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Can an Uber driver get workers' compensation benefits?

Drivers who work for the popular Lyft and Uber ride services need to be aware that they could face legal hurtles if they suffer an on-the-job injury. Drivers for Uber and Lyft are usually what we call "gig workers." In other words, they are not typically full time employees, so they're not typically covered by workers' compensation insurance.

Uber and Lyft operate under the money-saving business model that involves employing independent contractors. Both these companies have been involved in lawsuits against drivers who are demanding that they be classified as employees rather than contractors without benefits.

In one recent California case, a San Francisco Uber driver was involved in a car accident with another Uber driver. The man suffered a concussion and neck injuries that have left him unable to do his job. An insurance company representing Uber offered the man a meager $21,000 to settle his claim and pay for his lost wages, medical expenses and inconvenience. However, the driver said that this amount is low considering the difficult financial circumstances his injuries have put him in. Nevertheless, he says he may have to accept it because he lacks the resources to fight the matter in court.

A senior fellow from the National Employment Law Project recently stated that Uber drivers should be covered under the same labor laws that provide for the safety of taxi drivers. She said that Uber drivers should be covered by workers' compensation -- and that being a driver for hire is one of the most dangerous jobs that exists in terms of fatal accidents and workplace violence.

Uber and Lyft drivers should know that just because they may not have workers' compensation does not mean that they can't pursue compensation following a workplace event. A detailed discussion of the circumstances of a California accident and the injuries surrounding it with an experienced employment law attorney may reveal that the injured driver has a strong claim for recovery in court.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "What Kinds of Damages May I Claim for Car Accident Injuries?," Carolyn Said, June 23, 2016

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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