Driving an Uber or Lyft vehicle can be dangerous business. MarketWatch recently reported on the results of research conducted by a team from a university in Texas and the Chicago Booth School of Business. The results showed that the frequency of fatal or serious accidents has gone up by 3% in major U.S. cities in the time period since rideshare services went online. The researchers concluded that the total economic loss that this increase in serious and fatal accidents has wrought in terms of lives lost was approximately $10 billion.
If you’re hurt behind the wheel of an Uber or Lyft, you may be entitled to certain forms of compensation. One of the forms available to certain workers is an award of workers’ compensation benefits. To find more about whether or not you may be able to pursue a claim successfully, be sure to reach out to an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney.
In Illinois, the law does not require you to demonstrate that your employer acted in a way that was careless or negligent in order for you to receive an award of benefits. What you do need to show is that your injury happened while on the job or occurred as a result of activities you performed while at work.
Your contract agreement is not the last word on employee vs. independent contractor classification
You also have to show that you were an actual employee of the entity that hired you. In other words, you can’t be an independent contractor and receive workers’ compensation benefits. Uber and Lyft drivers sign legal agreements stating that they are independent contractors. However, what any Uber or Lyft driver (or anyone else in a similar position) needs to know is that, simply because you signed a contract that said that you were an independent contractor, that is not necessarily the final answer under the law. In other words, that agreement doesn’t shut the door to your successfully claiming you were an employee, not an independent contractor, and seeking certain forms compensation like workers’ compensation benefits.
In fact, worker misclassification has been a major issue in recent years. In many industries, employers frequently misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid possible exposure for things like workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits.
So, what do you need to convince a court that you’re an employee and entitled to workers’ compensation benefits? The courts look for several things, including the extent to which the employer controls how you do your job, the employer’s right to fire you, the method in which you are paid, whether or not the employer takes taxes out of your pay and whether or not the employer furnishes the tools, materials or equipment you need to do your job.
In the past, many courts have sided with rideshare employers in deciding whether or not drivers are employees or independent contractors. In spite of those unfavorable opinions, it is not “set in stone,” legally speaking, that you, as an Uber or Lyft driver, are automatically not an employee and not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The specific facts of your situation may indicate that you could have a case.
You owe it to yourself to consult legal counsel and discover more about what options you have. Call upon the skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca to get the reliable and effective legal representation your case deserves. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.