Workers Compensation and Uber Drivers

Uber drivers are on the roads in most major cities, earning a living and helping passengers get from point A to point B safely. The number of Uber drives has surpassed 1.5 million, according to recent reports.

These drivers make their own hours, and they’re more contractors than they are “employees.”

When driving for Uber, you’re at risk of injuries. According to sigurdsonlaw.com, “there are 200 injury causing incidents per 10,000 workers engaged in the production or transportation of goods” annually. This statistic makes transportation, or in this case being an Uber driver, a dangerous job.

So, the question is: does Uber offer workers’ compensation?

Uber’s Definition of “Employees”

If you work in an Uber office, you’ll likely receive workers’ compensation. But when you’re a driver, who can become injured loading luggage into the trunk of a car or in an auto accident, you’re not likely to be covered.

Uber declares all of their drivers as “contractors.”

Independent contractors, under most state laws, do not have the same rules and requirements for workers’ compensation. This is why most independent contractors have fewer benefits than their “employee” counterparts.

Uber’s Pilot Program

Rumors of a pilot program offering Uber drivers workers’ compensation started to be published in May. Uber, hearing the complaints of drivers, teamed up with OneBeacon and Aon. The partnership helped launch a program, offering workers’ comp, in eight states.

Offered as optional protection, drivers would pay $0.0375 per mile and riders would pay $0.05 more per mile for the coverage.

The coverage offered $1 million in benefits that would cover weekly earnings lost as well as medical expenses. The program was viewed as a major win for the “gig” economy, offering coverage in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, South Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

State Laws Matter Most

State laws are the laws that you want to concern yourself with the most. Uber’s lack of workers’ compensation is the fault of the state because most states don’t require businesses to offer their independent contracts workers’ comp.

States can change their laws, so it’s important to research your state’s workers’ compensation laws as pertaining to independent contractors.

Discussing your options with a local attorney is the best action you can take. Attorneys will be able to better help you determine if your state will uphold the law for an independent contractor. Most states will rule in favor of Uber, and Uber will deny your claim as a result.

Alaska is a prime example of a state that has changed their laws in Uber’s favor. The company was facing an investigation in the state in 2015. The investigation was looking into the very classification of drivers under the company’s definition.

Uber left the state, and the company didn’t return.

Two years later, state officials have introduced a bill that exempts drivers from the employee definition. In essence, Uber can now operate in the state without fear that workers’ compensation issues will arise.

Uber continues to press the matter in courts, asserting that drivers are contractors and holding them back from benefits.

New York is a state that introduced the Black Car Fund, which provides black car and limo drivers with workers’ compensation. Uber is required to participate in the fund, which adds a 2.44% fee to all fares.