Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers & Illinois Injury Lawyers

A Lyft Driver’s Attack on a Passenger and a New Injury Lawsuit Against the Rideshare Service in Illinois

| May 29, 2024 | Personal Injury, Uber/Lyft |

In some lawsuits where you’re injured by a rideshare driver or a delivery driver, it may be challenging to hold Lyft, Uber or Amazon liable for the misconduct of its driver. The company will likely argue that, because the driver was an independent contractor, they cannot be held liable for the errors of that driver. But sometimes, where you have evidence that the damages you suffered were not simply the result of the driver’s misconduct, but also the inevitably result of the company’s own negligence, then you may have a winning case for obtaining compensation from that rideshare service. Winning this kind of case can be complicated, so be sure you have representation from a skilled Chicago injury attorney.

A recent series of incidents here in Chicago would seem potentially to present such a scenario. Allegedly, the chain of events started with F.L., a man with a very violent streak… and a gig as a rideshare driver. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that, back in early July 2018, the Lyft driver allegedly punched a rider in the face after he and the rider argued about the best way to get to Wrigley Field.

Lyft fired F.L. but, using the driver’s license of a friend, he was back working for the service by the beginning of August. In early September, F.L., who also drove for Uber, got into a fight with a taxi driver west of downtown and fatally “roundhouse-kicked” the taxi driver.

The rider who got punched, who also happened to be a Chicago employment attorney, hired legal counsel and sued. (Even big-time downtown attorneys recognize the importance of not handling their injury cases on their own!)

Multiple alleged failures amounting to direct negligence

The attorney’s lawsuit asserted that all of this damage and death could have been avoided if Lyft had simply done what it was supposed to do. Allegedly, F.L.’s driver’s license was expired when he originally applied to Lyft, but Lyft approved him anyway. Although he did use a false ID to reapply in the summer of 2018, there were plenty of red flags on that application, according to the complaint. Allegedly, F.L.’s application under his friend’s name used the exact same Social Security number, cell phone number, email address, vehicle license plate number and vehicle identification number as he had provided in his first application to Lyft.

It would seem, based on the complaint, that the two applications were nearly identical except for the driver’s license number and name. Despite all that, “Lyft failed to spot the fraud and activated” F.L., according to the report.

The Sun-Times did its own investigation and found that Lyft improperly failed to notify the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection about F.L.’s alleged attack upon the attorney. Had Lyft reported the attack to the city, it would have triggered the city’s warning system for rooting out violent drivers. That would have meant that the city would have issued warnings to other providers – such as Uber – about F.L., and theoretically prevented F.L. from getting approved to driver for Uber. (F.L. was driving for Uber at the time that he allegedly killed the taxi driver.)

The attorney’s case has the advantage of alleging wrongdoing that was committed by Lyft itself, not just by the driver. Here, if proven, the attorney’s case would establish that Lyft failed to spot an applicant who had suspended driving privileges, failed to report to the city its driver’s attack on a passenger, and then later failed to spot an obviously fraudulent application. These things could potentially be the basis for a winning claim that Lyft was directly negligent: negligent in its hiring and retention, along with negligent in its reporting of driver-involved attacks.

Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber use independent contractor law to dodge liability for certain passenger injuries. While this technique may make it harder to sue them successfully, it far from makes it impossible… especially when the evidence shows that the damage inflicted was the result of the service’s own direct negligence. If you find yourself needing to sue a rideshare service, make sure you have the skillful legal representation you need. Rely on the experienced Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, who have the knowledge and skill it takes to take on the big rideshare companies. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 312-724-5846 or through our website.