In the latest round of issues surrounding the popular and growing ride
sharing industry, drivers for Uber and Lyft have mounted legal challenges
against the companies, claiming that they are employees and not independent
contractors. In California, several class action lawsuits have been filed
on behalf of drivers for Lyft and Uber. These lawsuits claim that the
companies misclassify their drivers as independent contractors in order
to save money and give them an unfair advantage over competitors, such
as taxi companies.
A company that retains an independent contractor, as opposed to an employee,
saves a great deal of money by not having to pay for workers’ compensation
insurance, health care, or other benefits. But to classify a driver as
an independent contractor, the company cannot retain the kind of control
over the driver that it would over a regular employee. These lawsuits
allege that Uber and Lyft exert a level of control over their drivers
that makes them employees.
At least some of these cases have cleared the initial legal hurdles, with
federal judges in San Francisco allowing them to be brought before a jury
in trial. However, some people, including at least one judge, have called
this dispute a difficult legal question because the laws and regulations
have not caught up with fast-moving companies such as Uber and Lyft. They
argue the juries will have a difficult time deciding the cases under existing
law. Given the complexity of the questions and the number of lawsuits,
this issue will continue to develop over the next months and years.
The determination of these issues is extremely important to anyone who
has been injured while riding in an Uber or Lyft or who has been in an
accident with an Uber or Lyft driver. Generally, a company retaining an
independent contractor is not vicariously liable to others for the contractor’s
negligent acts. This means that Uber or Lyft will not be held liable for
the actions of their drivers as independent contractors. However, if their
drivers are classified as employees, Uber and Lyft will be held liable
if their driver is negligent and causes someone to be injured.
If you have been injured as a ride sharing passenger or by a driver for
a ride sharing company, you need attorneys who are up to date on all of
the relevant laws and legal developments surrounding these companies.
The attorneys are
Walker, Hamilton & Koenig, LLP
have the experience, knowledge, and expertise to handle even the toughest
of these cases.