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Articles Posted in Uber/Lyft

The news has been ominous these last several months for Uber and Lyft drivers. In addition to the many other challenges these drivers face on the job, they’ve also been targeted in an increasing number of carjackings lately, including right here in and around Chicago. According to many Uber and Lyft drivers, part of the reason their jobs are so dangerous is Uber and Lyft’s failure to do their part and take reasonable measures to ensure safe rides. No one should have to fear that their job as a rideshare driver will cost them their life. If you’ve been hurt while working as a rideshare driver, it may have been because Uber or Lyft didn’t do enough to protect you. Reach out to an experienced Chicago injury attorney to find out how you may be entitled to compensation.

One of the more notorious recent incidents was a driver’s death in Washington, D.C. A 66-year-old Uber Eats driver was carjacked by two teenage girls. After the girls took off, the car crashed with the man partially in and partially out of his Honda sedan, according to a CBS News report. He died at the scene.

Closer to home, a Lyft driver working on Chicago’s South Side told WGN that he was “thankful to be alive” after a late 2020 carjacking. After picking up two riders, the driver found a gun pointed at his head. He surrendered his phone, wallet, and vehicle to the men, and they did not kill him.

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A change in the federal regulations could have a massive impact on the people who drive for Uber or Lyft, including the thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in Illinois. The removal of a rule released under the Trump Administration means that it will now be harder for companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as independent contractors (as opposed to employees,) which means it will be relatively easier for those drivers to obtain benefits like workers’ compensation. If you were hurt while driving for Uber or Lyft, be sure to act without delay in contacting a knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer.

Back in early January, the U.S. Department of Labor released a new rule that clarified who did – and did not – qualify as employees as opposed to independent contractors under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the standard created by that rule, it was relatively easier for employers to classify workers as independent contractors and not run afoul of the law and federal regulators.

Under the Biden Administration, that rule is no more. In withdrawing the rule effective May 6, the current Labor Department said that the previous rule did not properly reflect the text of the FLSA and relevant judicial rulings.

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Recently, we have heard a great deal about the dangers that unsafe drivers driving for services like Uber and Lyft represent. While the threat posed by drivers who never should have been authorized by their rideshare services remains very real, the problem is bigger than just rideshare drivers. In addition to those drivers, there is also a similar danger posed by certain food delivery drivers (driving for services like Uber Eats, Door Dash and Grubhub,) as an incident from right here in Chicago illustrates. If you’ve been hurt by a food delivery driver who shouldn’t have been driving for that service, you may be able to bring a legal action and recover much-needed compensation. Reach out to a knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney to find out more.

In this Chicago case, the platform being brought to court was Grubhub. The victim was a Lake View East restaurant worker who was run over and drug for several feet by a man who was driving for Grubhub. The injured woman suffered several broken bones, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Those included a broken pelvis, two broken arms and fractures in both legs. She also suffered nerve damage to both arms and required surgery on both of them, according to her attorneys.

In her lawsuit against Grubhub, she asserted that it contributed to the very serious accident through its negligence. Grubhub’s app allegedly allowed the driver, who was not licensed to drive and (according to Grubhub) was not one of its authorized drivers, to access the platform through the account of another individual who was an authorized driver.

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Self-driving cars are back in the news again. Uber is reportedly in negotiations with a competitor, Aurora, in which Uber would sell its Advanced Technologies Group (which includes Uber’s self-driving vehicle unit) to Aurora. Also, Tesla is expanding what it calls “full self-driving beta.” Driverless Waymo vans are going public in Arizona. While this may all seem very exciting, there remains the issue of safety and the accidents caused by self-driving vehicles. When that happens, and someone’s hurt, who’s liable? For answers to this and other important questions, be sure you are getting the information you need from a knowledgeable Chicago car accident attorney.

In some circumstances, the law may dictate that the person in the car is the person who is liable for the injuries you suffered, even if the vehicle was equipped with self-driving technology. If, for example, the technology inside the vehicle was merely a “driver assist” program and the accident occurred because the human was paying no attention to the road, then that person is going to be the one who bears most or all of the legal liability.

