lyft Injury Attorney
Any type of accident involving Lyft or another Rideshare service can be complicated. If you or a loved one was injured in a Lyft, Uber or any other ride share accident, you should speak to a skilled Los Angeles Lyft injury attorney at Walch Law. We offer a FREE consultation to talk about the details of your case, and if we take your Uber or Lyft ride share accident case, there is NO fee to you until you win! Call today at 866-465-8792!