Are Uber and Lyft Drivers Considered Independent Contractors or Employees?

by Gina Corena

Last Updated on September 28,2023

Are Uber and Lyft Drivers Considered Independent Contractors or Employees?

Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies consider their drivers as independent contractors, not employees. Drivers who meet criminal background, driving history, and vehicle requirements can sign up and begin giving rides almost immediately. Rideshare companies do not interview or require drivers to go through a lengthy hiring process. After passing a basic screening, drivers log on to Uber or Lyft, start giving rides, and accepting money from their customers. The companies take a portion of the fare and drivers keep the rest.

Interestingly, as these rideshare companies expanded, we saw the initiation of various services in different cities. For instance, the launch of a rideshare service in Las Vegas showcased the rapid growth and evolution of such platforms. Additionally, as these platforms grow, so does the importance of understanding the complexities surrounding rideshare accidents, given the unique contractor relationship between drivers and the companies.

Uber, Lyft, other rideshare companies, and any other company that contracts out work typically does so for economic reasons. Businesses do not need to offer benefits and have fewer legal obligations towards contracts. This is the case with Uber and Lyft drivers, who also contract to drivers as a way to decrease their liability when a driver causes a traffic accident.

If you have suffered injuries in a rideshare accident in Las Vegas, contact the skilled Uber accident lawyers or Lyft accident lawyers at Gina Corena & Associates to learn more about your legal options to recover compensation for your injuries.

Contractors vs. Employees at Rideshare Companies

When rideshare companies first came on the scene over a decade ago, they did not have to comply with special regulations. As the popularity of Uber and Lyft increases, drivers caused accidents, and riders along with others on the road faced more risk for injury, state legislatures started taking notice. Additionally, drivers have begun to fight for the change of status because they do not get paid time off, sick leave, nor do they qualify for unemployment, which is especially important after the onset of the global pandemic.

State legislatures have stepped up and implemented laws forcing Uber and Lyft to classify drivers as employees, and the rideshare companies’ responses have been to bring a lawsuit. In other states, drivers have sued Uber for recognition as employees, with courts often agreeing even though the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that Uber drivers are not employees.  Colopy v. Uber Technologies is a recent case that might ultimately force Uber and Lyft and other rideshare companies to make sweeping changes in employment status.

Colopy v. Uber Technologies

San Francisco Uber driver, Thomas Colopy, brought a class action suit against Uber concerning the classification of drivers as independent contractors. In December 2019, a San Francisco U.S. District Judge ruled that Colopy had a viable claim against Uber. Previous cases and California’s bill requires companies to show the work a contractor performs is “outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.”  Uber argues it is a technology app, not a transportation business, which gives them the right to classify drivers as independent contractors.

Currently, Uber and Lyft drivers are still independent contractors in Nevada and most other states. Yet, the tides are turning and it’s not unreasonable to think this could change in the near future. Drivers want this change for better pay and benefits. Also, hiring drivers as employees puts more responsibility on Uber and Lyft for training and hiring, potentially decreasing traffic accidents caused by rideshare drivers.

How Does Driver Classification Impact Uber or Lyft Claims?

Driver classification impacts personal injury claims to the extent that those who suffer injuries in an Uber or Lyft accident might be able to sue for a greater amount depending on the situation. Currently, rideshare drivers have different insurance coverage based on whether they are signed in to the app, waiting for a ride request, or transporting a ride. Under this system, Uber and Lyft riders can typically sue for more than a motorist in another vehicle who suffers injuries from an accident caused by an Uber or Lyft driver not carrying passengers.

Uber and Lyft insurance coverage for drivers and their passengers includes:

  • $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per individual when signed in and waiting for a ride
  • $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident when signed in and waiting for a ride
  • $1,000,000 in bodily injury liability coverage when rideshare drivers have a passenger in their vehicle

Uber and Lyft do not provide insurance for drivers who are signed out of the app. In these situations, injured accident victims must file a claim with the driver’s personal or commercial insurance policy.

In the event that a court ruling forces Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies to classify drivers as employees, companies will have more direct responsibility for drivers, which opens them up to liability for an accident. As direct employers, Uber and Lyft will be responsible for hiring, training, implementing safety protocols, reprimanding accident-prone drivers, and reprimanding drivers who receive traffic citations. If rideshare companies do not uphold these types of responsibilities towards employees, a court might find them negligent and liable for damages from a Lyft or Uber accident.

Steps After Suffering Injuries in an Uber or Lyft Accident

If you suffer injuries while riding with Uber or as a motorist or passenger in another vehicle, take the following steps to stay safe and collect the information you need to file an accident claim.

Seek Medical Treatment

Your health and safety is top priority. If you are in a severe accident, you will likely be transported to the nearest hospital via ambulance. If, however, you are fortunate enough to walk away from the accident, you still need to get checked out by a doctor soon after the accident. A physician can evaluate your injuries, even if they are minor. Your medical record serves as valuable evidence for an accident claim.

Gather Information

If you are physically able, gather as much information as possible at the scene of the accident. Most will be in the official police report if an ambulance immediately transports you away from the scene. Get the Uber or Lyft driver’s insurance information and vehicle information. Also, get contact information for the driver and any witnesses. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident scene, property damage, and any visible bodily injury.

Contact an Experienced Lyft and Uber Accident Lawyer

Rideshare accidents are complex cases and you deserve the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. Let an experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyer from Gina Corena & Associates guide you through the claims process and deal with the insurance companies while you focus on healing. Contact us today online or at 702-680-1111 for a free consultation.

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