By Tim McNicholas | WBBM via CNN
CHICAGO – A South Side Lyft driver says his own passenger carjacked him, and the police later found his car wrecked. Then, thanks to Lyft’s insurance policy, he was told to pay a $2,500 deductible to get reimbursed for the car.
The driver says one of the carjackers even punched him in the face a couple of times. He is one of more than 1,400 carjacking victims this year in the City of Chicago. That figure has more than doubled since last year.
The drop off location was supposed to be 99th and Throop.
“Next thing I know I got a gun to my head,” said Lyft Driver James Durkin. “I get out. The other passenger gets out, hits me a couple times. If you ever had a gun put you, you know one wrong move, and it’s all over.”
Durkin said the passengers took off with his car, wallet and phone, so he started walking until he found a police officer, who drove him home that November morning.
Days later he saw an email notification that someone had ordered Uber Eats after the carjacking with his family’s credit card.
“They got my driver’s license. My wife’s scared to death someone was going to show up at the house,” Durkin said.
About a week later, the Chicago Police Department found his car severely damaged, he said.
“Motor wouldn’t turn over,” he said. “I knew it was a total loss.”
The claim with through Lyft’s insurance policy with Progressive. He was offered just under $10,000 — the value of the car minus the $2,500 deductible. He knew about the high deductible with Lyft, but he hoped in this case it might be waived since he was not at fault.
“Even though I’m an independent contractor, I work off of what you give me,” Durkin said. “You gave me a bad ride, and you’re charging me $2,500.”
He let Lyft know his thoughts, and they sent a $100 ride credit for “any of your transportation needs.”
“One hundred dollars for almost losing my life for picking up somebody they gave me to? Not too good,” said Durkin.
“With Lyft it’s $2,500, which is the highest I have seen in any policy,” said attorney Bryant Greening.
Greening said he has heard similar stories through his Chicago-based firm LegalRideshare.
“I would imagine that they keep the deductible so high, so they don’t have to pay out on every little claim that comes through,” he said. “But $2,500 is too high for anybody to swallow.”
“I will change my hours of operation,” Durkin said.
He said police have followed up with him, but he never got a good look at the suspects, and he has not heard of any arrests. He did get four red light tickets in the mail from the week the thieves had his car. They city has agreed to waive those.
After CBS 2 reached out to Lyft with questions Monday, Durkin said they called him and suddenly agreed to waive his deductible. But that is just for this case. They are not changing the rules for other drivers.
Lyft would not say whether they could trace the ride back to the carjackers. A spokesperson only said the company is in touch with the police and has deactivated that rider’s account. A spokesperson said they cannot comment on individual insurance claims or an active police investigation but did release the following statement:
“Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and the incident described is deeply disturbing. We have been in communication with the driver and continue to offer our support and assistance. We deactivated the rider’s account and have been in contact with law enforcement regarding any investigation.”