Lyft Express Drive Program: Who’s Liable for Damages Now?
The new Lyft Express Drive Program makes it easy for drivers to rent a car and use it to pick up “lyfts;” however, this new system creates considerable complexity when it comes to determining liability. Under this new scheme, liability may fall to Lyft’s insurance, the driver’s personal insurance, Hertz’s insurance, or the injured party’s own UIM/PIP insurance coverage. While the Lyft Express Drive Program program makes it easier for Lyft to expand their presence, it does so by putting their drivers, pedestrians, and other motorists at risk of serious injury or death without a clear liability structure in place.
Understanding the Lyft Express Drive Program
In September 2018, Lyft partnered with Hertz to make it possible for qualified drivers to rent a vehicle from the company that they can use to transport Lyft customers. Drivers must be 25-years old, pass a background check, and pay a deposit to be eligible. The Lyft Express Drive Program allows drivers to drive for unlimited miles and Hertz takes care of any maintenance while providing limited insurance coverage to drivers and their passengers.
Under the program, drivers are liable for a $2500 deductible for any damage that occurs to the vehicle. When a car accident takes place, a tiered liability structure is applied. If the driver is not logged into the ridesharing app, Hertz’s liability insurance covers $30,000 in liability for a single-injury accident, or $60,000 for a multiple-injury accident.
If the driver is logged in and waiting for a passenger, Lyft’s contingent liability policy provides $50,000 in coverage for a single-injury crash, or $100,000 for a multiple-injury crash. If the driver is carrying a passenger or en route to picking up a passenger, the $1 million liability policy carried by Lyft is applied.
The Oil in the Ointment
The problem with the tiered liability system is that it creates complications and too much corporate flexibility for assigning liability when a crash occurs. The Lyft Express Drive Program makes it far too easy for both Hertz and Lyft to shift the liability depending on a number of variables. This can result in multiple denied claims from injured passengers and motorists. Worst of all, the tiered liability scheme can significantly prolong the time it takes to receive fair compensation for injuries and property damage.