A Lyft passenger died on Saturday in California after his driver swerved off a highway and slammed into two trees.
The crash occurred early Saturday morning in Roseville, a city near Sacramento. According to the California Highway Patrol, the Lyft driver — who had two passengers in his Toyota Camry — was traveling at 60 MPH and tried to avoid a stuck car on Interstate 80 when he lost control and hit two trees, instantly killing a 24-year old passenger. The driver and other rider were hospitalized with serious injuries.
This is the first fatality in Lyft’s history and will test how its insurance policies operate. The company offers liability coverage of up to $1 million that is primary to a driver’s personal insurance. Here’s how Lyft describes the policy:
Our $1M liability and uninsured/underinsured policies will apply as primary to a driver’s personal automobile insurance policy when matched with a passenger. This means that from the moment you accept a ride request and are on your way to pick up a passenger to the moment you end the ride in the app, Lyft has an insurance policy for liability up to $1 million per incident. If you already carry commercial insurance, Lyft’s policy will continue to be excess to your commercial insurance coverage.
Lyft also offers coverage up to $1 million for accidents that involve an uninsured and/or underinsured driver who is “ultimately at fault for bodily injury caused to you, your passengers, or third parties.”
Exactly what policies take effect in this incident will depend on how fault is determined, which could take several weeks due to the complexity of this particular situation. Aside from the stalled Kia and the Lyft driver’s Camry, there were three other vehicles involved. The California Highway Patrol said it does not appear that alcohol or drugs played a role in this incident.
Here’s a statement from Lyft:
On November 1st at 1:25am, a Lyft ride in Sacramento was part of a multi-car collision on I-80 that resulted in fatal injuries to one of the two passengers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones involved in this tragedy. We are deeply saddened to hear this news and will continue to support those involved as well as authorities in the ongoing investigation.
Lyft spokeswoman Erin Simpson told us that the company’s $1 million liability policy is “designed to provide coverage for Lyft drivers to protect passengers and third-parties in unfortunate and tragic accidents such as this one.”
Uber dealt with a similar issue this past December, when one of its uberX drivers struck and killed a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco. Uber denied responsibility to insure the driver, since he was not with a passenger nor en route to pick up one. The company has filed for defense in a wrongful death suit filed by the girl’s family.
Here’s the full incident description from the California Highway Patrol: