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California Court Deems Lyft Not Liable for Driver’s Off-Platform Accident

Published on May 12, 2020 at 7:15 am in Lyft Accidents.

On May 1, 2020, a California appellate court upheld a win for Lyft in a lawsuit brought by two people who were injured in a collision with a Lyft driver. At the time of the accident, the Lyft driver was driving home from a separate job. The vehicle they were driving was rented as part of a Lyft program.

According to the First District Court of Appeal, Lyft could not be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior. This doctrine specifies that employers can only be held legally responsible for the actions of their employees when they are committed with the scope of employment.

The vehicle the rideshare driver was using was obtained through Lyft’s Express Drive program—which allows drivers to rent vehicles preapproved for use on the Lyft platform. While driving, he struck two vehicles and caused significant injuries. The rideshare driver, however, had not logged onto the Lyft ride-hailing platform. At the time of the crash, he claimed to have been returning home to eat and rest after having worked at a separate job.

The accident victims’ lawyers argued that the rental program led to the presumption that drivers were acting within the scope of their employment anytime they used the vehicles. Lyft’s attorney, however, claimed Lyft was not liable because the driver had not logged into the Lyft app at all the day of the accident and had to intention to do so.

First District Associate Justice Sandra Marguiles had this to say about the decision to deem Lyft not liable for the crash: “According to plaintiffs, any time these drivers were in their vehicles, there would be an increased possibility they would log onto the rideshare application, particularly if there were any heightened financial incentives offered for doing so (increased fares, driving bonuses, etc.). And that possibility would constitute a benefit to Lyft and bring any driving, for any reason, at any time, within ‘the scope of business.’ We decline to create so broad a rule.”

Going up against a rideshare company can be challenging—especially when the cause of the accident or the driver’s status is unclear. That’s why the Rideshare Law Group represents accident victims on a nationwide basis.

If you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your losses. Common damages include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

When a rideshare driver’s negligence results in harm to you or someone you love, you shouldn’t have to deal with the financial consequences on your own. While rideshare lawsuits can take time to settle, it’s often in your best interest to pursue a claim. Not only will you be securing your financial future, but you’ll be sending a clear message to the driver and the rideshare company about accountability. Contact us today to learn more about filing a claim.