To an ordinary person, there may not seem to be much of a difference between an independent contractor and an employee. Often times, independent contractors and company employees will work side by side at the same company or work site. However, there are important legal differences between the two that extend beyond mere job titles. Much of what the distinction boils down to the degree of control that a Boss has over his worker. The more control an individual has over his own work schedule, and how he does his job, the more likely they are to be legally classified as an independent contractor.
Some other differences include an independent contractor’s ability the set their own hours, and their ability to work for more than one employer at the same time. Independent contractors also are not entitled to receive employment benefits, and are not entitled to join a union. Ride sharing companies are acutely aware of the legal differences and ramifications that the employer/independent contractor title can have. In an attempt to limit their exposure to liability in car accidents involving “their” drivers, the independent contractor title makes it more difficult to hold Uber or Lyft responsible for the actions of the drivers. However, if you are involved in an accident with a driver from one of these companies, you may have access to the ride sharing company’s insurance depending on the facts of the case and the State where in the accident takes place.
Currently, Uber and Lyft both have a $1 million liability policy that cover passengers if an accident occurs during the course of the trip and your driver is at fault. When a lawsuit is initiated however, it will typically be against the actual driver rather than Uber or Lyft. In theory, after an accident you can attempt to settle with the insurance companies without an attorney. However, until a lawsuit has been filed the insurance companies typically have little incentive to negotiate seriously with you. An attorney can generally get you substantially more than the insurance company initially offers. If you have been injured in an accident caused by an Uber or Lyft driver, and you get a call from a claims representative working for Uber/Lyft we recommend not giving any statements to the insurance company without consulting an attorney first. An insurance company seeks to maximize profits and therefore will try to limit payout to accident victims. Insurance claims representatives may offer money in exchange for a waiver and release of all claims. Often times, insurance companies will try and offer a quick settlement soon after an accident before the full extent of injuries are known. These offers are generally made quickly to try and discourage injured accident victims from seeking an attorney. In order to receive full compensation after an accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer before signing any settlement agreement.
If you have been injured in a ride sharing accident call Druckman & Hernandez to speak with an attorney today. Our attorneys have dealt with numerous Lyft and Uber cases in NJ. Remember, you don’t pay us anything unless we recover money for you. Our number is 908-353-5850.