Lawsuit claims Lyft driver in fatal wreck was distracted by app

Posted Mar 10, 2017 at 12:01 AM Updated Sep 25, 2018 at 10:15 AM | by Ryan Autullo @AutulloAAS

 

A family that already has settled with Uber in a wrongful death lawsuit is now targeting its rideshare rival Lyft, claiming the company’s phone app caused one of its drivers to take his eyes off the road before a wreck that killed a woman and her daughter two years ago in Williamson County.

An attorney representing the family of decedents Irene and Kate Edwards said the driver, Kevin Eldredge, was working for Uber on Oct. 10, 2015, when he picked up the family to take them to an engagement party. Eldredge, who also was approved to drive for Lyft, tried to set up an appointment with a Lyft customer, according to the lawsuit, when his Nissan Altima made a left turn and collided with a Chrysler minivan on Palm Valley Boulevard in Round Rock.

Neither driver was cited, according to the accident report.

Lyft has since modified its app to prevent drivers from pulling up another ride share application while driving for Lyft. Had those safeguards been in place at the time, said the family’s attorney, Jason McMinn, “there would have never been a collision and these people would be alive today.”

Family members settled with Uber for a “substantial” amount, said McMinn, adding they also settled with the minivan driver, Jason Lemmond. They are seeking $1 million or more from Lyft.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Travis County district court, reads: “Plaintiffs would show that Lyft was aware of this foreseeable risk of harm and persisted in designing these defective cellular applications in light of this know (sic) risk.”

Lyft released a statement saying, “we are deeply saddened to hear about this tragic incident and our thoughts are with those involved.” The company confirmed Eldredge was authorized to drive for them, but had never actually given a ride on that platform.

Two surviving victims were hospitalized, McMinn said: Rick Edwards, the husband of Irene Edwards and the father of Kate Edwards, and David Foy, the fiancé of Kate Edwards. They were to be married the next month.

In May, Lyft and Uber ceased operations in Austin after voters upheld a rule that would require the companies to vet prospective drivers with fingerprint background checks.

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