A South Florida car accident lawsuit alleges rideshare technology used by Lyft Inc. is unreasonably dangerous as designed, contributing to driver distraction and increasing the risk of serious crashes. Lyft, like the other ride-share technology platforms, doesn’t own a fleet of vehicles nor does it technically employ the drivers. The app connects people looking for rides with vetted drivers, insured by Lyft’s liability policy when the app is in use, despite the drivers’ independent contractor status.
Fort Myers injury lawyers know Lyft, Uber and other rideshare services have paid a fair number of Florida car accident lawsuit claims, alleging the drivers were negligent in causing crashes that resulted in injury. Rideshare drivers have been accused of distraction before, but not, to our knowledge, specifically in relation to use of the app itself.
This complaint, filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, states that the crash occurred in January on State Road A1A as plaintiff was exiting local resort where she worked on foot. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff has suffered extensive injuries, including brain trauma as a result of a driver who was distracted by the required Lyft app.
In a seven-count complaint, plaintiff asserts Lyft is not only directly responsible for negligent hiring of an independent contractor, but also for designing/manufacturing a product that is unreasonably dangerous because it compels drivers to constantly monitor the app while they’re operating their vehicles to do their jobs/generate income.
Are Rideshare Services Making Us Less Safe?
Although rideshare companies since their inception have touted the fact that their presence makes us all safer by reducing drunk driving, this case isn’t the only evidence indicating we may actually be collectively less safe with them on the road.
A recent study analyzed statistics from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting before and after rideshare companies burst into the scene. In that time frame, traffic deaths rose between 2 and 4 percent annually, even when controlled for several other factors. These deaths collectively cost us all between $5.33- and $13.24 billion annually.
Part of that has to do with the fact that rideshare companies increased the number of total vehicles on the road. This may cancel out whatever benefit there is to having fewer drunk drivers on the road – especially if many of the rideshare drivers are constantly distracted.
Can Tech Companies Be Successfully Sued for Distracted Driving Injuries?
Distracted driving claims against technology manufacturers aren’t exactly new. Apple Inc. has been sued several times in distracted driving cases, but so far courts have sided with the company.
Our Fort Myers car accident attorneys are aware these claims centered on the fact that Apple submitted a patent for a “lockout” technology feature that would automatically shut off an iPhone when it detects a phone in a moving vehicle. People injured by iPhone-distracted drivers have alleged if Apple had launched the feature (which it never did), those crashes could have been prevented. Apple has prevailed in each of those cases.
But these claims differ somewhat from the recent Florida car accident lawsuit involving Lyft because it asserts product liability, claiming the app is inherently and unreasonably dangerous the app as designed because the intent is for it to be actively used/monitored by Lyft drivers.
Plaintiff’s attorney says he hopes the case will carve out a precedent to compel Lyft and other rideshare companies to take this issue seriously.
The plaintiff suffered extensive, severe injuries, including a traumatic brain injury that required a full month of hospitalization and even still – years later – has cost her an independent life, with days now filled instead in physical and occupational therapy, her injury lawyers say.
She names Lyft Inc., Lyft Florida Inc., the independent contractor driver and Hertz Corp. (a company that contracts with Lyft) as defendants in the case.
If you are injured in Fort Myers, Naples, Port Charlotte or the surrounding areas contact our injury attorneys at the Garvin Law Firm at 800.977.7017 for your free initial consultation.
Florida Suit Accuses Lyft of Defective App Design Following Crash That Injured Pedestrian, April 12, 2019, Law.com
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Spring Break Dangerous Time for Tourist Injuries in Southwest Florida, Feb. 28, 2019, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog