There is a fight going on about Uber, Lyft, and workers compensation. Millions of Americans use Uber drivers and Lyft drivers to request rides. Additionally, across the United States, people order food delivery from Uber drivers using the Uber Eats platform. However, there is currently a nationwide fight about one of those rights. The fight is over drivers’ rights to seek workers’ compensation benefits after an injury.
Uber and Lyft consider their drivers to be independent contracts rather than employees. That is a crucial distinction. In most jurisdictions, laws require companies over a certain size to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees.
However, workers compensation laws give independent contractors no such access to workers’ compensation insurance. Instead, companies force (most) independent contractors to pay for their own medical expenses if they suffer a work related injury.
Companies do not pay Independent contractors while they are missing work due to injury. Therefore, Uber and Lyft do not pay their drivers who are injured on the job. Meanwhile, other employees receive all of the benefits that workers’ compensation provides.
State laws typically govern Uber and Lyft drivers. However, were the American government to somehow treat them as Federal Employees, their rules would be slightly different. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) governs Federal Employees workers compensation. The OWCP is a division of the Department of Labor.
Typical Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation claims typically provide two types of benefits. The first benefit is covering medical treatment incurred as a result of the injury.
In practice, the workers’ comp medical benefit allows the insurance company to exert a great deal of control over the injured worker’s treatment. The insurance company determines which doctors the injured worker can see, provides the authorization for any necessary referrals, and generally acts as a gatekeeper for the entire medical portion of the claim.
Often, the doctors insurance companies elect to use are likely to be conservative in nature. These doctors are unlikely to recommend much medical care and often simply serve as a catspaw to get the injured worker back to work.
Workers’ compensation coverage also provides indemnity benefits. Essentially, this is where the insurance company pays for the lost wages of the injured worker. The insurance company determines the amount they will pay by looking back at the employee’s work history and then averaging the employee’s wages over the previous 13 weeks.
Uber and Lyft’s Fight in California over Workers’ Compensation
Uber and Lyft have long contended that their drivers are independent contractors. This allows them to avoid providing the drivers with health insurance, unemployment, sick time, and other benefits.
In 2019, California lawmakers passed a law requiring Uber and Lyft to treat their drivers as employees. However, the rideshare companies bucked at this requirement. Instead, they initiated a legal challenge, threatened to leave the state, and ultimately took the question to the voters.
California took the vote on “Proposition 22” and California voters chose, overwhelmingly, to allow Uber and Lyft to continue to classify their drivers as independent contractors. Special interest groups and the ridesharing companies continued legal wrangling even after Proposition 22 passed however. Ultimately, though, the state of California sided with Uber Technologies and Lyft. The Uber and Lyft Workers’ compensation fight in California appears to be won.
Call Knapp Accident & Injury Law
If you or someone you know has been injured while driving for Uber, call Knapp Accident & Injury Law at (813) 568-3724. Even though the law will not allow them to receive workers’ compensation benefits, we can help them navigate the process and determine their rights.
Uber and Lyft drivers may not be able to collect workers’ compensation. But an experienced rideshare accident attorney can potentially help them recover for their injuries, even if not through work comp.