In September, California passed a landmark law that will make it much more difficult to categorize certain workers as independent contractors. Essentially, independent contractors are workers who work on “gigs” and do not get employee benefits (such as overtime, time off, parental leave, etc.). California’s Assembly Bill 5, however, will require more companies to treat workers as full-fledged employees.
Uber is one of the biggest companies that may have to reclassify workers in adherence to this bill. This means that thousands of drivers could become employees and earn a minimum wage, overtime pay, healthcare, and general basic labor rights. In addition, this change may mean that the company could be on the hook for more ridesharing accidents.
Liability and Independent Contractor Laws in California
Currently, Uber follows a strict timeline of liability for accidents involving rideshare vehicles:
If an Uber driver is not available to pick up passengers and has their driver mode turned off, the driver’s own personal auto insurance would be used for coverage in the event of an accident.
If the driver is en-route to pick up a passenger when a collision occurs, Uber has contingent liability coverage that provides coverage if the driver’s own insurance is not enough to cover damages.
If a driver has a passenger in the vehicle when an accident occurs, Uber has a one million dollar liability coverage policy and one million dollars in uninsured or underinsured coverage.
This change could disrupt this whole timeline, potentially opening up millions of new lawsuits if drivers are considered employees and the company is found to bear a greater responsibility in the event of an accident. Workers’ compensation and disability benefits are another issue that may have to be addressed with this change. Another matter that should be considered is auto product liability.
Of course, this bill will only change the classification of California Uber drivers. However, this change may mean that other states or federal legislators will soon follow suit with similar actions.
Injured in an Uber or Lyft Accident?
If you’re injured in an Uber accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to our D.C. ridesharing accident attorneys. These accidents can be very complicated and it’s in your best interest to seek out a legal team who will defend you and your rights. The legal team at Shevlin Smith is experienced in handling these sorts of cases and can help you seek maximum financial recovery for your losses.
Contact our firm at (703) 721-4233 to learn more about what we can do for you.