Can a Rideshare Driver Pursue Workers’ Comp?
On May 8, 2019, drivers from various ride-hailing companies organized a nation-wide strike to challenge an increasingly exploitative business model – and failed. Back in 2010, the public enthusiastically embraced ridesharing startups for providing convenient transportation services at cost-effective prices. These companies were also highly praised for offering potentially-lucrative employment opportunities to thousands of struggling Americans. However, public opinion quickly soured as drivers and state regulators filed hundreds of administrative and class-action lawsuits based on workers’ rights violations.
The rideshare business model is simple: a customer downloads a company’s app, inputs their credit card or PayPal information, and then requests a ride. A driver, in turn, gets paid depending on how many rides they accept during their self-imposed working hours. Because these companies maintain that their drivers are independent contractors – not employees – they don’t have to pay them a minimum wage or provide them with benefits.
Since 2016, current and former rideshare drivers have been fighting for minimum wage protections, union rights, health insurance, and other benefits, including workers’ compensation. Sadly, these companies are known for sidestepping regulations, lowering labor standards, and employing unethical tactics to block progressive legislative efforts.
Why Do Drivers Want Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance program that provides wage replacement opportunities and medical benefits to sick or injured employees. Considering that Mississippi is currently ranked as the deadliest state for motorists, it’s no wonder that our local rideshare drivers want workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, rideshare companies have been lobbying to protect their economic model, and workers’ compensation, at present, just isn’t an option for rideshare drivers.
That said, Uber started offering a program that is similar to workers’ compensation in 2018.
The Uber Driver Injury Protection Program
In August 2018, Uber yielded to public pressure by developing a disability insurance program that provides coverage through Aon P.L.C. and OneBeacon Insurance Group. The “Driver Injury Protection” program is currently available to Uber drivers in 40 states and Washington D.C. It is not accessible to drivers working for other ridesharing companies.
After the new program was unveiled, Brad Nail, Uber’s senior risk and public policy manager, issued the following statement to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Workers’ Compensation Task Force: “I think we start by identifying that there is an opportunity – there is in fact some need – around benefits for Uber drivers, as an example. Some of those drivers can benefit from insurance coverage to protect them from work-related injuries. Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors and thus do not receive traditional workers’ compensation.”
Supposedly, the Driver Injury Protection program is tailored to specifically meet the needs of rideshare drivers, as it was designed to reflect a usage-based pricing model that costs drivers 3.5 cents to the mile. To be eligible for benefits, an Uber driver needs to be logged into the app and in the process of transporting passengers.
An Uber driver can receive the following benefits after an accident:
- Up to $1 million for accidental medical expenses
- Up to $500 per week in disability benefits
- Up to $50,000 in death benefits
- Up to $150,000 in survivor benefits
You can learn more about this program by visiting the Uber website.
Do You Require Legal Representation After a Rideshare Accident?
Contact the car accident attorneys at Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. if you’ve been injured in a rideshare collision. While rideshare drivers aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation, you can still pursue compensatory damages by filing a third-party claim against the at-fault driver. Our experienced legal team can investigate your case, collect evidence that supports your claim, and help you pursue a settlement or verdict that reflects your financial needs and legal objectives.
Call Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. at (601) 869-0696 to schedule a free case evaluation.