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Another incident involving a rideshare service came to light in San Francisco last week, which causes me some additional concern that rideshare companies may not be screening their drivers as well as the should. As you may remember, the rideshare company Uber has been the focus of a controversy involving the death of a young girl who was struck by a driver on New Years Eve. Now Lyft, another such service, is feeling the heat after a video surfaced depicting a Lyft driver punching a pedestrian.

For video click here

The question is, who’s at fault? And more importantly, should Lyft be held accountable for the actions of its drivers while they are on the clock or in between passenger runs?

Because these rideshare services are not taxis, and they are relatively new to the City, it is still unclear who is at fault in the event of injury. If a taxi driver injures a rider or pedestrian, both the taxi driver and the company are at fault. But what about a driver acting as a contractor for a rideshare company? And, if in the case of the Uber fatal pedestrian accident, the driver is between calls, then who is responsible.

Now we have a situation where a Lyft driver gets into an altercation with a pedestrian that turns physical. Is the driver at fault? The company? Or both?

Many, including the city’s taxi drivers, think the company should be liable whenever the driver is in a car used for passenger transport.But would that be fair if a rideshare driver was just driving to the market to pick up a carton of milk? I personally believe that there is too much room to obfuscate about whether a driver was on a rideshare mission or not at the time of any specific crash. With a marked taxicab, any time that cab is in a crash, the commercial policy kicks in and the cab company is accountable. How do we know whether a particular driver was on the clock if there is no passenger is in the back? I believe that the entire rideshare scenario is a fiction aimed at avoiding the overhead of traditional cab companies. While I am often not a big fan of taxi drivers either, at least there are adequate regulations to help protect the public. It seems to me that the rideshare companies and their drivers just want to avoid obeying regulations that would make their business more expensive. I am all for free enterprise, as long as the public safety is maintained.

On Tuesday, January 14th, a former taxi cab driver was filming a Lyft car in the City, illegally parked on the side of the street, when a fight broke out between the former cab driver and the Lyft contractor. According to the former cab driver, too many of these TNCs are behaving inappropriately in the city, parking in crosswalks, blocking ramps, and in front of fire hydrants, and he was attempting to document the Lyft infraction.

The Lyft driver struck the man filming, but was not actively working for Lyft when the incident occurred.

TNCs are required to register for permits with the state’s public utility commission but are not required to register with SFMTA, the agency that oversees taxi cabs in San Francisco.

Although the driver was not actively working for Lyft at the time, Lyft and all TNC/rideshare services need to be held accountable for their contractors, especially if they are displaying the company’s logo to imply affiliation. The fact that the driver left the pink mustache (a Lyft symbol) on the front of the car should be more than an indication of affiliation and employment. With more TNC/rideshare services entering the marketplace and flooding our city streets each day, we need to take measures to ensure accountability and responsibility. They may provide the city a unique and important service, but should not be hurting our residents as a result. Could anyone say that the altercation between the Lyft driver and the former taxi driver was not related to the Lyft business?

The rideshare companies say sometimes that they are “just an app”. Well, the Uber app is worth a fortune, yet they say that they are not a cab company. Lawyers are often accused of using loop holes. Shouldn’t we tighten up the loopholes where ridesharing is concerned?


Hello, I’m Claude Wyle, a San Francisco taxi accident attorney. Have an idea for a topic you’d like to see covered here? Feel free to contact me: or visit


  1. Gravatar for Walter Johnson

    You sir, sound like a "hack" for the taxi lobby. Just curious, but where in the story do you actually tell us about the Lyft driver "attacking a pedestrian? It didn't happen. he was being harassed by a cab driver, and they settled it between themselves. By the way, do you think it's ok for the cab driver to antagonize in the way he did? Come on, Man!!! I can tell that you've chosen a side in this free enterprise drama, but at the very least be fair in your "reporting".

  2. Gravatar for Marcus

    What's wrong Walter? Can't handle the truth of the ride shares that you love so much really are no better than a cab? Who cares if it's a cab driver, truck driver, teacher, doctor or nurse. An assault is an assault. You can't sit there and disobey the laws of the road just because you have a pink mustache on your vehicle. Wake up and join the 21st century. These ride shares are dangerous!

  3. I am only in favor of community safety and do not believe that Uber or Lyft or any other ride share companies should be able to compete in this fair market without being equally responsible and paying the same costs to help assure safety in our community. If the drivers and the rideshare companies are made to carry the same coverage and are held to the same standards of care as taxi companies, then I don’t care if they are competing with the taxi companies. But let's not fool ourselves and buy into this fiction. Uber and Lyft are in this for profit and they make profit from a new system they have created. They should be held responsible and made accountable for collisions and injuries and deaths. And they are encouraging texting and profiting from texting while the drivers are in the cars. The rideshare drivers are playing a dangerous game if they are not advising their insurance companies that they are driving for profit. These drivers may find themselves with coverage denied by their insurance companies, and this would harm the drivers and those they have injured as well. And, please, could we tone down the commentary to keep it polite? I would appreciate open debate without name calling or personal attacks. Thank you, Claude

  4. Gravatar for WBDerby

    Unqualified, not vetted, underinsured, spoiled-rotten minions of the tech giants, instruments of a hostile takeover of transportation protocols that were developed with decades of public impose a non-regulated fleet of cars without a hearing as to the public convenience and necessity...with no service to the paratransit community...Taxis have trained drivers and million dollar insurance policies...

  5. Gravatar for J. Smith

    "Taxis have trained drivers" ? HAHAHAHAHA!! Yeah, trained at reading the Koran at 65 mph maybe. The insurance policy $$ amount may be true, but the "trained driver" part ? NADA !! The qualifications for most- No DUI, pass a drug test, are you breathing, here's the keys. The ridesharing services are cutting into the profits of the "monopoly holders" in personal transportation. And they look for "one off antagonistic events" like this to "feed it to their favorite Presstitute" that's on their side to be exploited. That's pretty easy to see here.

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