Rideshare Drivers: Employees Or Contractors? It Makes A Difference For Accident Victims
Are Uber or Lyft (rideshare) drivers employees of these companies, or independent contractors? There are a lot of issues that relate to this fundamental question, but from a car accident victim’s standpoint, the answer to these questions can make a big difference. That’s because a driver that is an employee allows a victim to sue Uber or Lyft for the actions of the driver.
The Arguments on Both Sides
On the one hand are the rideshare companies. They contend that if the drivers are classified as employees, the cost of doing business goes up. Rideshares get more expensive, and they may be less likely to hire drivers.
Additionally, they contend that rideshare drivers can usually work when they want, and what they do when driving or picking up passengers is largely not controlled by the companies, making them contractors. Rideshare is, they say, part of the “gig economy,” which naturally involves contractors, not employees.
Rideshare drivers say that they should be employees; their tips are disbursed by the rideshare companies, and their activities monitored while they are driving for the companies, all hallmarks of control that indicate employees, not contractors.
Making matters more complex is that many states have had differing opinions on whether drivers are contractors or employees, and the federal government has up until now, been silent on the issue.
How Victims are Affected
Accident victims, and liability for rideshare drivers who cause accidents, is not at the forefront of the employee vs. contractor argument—but the outcome of that argument will have an impact on injury cases brought against rideshare companies.
Many victims want drivers to be classified as full employees. Right now, a Lyft or Uber passenger can sue the driver—and many drivers are required by law to have excess insurance—but making the drivers employees of Uber or Lyft would allow a car accident victim in a rideshare driver accident to hold not just the driver, but the companies responsible.
It may also allow a victim in a rideshare car accident to sue for other theories, normally based on employee-employer relationships, like negligent entrustment, vicarious liability or the failure to conduct background checks on drivers.
Changes are Coming
For rideshare car accident victims, it looks like good news may be on the way.
In order to give drivers protections and benefits that employees have, the current administration looks like it may be set to call drivers employees. The government is trying to make the drivers employees, but not entitle them to the full benefits that full employees would get, so as not to raise the costs of doing business for lyft and Uber.
While that move is largely to help the drivers with benefits that employees get some benefits and legal protections on the job, it will also help accident victims, allowing them to sue Uber, Lyft, and others, for accidents caused by their drivers.
Have you been injured while in a Lyft or Uber or other rideshare accident? Call the Boston personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. today at 617-275-4200 for help.