Fatal Lyft Accidents
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Fatal Lyft Accidents in New Jersey
Launched in 2012, Lyft is a ride sharing company based out of San Francisco. Currently, Lyft operates in over 400 U.S. cities and has over 23 million users. The company works through a smartphone app that allows riders to hail a Lyft car on demand. The Lyft app offers riders several different options, from ride sharing to large luxury vehicles. Payment for the service is also done through the app. Lyft drivers use their own vehicles and are considered independent contractors.
Since the introduction of Lyft back in 2012, the company has exploded in popularity. In large part, this is because Lyft offers unrivaled convenience when it comes to getting around New Jersey. Rather than pay for expensive taxi cabs that can take a long time to show up, or rely on fixed-route public transportation, users can summon a reasonably priced ride on demand. Of course, riding in a Lyft is not without its risks. According to a recent university study, rideshare companies are responsible for a 2-3 percent increase in the total number of car accident fatalities in the United States. Given that there are approximately 38,000 people who are killed in motor vehicle collisions every year in the United States, that means that there are as many as 1,140 fatal rideshare accidents each year.
The Todd J. Leonard Law Firm’s experienced New Jersey Lyft Accident Lawyers represent families who have lost loved ones in fatal rideshare accidents. We have over 30 years of experience successfully handling even the most complex cases for our clients from all walks of life. Throughout this period, we have successfully served thousands of clients throughout New Jersey, recovering over $100 million on their behalf.
Lyft Accidents in New Jersey
The rideshare app, Lyft, has become very common in recent years. In fact, Lyft has become so commonplace that most users do not even give it a second thought before getting into the car. However, passengers face very real risks each time they get into the car. This is especially the case with Lyft, where a rider is unfamiliar with the driver and their qualifications.
It seems that many Lyft riders are under the impression that drivers must go through a training program or skills test before they are allowed to drive for the company. However, that is not the case. Lyft allows almost anyone to drive for the company, imposing only a few requirements. To drive for Lyft, a driver must:
- Be at least the 21 years old;
- Have a driver’s license;
- Have at least one year of driving experience;
- Any smartphone that can download and run the Lyft Driver app;
- Have adequate car insurance; and
- Pass a driver screening, which looks into an applicant’s driving history and criminal record.
In addition to the above, New Jersey law imposes additional requirements, including:
- The Lyft vehicle must have a “Lyft” designation on the outside front of the vehicle when in driver mode;
- New Jersey Lyft drivers are required by law to notify the company immediately if the driver is convicted, charged or arrested for a violent crime, felony, sexual offense, driving offense or drug-related offense;
- New Jersey Lyft drivers cannot receive ride requests that originated in New York City; and
- New Jersey Lyft drivers are required to purchase the proper insurance coverage.
Given the lax requirements to become a driver, it is no surprise that New Jersey Lyft accidents are a common occurrence.
New Jersey Wrongful Death Claims
Losing a loved one in a New Jersey car accident is truly tragic. While nothing can bring back a loved one who was senselessly killed in a preventable rideshare accident, surviving family members can ease the financial burden associated with this loss by pursuing a New Jersey wrongful death claim.
Under the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act, family members who were financially dependent on a deceased family member can bring a wrongful death claim. Family members who are entitled to take legal action may include:
To establish liability in a New Jersey wrongful death case, a surviving family member must show that their loved one’s death was “caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” In a fatal New Jersey Lyft accident, the potential defendants are not limited to the Lyft driver, but may also include another motorist, “Lyft the company,” or even the manufacturer of a vehicle that was involved in the collision.
Proving a wrongful death claim is very similar to proving a traditional negligence claim in that a surviving family member must establish four elements:
- Duty: A surviving family member must show that the defendant owed their loved one a duty of care. In most Lyft accident, this will be assumed, because motorists generally owe a duty of care to others on the road and Lyft drivers certainly ow a duty of care to their passengers.
- Breach: A wrongful death plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s conduct breached the duty of care that was owed to their loved one. This is often done by presenting evidence that the driver was not paying attention or not following traffic laws at the time of the collision.
- Causation: A surviving family member must also show that the defendant’s breach of that duty resulted in the death of their loved one.
- Damages: Finally, wrongful death plaintiffs must present evidence that they suffered some type of legally recognizable harm. This element is very rarely at issue given the tragic nature of these claims.
While establishing the elements of a New Jersey wrongful death claim may seem straightforward, the involvement of insurance companies can complicate matters. The vast majority of all wrongful death cases are defended not by the individual driver who is alleged to have been at fault, but by their insurance company. Insurance companies are motivated to pay out as little as possible to resolve a claim, and will try almost anything to avoid responsibility for a fatal Lyft accident. Thus, families who have lost a loved one in a New Jersey Lyft accident should consult with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney before proceeding.
Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When someone is killed in a New Jersey Lyft accident, their surviving family members can pursue a claim for financial compensation through a wrongful death claim. New Jersey wrongful death law has several unique aspects. For example, in New Jersey, there are two types of claims that can be brought after the loss of a loved one. The first is a claim to recover pecuniary losses, such as funeral costs, medical bills, property loss and the loss of future expected income. This is the most common type of wrongful death claim. However, pecuniary claims do not include compensation for any pain and suffering the deceased accident victim suffered. However, the second type of New Jersey wrongful death claim is a survival action, which can be filed if an accident victim does not die immediately. In a survival action, a family can seek additional compensation for the conscious pain and suffering of the victim between the accident and the time of their death.
Notably, New Jersey law does not permit family members to obtain compensation for their own pain and suffering as a result of the loss of their loved one. Additionally, punitive damages are not available in most New Jersey wrongful death cases.
An important part of the discussion when it comes to the available damages in a New Jersey Lyft accident is the availability of insurance coverage. Typically, Lyft’s insurance company will be the one to defend a claim against the company and, ultimately, will be responsible for paying out any compensation award. In New Jersey, riders are insured for up to $1.5 million while on a trip. This includes $1.5 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist protection in the event that a third-party motorist caused the collision and did not have sufficient insurance coverage. However, if an accident occurs while the Lyft driver is waiting to be paired up with a passenger, Lyft only provides coverage up to $50,000 per person or a total of $100,000 per accident.
It is also important to review any applicable household insurance policies for additional coverages.
The nuances of the insurance requirements and how they play into the available compensation in a wrongful death case can be complex. Families who have lost a loved one in a fatal New Jersey Lyft accident should reach out to an experienced New Jersey Lyft Accident Lawyer for immediate assistance.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Law Firm for Immediate Assistance
If you have recently lost a loved one in a tragic New Jersey Lyft accident, contact one of the dedicated New Jersey Lyft Accident Lawyers at the Todd J. Leonard Law Firm to discuss your rights. Our attorneys provide compassionate, zealous advocacy on behalf of aggrieved families across New Jersey and will hold all of the responsible parties full accountable.
Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys have over 30 years of experience aggressively representing seriously injured clients and their families in all types of claims, including New Jersey wrongful death cases. Throughout this period, we have successfully served thousands of clients, recovering over $100 million on their behalf. The firm’s founder, attorney Todd Leonard, has devoted his entire legal career to helping his clients recover the compensation they need and deserve from the parties responsible for their injuries and losses. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, give us a call today at (973) 920-7900 to request a free and confidential consultation. There is no risk in calling, because we never charge a fee unless we can help you recover compensation. We have offices conveniently located in Denville and Morristown.
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Being injured or having a family member injured can have serious and lifelong consequences. We can try to ease the burden. Contact us today to learn more about how our team of experienced New Jersey accident attorneys can support you through these challenging times.