Are Uber & Lyft Drivers Employees or Independent Contractors?

nullBecoming more popular year after year, ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft rake in profits by the billions. However, these companies are also known for being embroiled in numerous controversies. As a result, Uber has paid out well over $100 million in penalties to customers who have been victims of sexual assault or auto accidents with their vehicles, as well as other situations. 

Currently, the biggest issue facing ridesharing companies is whether their drivers are classified as employees or independent contractors. While this sounds inconsequential, it is anything but that. Should you be involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft vehicle, how a driver is classified may determine how much liability the company must accept, which in turn may determine how much compensation you as the victim can expect to receive. 

Employee vs. Independent Contractor

As for how courts determine whether a person is an employee or independent contractor for a ridesharing company, several factors are considered. These include whether the person’s job is a key part of the business, how much direct control the company has over the workers’ daily duties, if the company provides a benefits package to the worker, and whether or not the company supplies tools or reimbursements to the worker. 

Tort Law and Liability

When accidents of this nature occur, tort law liability plays a large role in determining who will shoulder the majority of the liability to victims. Under tort law, the person who commits an error, negligent or otherwise, that injures another person is considered to be responsible for compensation. Compensation paid out in personal injury cases can include various damages such as pain and suffering, as well as medical bills or lost income. 

Employee and Independent Contractor Liability

In most instances, employers do not assume liability for any actions of individuals whom they have classified as independent contractors. In these situations, written agreements are usually in place stating the independent contractor acts separately from the company and thus is responsible for their actions. 

However, workers who are classified as employees create far more liability issues for employers. Should their carelessness, misconduct, or even honest mistakes result in personal injury to others, the employer can be held liable.

California AB5

With the passage of California AB5 by state legislature, the state has set itself apart from previous rulings by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. Under AB5, rideshare employees for Uber and Lyft are now considered to be employees, meaning accident victims can hold Uber and Lyft directly responsible for their injuries sustained in an accident involving a company vehicle.

Suing for an Uber or Lyft Accident

Though Uber and Lyft will still try to place most of the blame for an accident on the company’s driver, the fact is AB5 now allows you as an accident victim to hold the company directly responsible for any damages you sustained.

Economic Damages
When you are involved in an Uber or Lyft vehicle accident, you will be able to sue the company for various economic damages, like bodily injury and property damage. 

Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need multiple surgeries and treatments. You also may have to take time off work, thus further impacting your financial stability. If your laptop was destroyed in the crash, then you can also include the cost of a new computer in your demand for compensation.

Once you have your consultation with a car accident lawyer, you will discover you can sue for various damages, such as: 

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Property damage

Non-Economic Damages
When people are involved in these situations, they often focus solely on their economic damages. However, they can also sue for non-economic damages that can result in thousands of dollars in additional compensation. 

These damages usually include: 

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of their enjoyment of life

What About Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant has shown gross negligence or an act of malice leading up to the crash. These kinds of damages are meant to serve as additional punishment to ensure the defendant understands the severity of their actions and will drive more carefully in the future.

Though these damages are awarded to accident victims in only about five percent of all personal injury lawsuits, you may still want to speak to your personal injury attorney. They will know what the chances are that you will receive punitive damages in your settlement.

Ridesharing Employment Law

Since accidents involving ridesharing vehicles are still somewhat new to many law firms, most lack the in-depth understanding of the nuances involved in these cases. To ensure you get experienced and caring legal professionals working on your ridesharing accident case, schedule a consultation with Accident Lawyers Firm.