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Lyft needs to do more to protect its drivers, lawyer says after releasing videos showing driver, two passengers ducking from gunfire

The driver plans to file a civil suit against the company in the coming weeks.

Video shows the moment shots are fired at a Lyft driver and his passengers during a ride Dec. 19, 2021, in Woodlawn.
LegalRideshare

An attorney for a Lyft driver claims the company left his client to fend for himself after a gunman shot at the driver and his two passengers, shattering his car’s back window, in Woodlawn on the South Side last month.

Attorney Bryant Greening released two videos he said were taken by the driver’s dashboard camera early on Dec. 19. They show the driver speeding through traffic as he repeatedly tries to contact Lyft’s emergency team, then ducking along with the two backseat passengers as shots are fired from an SUV.

No one was hit by the gunfire, but the driver was later beaten by friends of the passengers when he dropped them off, according to the videos.

Greening called on Lyft to do more to protect its drivers, including real-time emergency assistance and regular screening and background checks of passengers.

“Ride-share companies advertise that their services are safe and tout their purported safety features,” Greening said Tuesday. “Yet in this case, we see a driver begging for assistance and being left stranded and vulnerable.”

There was no immediate comment from Lyft.

Greening said he plans to file a lawsuit against the company “in the coming weeks.” For now, he said, the driver does not want to be publicly identified.

The harrowing ride began around 2:50 a.m. when the driver, 52, picked up two passengers near the University of Chicago. The video shows the two passengers ducking low into their seats as they demand the driver speed away.

As the Lyft driver stops at a red light in the 600 block of East 67th Street, a black SUV approaches from behind, pulls alongside and someone inside opens fire.

A bullet shatters the back window of the driver’s Honda Accord. “Go, go, go can you go fast please,” one of the passengers screams over and over, according to the video.

As he speeds off, the driver notifies Lyft’s emergency team through the ride-share’s app, as he’s been trained to do, Greening said. “Help me. Call police,” he tells a safety agent.

The SUV cuts off the chase and the Lyft driver drops the passengers in the 6500 block of South King Drive, where he is then beaten by the passenger’s friends, according to the videos.

Several people are seen striking the driver after someone opens the door. Greening said one of the passengers may also have been involved.

The driver escaped and flagged down officers. Police confirmed that they are investigating the shooting and the beating, but released no other details.

Greening said Lyft never notified police on its own, and the company has not offered support for any injuries to the driver or damage to his car.

“The dash cam footage is Exhibit A on how ride-share companies fail their drivers,” Greening said. “Lyft promised that there were systems in place to protect drivers from violent attacks, but when push came to shove, our client was ducking bullets and taking fists to the face.”

Greening said his client intends to seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress.