Marez v. Lyft, Inc., 48 Cal.App.5th 569

If you work for a rideshare company such as Lyft and you are in an accident in the car you drive for Lyft, who’s responsible? It’s not always as simple as it looks with these types of common carrier accidents. You may easily identify who is negligent, but who’s responsible?

In Marez v. Lyft, Inc., 48 Cal.App.5th 569, it was held that the ride-sharer was not responsible when the driver was running a personal errand while driving the Lyft Vehicle

The undisputed facts compel the conclusion, as a matter of law, that Gaurano had substantially deviated from any duties he performed for Lyft at the time of the accident. Gaurano had not worked for Lyft on the day of the accident and had no intention of doing so. In the morning, Gaurano parked his vehicle at a location where he knew he would not receive a ticket for the day. He then travelled away from his vehicle and spent the day working for another employer. Lyft did not dictate how Gaurano should commute to this alternative job.
It did not require Gaurano drive the rental vehicle or otherwise control his movements on the day in question. Nor was Gaurano’s commute home from the gaming conference related to his driving for Lyft. Gaurano testified his sole intent at the time of the accident was to go home to eat and sleep. Based on these undisputed facts, we conclude Gaurano was engaged in a purely personal activity at the time of the accident.

For these same reasons, Gaurano’s conduct was not foreseeable. “[T]here must be ‘a nexus between the employee’s tort and the employment to ensure that liability is properly placed upon the employer.’ ” ( Halliburton , supra , 220 Cal.App.4th at p. 95, 162 Cal.Rptr.3d 752.) Here, no connection exists between Gaurano’s actions at the time of the accident—driving home after working at a gaming conference—and Lyft’s business.

The mere fact that Gaurano could have opted to drive for Lyft on the day in question instead of working at a gaming conference does not create such a nexus. There is simply no basis to impose vicarious liability where the employee’s “entire trip serves only his or her own personal purposes.” ( Id . at p. 102, 162 Cal.Rptr.3d 752.)

Marez v. Lyft, Inc., 48 Cal.App.5th 569, 581-82 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020)

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Common Carrier Cases

There are many kinds of cases involving rideshare companies and other common carriers from taxi cabs, limos, and buses. If you need more answers surrounding this topic, explore our rideshare common carrier accidents section.

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