Ervin A. Gonzalez Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit against Lyft Ride Service and Driver Involved in Fatal Miami Accident – Lyft Driver Failed to Yield the Right Away Killing Motorcyclist
Attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, partner at the Coral Gables-based law firm Colson Hicks Eidson, today filed a wrongful death negligence lawsuit against Lyft Florida, Inc., a ridesharing transportation service, and one of its Miami drivers who was involved in a fatal crash with a motorcyclist.
The lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, alleges that Lyft neglected to properly train its driver, Pirooz Pakdel, who failed to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist, Loinier Perez of Miami. The victim is survived by his wife, Poliana, who was eight months pregnant with the couple’s first child at the time of the incident.
According to the lawsuit, Perez was struck on October 31 while Pakdel was carrying a pair of Lyft passengers in his 2003 Jeep Liberty. Pakdel struck the motorcycle, the suit says, while making an improper left hand turn from NE 1st Avenue onto NE 36th Street. Perez was hit with such force that he was ejected from his motorcycle. He was pronounced dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center.
The accident raises questions about the upstart car service’s ability to properly train and vet the backgrounds of drivers who offer discount transportation under the Lyft name.
Typically, drivers operate their own automobiles as independent contractors and respond to ride requests from customers who register with the company online. According to the suit, drivers can apply to join Lyft by logging into a company app or web-based portal. They provide information about themselves, including their names, phone numbers, home and email addresses, bank information, vehicle registration, insurance and vehicle description.
“It is the responsibility of taxi services to thoroughly train and vet the backgrounds of drivers before they get behind the wheel of a car to offer transportation services to the public,” said Colson Hicks Eidson partner Ervin A. Gonzalez, who represents the Perez estate along with Susan S. Carlson, who is of counsel at the firm. “In this case, Lyft, which isn’t even authorized to operate in Miami-Dade County, fell far short of its obligation to act in the best interests of public safety.”
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified economic and non-economic damages for Perez’s wife and for her unborn son, alleges that Pakdel lacked the necessary experience and training to operate as driver for hire.
“Defendant Lyft knew or should have known that defendant Pakdel was improperly trained or suited for the job before the date of this incident,” the suit alleges. “Further, defendant Lyft knew or should have known of the unsuitability and lack of proper training of Pakdel at the time he was hired and before the date of the subject incident, and that such unsuitability would result in injury to others, including decedent Loinier Perez.”
The emergence of Lyft as well as Uber, its principal competitor in major U.S. cities and counties, has posed an array of safety and regulatory challenges for local governments that seek to ensure safeguards for consumers who want cheaper car services than those offered by traditional taxi and limousine operations.
In a campaign highlighting alleged risks associated with Lyft and Uber, the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association has raised questions about both firms over safety, insurance, driver background checks and other issues.
In Miami-Dade County, neither Lyft nor Uber is authorized to operate. Officials have used sting operations to issue more than 3,300 citations. They have impounded dozens of cars operated by Lyft and Uber drivers. Both companies have been paying for their drivers’ tickets and impound fees.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez has reportedly said that he hopes to see the county’s taxicab and limousine rules rewritten to legalize both ride services before the end of his year.
In Broward County, Lyft and Uber have been intermittently barred from conducting operations. But in October, county commissioners allowed both companies to operate after resolving a contentious standoff over driver insurance, background checks and other regulatory requirements.