There are, however, several situations in which an accident caused by a technology-equipped vehicle may offer more legal opportunities to you beyond just suing the person behind the wheel. For example, the self-driving Waymo vans in the East Valley area of Phoenix will be completely driverless. There will no human behind the wheel whose job it is to assist the vehicle. In a scenario where a Waymo van causes a crash, then there could obviously be an opportunity for legal action against Waymo and/or Alphabet, Inc., of which Waymo is a division. (Alphabet’s divisions also include Google.) Back in October, Venture Beat reported that driverless Waymo cars were involved in 18 accidents in 20 months.

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In December 2019, Uber released a fairly lengthy report about the safety of its rides. Now, Uber’s failure to answer follow-up questions posed by the State of California has triggered a massive fine and the potential loss of its license to operate in the Golden State. The report detailed a two-year period where roughly eight sexual assaults or rapes occurred daily on Uber rides. In too many situations, attacks occur because rideshare giants like Uber and Lyft don’t do enough to vet the people who apply to drive for the services, which means unsafe drivers carrying unsuspecting riders. When that happens to you, you may be able to take legal action. You should contact a knowledgeable Chicago rideshare injury attorney to find out more.

The action by California comes after that state’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued an order in January 2020. The order required disclosure of the “date, time and location of each reported assault, [and] a description of the circumstances surrounding the incident,” according to the Washington Post.

Eleven months later, Uber still hadn’t complied, citing what it described as concerns about the privacy and anonymity of the survivors of the attacks listed in the report. CPUC handed down a $59 million fine and ordered Uber to complete its disclosures within 30 days or face the loss of its license to operate in California, the report indicated.

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Here in Illinois, the state has strong laws regarding using cell phones while driving. This summer, the penalties for causing an injury accident (or fatal accident) due to distracted driving are going up – to a potential maximum of a $1,000 fine and a one-year driver’s license suspension, according to the Chicago Tribune. One of the groups of people who depend heavily on their phones, and are at a high risk of driving distracted, are Uber and Lyft drivers. Their job involves lots of driving and their access to new riders involves lots of interfacing with a cell phone app, so the potential for danger is clear. If you’ve been injured by a distracted Uber driver, then you may be entitled to compensation through a civil court action. By reaching out to an experienced Chicago car accident attorney, you can get the information you need about your legal options.

Dealing with the need to use a cell phone app frequently while also driving frequently is something that all Uber drivers must deal with. Regrettably, some do it better than others. Posts on Uber message boards contain multiple “horror” stories like one Chicago-area rider who stated in 2019 that “I took an Uber ride a couple years ago in River North where the driver was holding his phone on his lap. I didn’t feel a strong sense of safety during that ride.”

It sounds like that rider got home safely, but not all riders are similarly fortunate. In Toronto, Canada, a man’s Uber ride to the airport was his last. According to a report by The Star, the Uber driver transporting the man and his girlfriend first went the wrong way on the expressway, managed to navigate onto the correct expressway going the correct way, but then lost control of his cell phone. The driver pulled over to retrieve the phone from the floor of the car, but did not get his vehicle completely outside the far-right travel lane before stopping. Another driver crashed into the Uber driver’s car, fatally injuring the passenger and severely injuring his girlfriend.

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Whether you are an Uber or Lyft passenger or a driver for one of those services, you know that one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face, should you be injured during your ride, is that the rideshare company will try to avoid any legal liability, and will probably try use its driver contract agreement, which identifies all drivers as independent contractors, as the means to accomplish that. Drivers and passengers are beginning to log some successes in defeating that argument, as a recent case from Boston demonstrated. While this case is from a federal court in Massachusetts, it should signal that there are legal options available, including here in Illinois, should you need to sue a rideshare company. Start by retaining an experienced Chicago accident attorney to make sure you’re going about your legal action the right way.

In the Massachusetts federal court case, the judge said that a group of Lyft drivers had a “substantial likelihood of success” when it came to showing that they were employees of the rideshare company, not independent contractors.

That case was different in many ways than your Lyft or Uber injury case would be if you were injured a rideshare crash or as a result of a rideshare attack. The Boston case involved a group of Lyft drivers suing for minimum wage and overtime violations, not personal injuries.

