Working in the “gig economy,” as opposed to traditional employment, can have certain advantages like greater flexibility. It can also have certain disadvantages, especially if you’re hurt while on the job. Many employers may strive to classify their workers as independent contractors in order to avoid certain liabilities like providing workers’ compensation insurance. This problem is of particular importance for Lyft, Uber and other rideshare drivers because they, by the very definition of their jobs, are at a highly elevated risk of suffering injuries on the job as a result of a vehicle accident. If you are a Lyft or Uber driver hurt while working, there are several things you should do to get the benefits you need and deserve. Start by getting capable legal representation from a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney.
A court ruling released last year in California is a reminder of some good news that exists for Uber and Lyft drivers in Illinois. In the California case, which was resolved by that state’s Supreme Court last April 30 and was reported by cnn.com, C.L. was a delivery driver for a courier service. The courier company classified him as an independent contractor. The driver later sued, alleging that the classification was improper and that he was really an employee.
Independent contractors versus employees
The Supreme Court sided with the worker. In reaching that decision, the court adopted something called the “ABC Test,” which is one of the most helpful tests for workers seeking to be classified as employees and not as independent contractors. That test looks at three things very closely to decide if you are an employee or an independent contractor. They are:
- the level of control you are placed under
- whether or not your work is “outside the usual course” of the employer’s business
- whether or not you are engaged in an “independently established trade, business or occupation” of the same type of work
If you are free to complete your work in the manner you see fit, then you might be an independent contractor. If the hiring entity tells you, not only what jobs to do, but how to do your job in detail, then you have a strong argument you’re an employee. If your work was outside the scope of your hiring entity’s usual business, then you may be an independent contractor; if it isn’t, you’re more likely to be an employee. With the independent trade factor, it again comes down to questions of the freedom you have. For example, if you are a dance instructor who provides lessons to a studio’s customers, but who also provides instruction to other clients, too (such as in your home or at another studio,) then you may be an independent contractor. If the studio with which you’re contracted requires you to instruct its customers and only its customers, then you may have a stronger case that you’re an employee.
Illinois has already adopted the ABC Test. It was established by a state law and affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2004. While rideshare companies like Uber have language in their contracts that states that drivers are not employees, that does not necessarily control the outcome. The relationship must be analyzed through the criteria of the ABC Test.
Consider Uber drivers in Illinois. According to a Forbes report, Uber drivers are not free to negotiate fares with passengers, must meet Uber’s “performance” standards and must follow the travel routes that Uber sets when carrying a fare. Uber also has additional “recommendations” that are as detailed as what conversation topics to use or avoid with fares, Forbes reported. Those things all are evidence of a very high level of control, which might help your case that you were really an employee.
Once you are able to persuade the judge that you were an employee, then you have a better chance of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits as a result of your injury accident.
Whether you drive for Uber, Lyft or another rideshare entity, you probably have many worries and questions if you’ve been hurt while driving. Get the answers you need and discover the options available to you by reaching out to the knowledgeable Chicago workers compensation attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our attorneys have been helping injured workers for many years and are here to help you. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Illinois Court Says Police Officer Entitled to Seek Benefits for Injury Suffered Inspecting Commercial Truck, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Dec. 5, 2018
When an independent contractor can file a workers’ compensation claim, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Jan. 10, 2016