Historically, Uber has proclaimed that its drivers are independent contractors, not direct employees. Uber drivers can sign up and get started driving very quickly: They need not go through a complex hiring process, and they receive payment from the riders they carry, though the rideshare company takes a cut. That strategy not only changes the way Uber drivers get paid and Uber’s obligation to those drivers, it also decreases Uber’s liability when an Uber driver causes an accident. If you have been in an accident as a rideshare driver then contact the skilled uber and lyft accident attorneys at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC.
Some state legislatures around the country are starting to disagree and pass laws that essentially classify rideshare drivers as employees. Uber and Lyft are suing.
The courts are starting to disagree with Uber and Lyft, too. In a landmark move, the judge in Vikin Daniel vs. Dwayne Quiney (A-18-779564-C) held that Uber drivers are employees, not independent contractors. Around the country, rideshare drivers have started fighting for recognition as employees, not just contractors—and many courts are holding that Uber, not the riders, employs those drivers.
In O Connor v. Uber Techs., Inc., 82 F. Supp. 3d 1133 (N.D. Cal. 2015), the state upheld Uber drivers’ position as employees of the company. One of the primary factors in determining this status? Uber’s ability to discontinue employment at will. The court noted that Uber consistently terminated the position of drivers whose star ratings fell below a certain level, suggesting that Uber does, in fact, use its drivers as employees, not contractors.
With more than one-third of workers across the United States currently classified as contractors, the way America does business has changed dramatically during recent years—and the way the court handles many situations will change to reflect that, including this new recognition of Uber drivers and other contractual employees as actual employees of the companies they work for. As that recognition increases, it could change many legal concerns, including the way accident victims file personal injury claims.
How Does This Recognition Change Personal Injury Claims?
Uber, like Lyft, provides its drivers with insurance when they actively carry riders in their vehicles. The insurance provides coverage for both drivers and their passengers when they suffer serious injuries in an accident caused by the Uber driver. Uber insurance offers:
- $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per individual injured while waiting for a ride request
- $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident, even if multiple people suffer injuries in the same accident, while waiting for a ride request
- $1,000,000 in third party liability coverage when the driver has a ride in the vehicle
Previously, Uber and Lyft drivers counted as contractors of the business they drove for. While those drivers picked up clients through the app and in connection with the company, they did not work for the company directly.
By acknowledging rideshare drivers as employees, not just contractors, however, the court issues a ruling that can change the way Uber and Lyft drivers interact with the company—and the way accident victims handle their personal injury claims after an accident.
- Uber has more direct responsibility for its employees. Like other employers who use commercial drivers on a regular basis, Uber must institute reasonable rules and policies for its drivers. Unlike many employees, Uber drivers already have the right to decide when and if they want to drive. They may, for example, choose not to drive in unsafe weather conditions, or to avoid getting behind the wheel while ill. Because Uber drivers can choose when they want to drive, Uber claims it does not bear liability for drivers’ decisions to drive in those poor conditions. Uber should, however, maintain expectations for its drivers, including a clear code of conduct. This may include removing drivers from its payroll who have more than one accident or who routinely engage in unsafe behavior. Uber may also need to take a hard look at citations acquired by drivers, both before and after they start working for the company. When Uber fails in its responsibilities, it may bear more direct liability for accidents caused by its drivers.
- Uber may face direct liability for injuries suffered in accidents with its drivers. While Uber-provided insurance can help provide a great deal of compensation for its drivers and the people they hurt, Uber may also face liability directly if the company fails to maintain policies that will keep riders and others who share the road with its drivers safe.
What Should You Do if You Suffer Injuries in an Uber Accident?
If you suffer injuries in an accident with a known Uber driver, or if you suffer injuries in an accident while in an Uber vehicle, make sure you take these three steps to protect yourself after that accident.
- Collect contact information for the driver. You will need the driver’s insurance information, including insurance provided by Uber, to help you file a car accident claim that will cover the cost of your injuries after an accident.
- Seek medical attention. Any time you have an accident, even if you believe you suffered only fairly minor injuries, have a medical professional evaluate the full extent of your injuries. A medical evaluation will provide evidence of when your injuries occurred and let you know the full extent of your injuries.
- Contact an attorney. An experienced car accident attorney will keep an eye on the way the court chooses to treat Uber drivers, including whether the court classifies those drivers as employees or contractors. An attorney will also work with you to increase the odds that you will receive the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. The attorney may collect evidence about the Uber driver, including evaluating any past accidents or tickets acquired by the driver.
As services like Uber and Lyft continue to evolve, the way the court handles the companies’ employees will continue to evolve along with it. In answer, the way that victims, attorneys, and the courts handle personal injury claims may also change.
Contact an Uber accident lawyer now to learn more about how these changes may affect you after an accident.
Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC
626 S 10th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101