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Uber Battles on Defending Workers’ “Independent Contractor” Status

  • Jul 31 2017

Is Uber liable for personal injuries caused by its drivers’ negligence?

California Uber and Lyft ride-sharing accident attorneys have been following a San Francisco case against Uber regarding driver classification and the impact the outcome may have not just in the context of labor law, but on liability in personal injury claims based on an Uber driver’s negligence.

As we’ve previously reported on this blog, Uber, the ride-sharing giant, has been embroiled in litigation nationwide wherein its workers have challenged the company’s classification of its drivers as “independent contractors” rather than as “employees”. “Employee” classification would entitle Uber drivers to benefits and workplace protections such as minimum wage, Workers’ Compensation and more. Maintaining an “independent contractor” classification accordingly provides Uber and similar ride-sharing companies monumental savings. Uber has repeatedly vigorously defended and/or settled similar suits in several states to fend off employer status for labor purposes.

The highly-anticipated outcome of a lawsuit brought by 385,000 past and present Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts who sued for employee status has reportedly resulted in a settlement pending the judge’s approval wherein Uber drivers will be classified as independent contractors rather than employees in exchange for a generous cash settlement and other worker-friendly terms.

While this is a victory for Uber for labor law purposes, the case did not specifically address the company’s liability for purposes of worker negligence in personal injury or wrongful death cases.  And while other states’ courts have been “more receptive” to ride-sharing companies “arguments that they’re ‘just an app'” the law in California has been interpreted as leaning towards finding the ride-share driver to be “an employee for purposes of negligence” in other cases.

Until there is a specific ruling on company liability to third parties, accident victims who suffer personal injuries or die as a result of ride-share driver’s negligence may find more favorable rulings from the court than workers seeking better benefits have found.

In a personal injury action, the victim must prove not only that they suffered specific damages, but that their injuries were caused by the negligent, intentional, or reckless conduct of someone else. Once liability is established, compensatory damages for items including medical expenses, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering, and more may be recovered.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an Uber or Lyft ride-sharing accident, the personal injury attorneys J&Y Law Firm have extensive experience in those claims and can help you. Call us today at 888-806-6722 for a free consultation. With 21 offices throughout Northern and Southern California, including our headquarters in Los Angeles, compassionate legal help is always close by.

Posted in: UBER AND LYFT RIDE SHARING