The mother of a 13-year-old girl who was killed in a South Florida crash involving her 17-year-old boyfriend is suing rideshare service Lyft, alleging the honor roll student would never have been out that night in the first place had a driver not taken her there at 1:30 a.m. without supervision.
It is reportedly in Lyft’s policy that drivers are not supposed to transport unaccompanied minors to destinations. In this case, according to The Palm Beach Post, the girl’s parents believed her to be in her bed asleep on the night in question. Her grandmother was asleep. Her mother, a nurse, was working the night shift. Around 1:30 a.m., the girl contacted the raid-hailing service and requested a ride from her home in Boynton Beach across town to her boyfriend’s house in Greenacres. A driver with the service reportedly picked her up and dropped her off without issue or question.
She was there for several hours until around 5:30 a.m. At that time, the teen’s boyfriend took his mother’s Ford pickup truck to drive the girl home. He had a learner’s permit that required him to be accompanied by a driver at least 21-years-old in the front passenger seat. Instead, he and his girlfriend – neither of whom were wearing seat belts – ventured out alone on a rain-slicked road.
When they were within five miles of the girl’s home, the boyfriend/ driver lost control of his mother’s truck and slammed into a cluster of trees. Investigating officers say there is no evidence of alcohol or drug use, and authorities have declined to press criminal charges against the teen, though they say he could be cited for various traffic infractions.
Meanwhile, attorneys for the bereaved mother, who is suing Lyft in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, say the Lyft driver who initially transported the girl to her boyfriend’s home violated a company policy that prohibits motorists from transporting children under 17 alone. If not for this improper action, plaintiff alleges, the girl would never have been in the truck that morning of the fatal car accident.
Initially, the wrongful death lawsuit also named the boyfriend/ driver and his mother, who owned the vehicle. The claim against the boy’s mother was later dropped, though the case against the boyfriend is still pending.
In decedent mother’s complaint, the driver for the ridesharing service did not speak any English. Further, he was reportedly not aware that the company prohibited him from picking up minors alone. The girl was in her pajamas when she left. Plaintiff says she did not even know her daughter had a boyfriend, let alone the boy’s identity prior to the crash. The pair reportedly decided to have the boyfriend drive her back after finding out his parent’s balance on their Lyft account was too low to get her home.
Defendant rideshare service alleges it is not liable, filing a motion to dismiss on grounds some four hours had passed from the time of its driver’s actions and the time of the crash. The company can’t be responsible for the girl’s death, attorneys say, because of a legal theory known as intervening cause. An intervening cause is an event that occurs after a tortfeasor’s initial act of negligence and causes injury or harm to plaintiff/ decedent. Generally, an intervening cause will absolve the wrongdoer of liability for victim’s injury, but only if the subsequent event is deemed the superseding cause.
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EXCLUSIVE: PBSO: Teen driver won’t be criminally charged in girl’s death, Sept. 20, 2017, Palm Beach Post
More Blog Entries:
Meeting Obligations Under Your Auto Insurance Policy, Sept. 19, 2017, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Blog