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Before the recent pandemic, Amazon had come under fire for various workplace safety incidents, including one in Joliet, Illinois, involving allegations that the company delayed emergency medical treatment for a worker who suffered a heart attack and died in early 2017. In fact, a lawsuit claims that workers waited 25 minutes before calling 911. Since the fire station was only a half-mile away, it is apparent that the delay probably led to the worker’s death. What makes the allegations against Amazon even more concerning is that no AED (Automated External Defibrillator) was provided because the AED boxes did not actually have the devices inside of them. When the Joliet Fire Department arrived, the EMTs were slowed down by security and were forced to go through the much of the 1,500,000 square foot warehouse facility before reaching the injured worker, which caused him to lose precious time to save his life. Later in 2017, an Amazon forklift operator was crushed and killed at the Plainfield, Indiana fulfillment center. Regulators found out that Amazon did not provide their worker with any safety training. In fact, safety issues at Amazon were dismissed and covered up. It comes as no surprise that the state authorities issued $28,000.00 in fines. 6 other similar incidents took place between November 2018 and September 2019 at the company’s various locations across the U.S., making many people wonder if Amazon is willing to sacrifice human life for the sake of more profits.

In 2018, the Monee warehouse reported 235 injuries. The rate of injury was 2.3 times higher than the industry average. Many people in Will County are concerned about the level of safety at the five fulfillment centers located in their community, especially now with the threat of Covid-19 surrounding their loved ones as they work to supply area families with the necessities of life during this difficult time. Most people have questioned the safety of Amazon workers without masks in the local facilities, but that may change. In announcing daily temperature checks of workers and the supplying of masks, Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said via written statement”Whether it’s fulfilling orders in one of our fulfillment centers, delivering an order to a customer’s doorstep, or one of the many roles in between, I couldn’t be more proud of the critical role our teams are serving by enabling people to stay safe at home while receiving the products they need.” While these steps are certain to prevent further Amazon workers from contracting Coronavirus, time will tell if it is enough. Since Amazon already hired 80,000 of the 100,000 additional workers they need, it isn’t hard to imagine that Amazon sees its workers as easily replaceable until more drones and robots can be used to cut down on costs.

Based on Amazon’s conduct, Katz Friedman is investigating work injury cases on behalf of many distribution, warehouse, logistics, and fulfillment center workers in Monee, Joliet, Plainfield, Crest Hill, Romeoville, Waukegan, Aurora, Edwardsville, and Chicago, Illinois. We are also investigating Amazon related to its practices involving Amazon Flex delivery drivers who get hurt on the job but are unfairly denied workers compensation benefits. When making decisions regarding a work injury involving Amazon, it is wise to consult an attorney to protect your interests because Amazon has been prepared to fight its injured workers for a very long time. If you or someone you know works for Amazon and has suffered injury due their job at Amazon, the attorneys and staff at Katz Friedman are here to help with obtaining proper compensation.

The “gig economy” is where more and more people are finding work. This allows for greater flexibility for workers who do not want to be tied to one job or who have to balance earning a living with family obligations. However, this allows employers to avoid providing benefits such as health insurance and allows companies to deny that they are even an employer.

This has serious consequences when people get hurt. If you drive your own vehicle to deliver packages for Amazon Flex or to carry passengers for Uber or Lyft, they will deny that you are an employee when you get injured. They will refuse to pay the benefits to which you are entitled under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Benefits are paid to employees but not independent contractors. Companies will claim that gig workers are not employees but are independent contractors.

The Courts have found drivers for a pizzeria and for licensed taxi companies are employees. There are no decisions regarding drivers for gig economy companies such as Amazon, Uber or Lyft yet. Gig economy companies say that all workers are paid by 1099. This is only one factor in determining whether somebody is an employee.

If you’ve been checking the news headlines – or this blog – regularly over the last several months, you know that one of the issues facing rideshare service users (and some drivers) is sexual assault. Recently, a report released by Uber provided a shocking image of just how prevalent this problem is. That report indicated that, just in 2018, more than three thousand Uber riders and drivers were sexually assaulted, according to ABC News.

In politics, a politician’s level of blame for a scandal may be measured by answering the questions “what did he know and when did he know it.” Sometimes, a civil lawsuit against an entity may also be greatly strengthened by providing proof of what the entity knew (or reasonably should have known) and when it knew it. While these pieces are important, they aren’t everything. To be sure your case has everything it needs for success, be sure to obtain skillful representation from an experienced Chicago Uber injury attorney.

That Uber report also indicated that 464 people were raped using Uber in 2017 and 2018, with roughly 425 of those 464 being passengers. Stock market analysts declared the shocking report to be “another black eye for Uber as the company continues have business model issues which need to addressed,” according to a Mercury News report.

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