Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s) Lyft and Uber are increasingly mainstream. You only need to pull out your mobile device and set up a ride in order to get where you need to go. As a customer, you love the flexibility and convenience. But say you are considering becoming a Lyft or Uber driver – do you know what your rights and responsibilities are?
Increasingly, our firm is asked if Lyft and Uber drivers are eligible for programs like workers’ compensation. Lyft and Uber do not consider their drivers as “employees”. Therefore, they do not qualify for traditional workers’ compensation coverage.
However, several insurance companies are partnering with Uber and Lyft to provide drivers with a type of insurance coverage that provides compensation for work-related injuries. Companies like OneBeacon Accident & Health are working with Uber to provide policies that are similar to what truck drivers are offered as contractors.
These policies cover drivers for up to $1 million in medical expenses, disability benefits, death benefits, and survivor benefits. The downside to these policies is the fact that the entire expense is the burden of the driver. Unlike workers’ compensation benefits for employees, Uber and Lyft contractors do not get help from their “employer” in covering the cost of insurance.
Uber and Lyft executives have continually denied that they are, in fact, employers, and many legal cases have arisen out of the debate over employee versus contractor. Legally, determining an employment relationship depends on a variety of factors like control, performance, and wages.
Some courts have found that an employer-employee relationship does exist between TNC’s and drivers. Other courts disagree and uphold that drivers are contractors. Unfortunately, the debate continues and does little to protect drivers and provide benefits if they are injured while working for Uber or Lyft.