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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Is Lyft Giving A Second Chance To Unsafe Drivers?

When you summon a ride from Lyft, you trust that the driver has been checked out and has a clean record. You expect that he or she is a safe driver. But Lyft has made changes to its policy regarding the deactivation of unsafe drivers that raises concerns. In fact, drivers who were previously deactivated from Lyft driver rolls could be reinstated based on Lyft’s new standards, the Washington Post reports.

Lyft has imposed a new protocol for determining whether a driver poses a safety threat and should be banned from driving for Lyft. The ridesharing service also is reducing the roles of the trained specialists hired to screen drivers, the article says.

Here’s a telltale statement from the article: “It’s one of several changes Lyft has made to its safety processes since going public earlier this year.”

Hiring is one of the biggest expenses in any business, and if you fire unsafe drivers it can be costly to replace them. A public company must answer to investors. Personnel costs are the first place to look at for savings, and lower standards make it easier and less expensive to fill positions.

The policy change could allow Lyft to increase its share of drivers as it competes with Uber, the article notes. But allowing drivers with checkered driving records to continue transporting Lyft riders is a concern.

Some current and former employees say the changes pose safety risks by applying a black-and-white decision structure to situations that call for human judgment and discretion.

Lyft says the changes are not about cost-cutting. Spokesman Alexandra LaManna said in a statement to the Post the new structure is aimed at removing bias from important safety decisions and establishing a clear policy on unacceptable behavior. On average, there has been as many deactivations of drivers, she said.

What is the Lyft Rideshare Safety Policy?

Lyft instituted its new safety processes in June. The Post says its reporting is based on documents and interviews with Lyft employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

According to the Post:

  • Safety team members now follow a set of standardized guidelines to determine whether a driver has committed an offense that should prompt deactivation.
  • Previously, lower-tier team members could remove drivers based on riders reporting that they felt unsafe or if they saw a pattern of unsafe behavior. Now they must follow rigid guidelines that could result in drivers staying online “until after a more serious incident occurs.”
  • On a second review of a case, a team of Safety Policy and Community Compliance specialists follows the same criteria and decides whether deactivating a driver lines up with the standards established in the company’s new decision matrix. Details on those specific criteria were not available.

Female Lyft Riders’ Safety Questioned

Getting into a car accident is the obvious concern when hailing a Lyft driver or any driver-for-hire. Under previous Lyft rules, a driver could be banned for behavior such as “repeatedly prompting customers for details about their trip or asking personal questions, such as whether they live at the drop-off destination or are single,” the Post explains. These complaints don’t carry as much weight under the new standards, apparently.

Further, women have alleged instances of sexual harassment and other types of misconduct by Lyft drivers. More than a dozen women in San Francisco say in a lawsuit that they were raped or sexually assaulted and that, despite receiving almost 100 sexual assault complaints between 2014 and 2016, Lyft let ‘known sexual predators’ give rides and concealed sexual assault complaints in multiple locations.

In September, the Post reported that Lyft was requiring driver education for new and current drivers and adding a notification system for potentially dangerous rides. The new feature will prompt Lyft to check in with riders and drivers to ask if they need help or prompt the company to call emergency services if a trip is delayed without explanation. Lyft also launched in-app 911 integration, a “panic button” feature allowing riders and drivers to alert authorities in the event of an emergency. Uber already has a panic button in its app.

Can I Sue Lyft After an Accident or Assault?

As the use of rideshare services has become more commonplace, there have been more accidents and assaults, particularly in large urban areas like New York. Lyft and Uber accident injury claims are becoming common.

Ridesharing services have complex insurance coverage, and they will claim differing liability depending on what the driver was doing and whether he or she was using the ridesharing app at the time of the accident. But if you have been injured in an incident connected to a Lyft or Uber driver, there are likely to be insurance policies in place and therefore compensation potentially available to you.

There are multiple factors that may affect how Lyft or Uber might respond to a claim from you. If there’s any question about whether they must provide a settlement, be prepared for pushback by the ridesharing company or for any offer you receive to be less than what you are truly due. As Lyft’s new safety policies indicate, ridesharing companies never lose sight of the bottom line.

Our dedicated injury attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe have worked with insurers of every type to get our clients the compensation they are due for unjust injuries caused by others’ carelessness or disregard for safety. If you’ve been hurt in a crash or assault involving a Lyft or Uber driver, our rideshare accident lawyers are ready to help you.

Contact an NYC Uber / Lyft Accident Attorney

Whether it’s Uber, Lyft, or another ridesharing service, the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, based in Long Island, can help you if you have been injured by a driver for one of these ridesharing companies. We will fight for the compensation you need to be made financially whole.

Contact us today for a free legal consultation. Our experienced New York accident lawyers will take the burden off you as you recover by handling every aspect of your injury claim.

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