In Pittsburgh, hailing a cab was tantamount to putting in a bid to host the Olympics. It seemed like you had to wait years for one to show up! So, I was an early cheerleader for the new mousetrap for hailing a cab - Uber. So easy! So prompt! So intriguing - peering at that car icon on my phone, starting up in Oakland weaving its way down Fifth Ave. across Grant St., turning on 7th St., eventually picking me up at QuatriniRafferty's downtown Pittsburgh office, at 941 Penn Ave., to take me to the airport.
And, so clever - setting up a system for me to rate the service and the driver getting to rate me - keeping the playing field level.
But, after I settled in the back seat of the freshly cleaned Corolla, my "Injured Worker Attorney Instincts" kicked in. Does my driver realize that if she gets out of the car and, while lifting my overstuffed suitcase out of the trunk, herniates a disc in her back, she will be on her own? Uber will claim she is an "independent contractor." Her medical bills and lost wages will all fall on her.
Why is this happening? They call it the "gig economy." No employee-employer relationship. Therefore, no Workers' Compensation policy to cover medical bills and lost wages even though the Uber driver clearly got hurt in the course of her employment.
Moreover, the drivers of Uber (and Lyft) find themselves at risk of motor vehicle accidents, and given the fact that they interact with the public, assaults. The National Employment Law Project notes that on-demand jobs are among the most dangerous in the nation, with the most jobs focused in transportation, delivery, and home services. The study claims that taxi drivers are killed on the job at a rate five times greater than other workers!
How does the Uber driver protect herself? Give us a call right away. Our Workers' Compensation attorneys will develop the facts which show that the driver was, in fact, an employee of Uber. Uber told her where to go. Uber gave her instructions to follow. In essence, Uber "exercised control" over her role as a taxi driver - that makes the Uber driver an employee.
For all the other Uber drivers - you need to try to buy yourself a Workers' Compensation policy before you get hurt! Pennsylvania allows individuals to purchase Workers' Compensation policies. But, if you do get hurt, call us immediately for a free consultation.