Personal Injury Lawyer | Shared Economy Workers Hurt OTJ
Personal Injury Lawyer | Omar, a 32-year-old Uber driver, was working a typical late-night shift in Los Angeles last month when his ride veered from pleasant to violent in just a few minutes. When he pulled his SUV full of passengers up to the Hollywood Tower apartments around 2:30 a.m., two of the riders refused to leave his car. An argument broke out, and Omar said one of the passengers hit him with a shiny object, broke his jaw in two places and landed him in the hospital for a week.
Omar’s not the only worker to find that a newfangled job like driving for Uber comes with some very old dangers: on-the-job injuries. On Sunday, an off-duty Boston cop assaulted his Uber driver, yelled racial slurs at him and stole his car. In Los Angeles, people stabbed an Uber driver in the face and neck in November and choked another driver on New Year’s Day, though in both cases the attacker was likely not the passenger Uber assigned the driver. A San Francisco passenger attacked his Uber driver in November, landing him in the hospital with facial injuries. A Lyft passenger punched his driver and broke his nose in May. And it’s not just headline-grabbing assaults — if any Homejoy cleaner falls while mopping or any Instacart shopper throws out their back while carrying groceries, they’re in the same boat.
In each case, the injured worker can’t turn to the platform for a dime of help. As much as workers like Omar may think of themselves as employees of peer-to-peer marketplaces like Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Instacart, Postmates or Homejoy, they’re not, legally speaking. Companies are under no obligation to provide the same worker protections for independent contractors as they are for employees — protections like overtime, paid sick days, health insurance and workers’ compensation.
Two damaged teeth, one surgery and a week-long hospital stay later, Omar, who didn’t want to include his last name, is stuck with sky-high medical bills and limited options. His only source of income is driving for Uber’s high-end Black and SUV platforms — the Los Angeles police investigative report even lists his occupation as “Uber driver.” He believes Uber should help pay for some of his bills — after all, he was hurt while on the job, earning Uber commission money.
But as an independent contractor, just like almost all workers in the sharing economy, Omar isn’t entitled to workers’ compensation, which is designed to pay for work-related injuries and lost wages. To make matters worse, he doesn’t have his own health insurance, despite the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
Unlike employees, independent contractors are largely free to set their own hours, pick their own clients and control other aspects of their work. In exchange, if they get hurt while working, whatever the reason, they’re on their own. Some sharing-economy workers are experienced freelancers, but many — like Omar — have never before relied on contract work for their full-time income, and they may not realize the full stakes of the tradeoff.
“They don’t have to show up to work on Monday at 9 a.m. if they don’t want to,” said Nick Woodfield, an attorney with the Employment Law Group. “What they’re not understanding is that this lack of control — where they can have a two-hour lunch if they want, or no lunch at all — that freedom comes at the price of if they’re in an accident, the company doesn’t have to pay.”
Since 1989, the personal injury lawyers of Clekis Law Firm have been representing injured people and their families in Charleston and throughout the Low Country. At the Clekis Law Firm our clients always come first. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury due to the negligence of another, don’t be victimized twice. You need someone on your side to help you with your personal injury case and obtain the fair and reasonable compensation that you deserve. Call Clekis at 843.779.1160!
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