Thanks to a recent agreement in a lawsuit, drivers for the ride-sharing service Lyft will remain non-employees for most purposes, but are they employees for car crash purposes?
Under the terms of the settlement, which must still be approved by a federal judge, the plaintiff drivers will receive $12.25 million in cash, which will be distributed according to the length of time they have driven in California. Moreover, the company agreed to rework the terms of service and allow drivers to contest compensation and deactivation issues through a company-provided arbitration service. In return, the drivers will continue to be classified as “independent contractors” for tax purposes, meaning that they are ineligible for workers’ compensation and not protected by federal and state wage and hour laws.
In a statement, the company said it was “pleased to have resolved this matter on terms that preserve the flexibility of drivers;” the drivers’ attorney called the settlement an “adequate resolution of the claims we brought.”
Are On-Demand Drivers Employees?
Under the principle of respondeat superior, employers are legally responsible for the negligent acts of their employees, if these acts are committed during the course and scope of employment. With regard to respondeat superior and other third party liability claims, most courts interpret “employee” very broadly, essentially based on the amount of control that boss exerts over worker. In terms of ride-sharing services, some considerations in this area are:
Schedule: On-demand drivers are certainly not 9-to-5 workers, but depending on the company, they may be assigned a certain area of town and be required to accept certain jobs during certain hours.
Route: Most companies use a uniform software platform that calculates the route between Point A and Point B, although the drivers have the authority to deviate from that route.
Compensation: Some on-demand drivers are paid by the job, but many are paid on a weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly schedule.
The inquiry is definitely fact-based, and only in-depth discovery can provide an answer to this question.
Victims in car crash cases are generally entitled to compensation for both their economic damages, like physical rehabilitation expenses, and noneconomic damages, such as loss of enjoyment in life due to injury. Punitive damages are sometimes available as well.
The tortfeasor (negligent driver) may not be the only responsible party in a negligence case. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New Braunfels, contact our office. An attorney can arrange for ongoing medical care for victims, even if they have no insurance and no money.