When an independent contractor gets injured on the job, the injured worker is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits like employees are. The injured worker could choose to sue the company for negligence, but those cases can take a long time and the injured worker may be desperate for income if he or she is unable to work and facing medical bills.
Uber, Lyft, and similar ride-sharing companies typically classify their drivers as independent contractors, meaning they are left without workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured in an accident. Studies show that driving passengers for hire is one of the country’s most dangerous jobs, both because of automobile accidents as well as workplace violence. Although Uber and Lyft say that their drivers are safer than taxi drivers because their drivers do not carry cash and their passengers’ identities are known, there have still been incidents of passengers attacking drivers.
Workers’ compensation is a huge benefit that most independent contractors are unaware that they do not have. Currently, there are about 129 million workers in the U.S. who are covered by workers’ compensation programs. Typically, workers’ compensation covers medical expenses, a percentage of lost wages, and can provide money for permanent disabilities. Employers also get protection from lawsuits from injured employees if they provide workers’ compensation coverage.
Unfortunately, some rideshare companies have a reputation for providing inadequate insurance or protections for drivers who get in an accident. In fact, many ridesharing drivers discover that they actually get more compensation from the insurance company for the other vehicle involved in the accident than from the ridesharing company.
Many workers who get hired by a company are thrilled that they have found employment, and do not stop to consider whether or not the company intends to classify them as employees or independent contractors. However, whether or not a worker is an employee or an independent contractor is a critical difference. Employees have a lot of additional benefits that come with being an employee instead of an independent contractor. Therefore, employees typically get paid less per hour for doing the same work as an independent contractor.
The IRS has established tests to determine whether or not a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. In general, if a company controls what will be done and how it is done, the worker is an employee. If a company only has the right to control the result of the work, but not what will be done and how it will be done, the worker is probably an independent contractor.
Unfortunately, it’s very common for employees to intentionally misclassify workers as independent contractors when they are actually employees, so that they do not have to offer them workers’ compensation, medical insurance, time off, or a variety of other benefits to which employees are entitled. The worker may not know he or she is an independent contractor until tax season, or may never find out.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that employers should follow the law when it comes to classifying their workers. If they fail to do so, and a worker misses out on key benefits to which he or she is entitled, the employer should be held liable. If you have been involved in an accident and are concerned about workers’ compensation insurance, call the San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Liberty Law at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. We can help. We work with clients throughout the Bay area, including Hayward, Tracy, Oakland, Fairfield, San Jose, and the surrounding areas. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case.