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Uber and Lyft Spending Millions to Limit Liability in Accidents

Posted by Jeremy Rosenthal | Oct 06, 2020 | 0 Comments

In Colorado, Lyft and Uber continue to operate under their standard business model where drivers are considered “independent contractors,” instead of employees. However, new laws in California now require these rideshare drivers to be treated as employees. Uber and Lyft are spending millions to pass a law to ensure their independent status, in part, to limit their liability when a driver causes an accident

Uber and Lyft Spending on the Most Expensive Ballot Measure Ever

Proposition 22 is a ballot measure that would exempt app-based transportation companies from providing employee benefits to drivers. If the measure is passed, Lyft and Uber workers would not be treated as employees and would not be subject to state laws over sick leave, healthcare, and unemployment benefits. As of September 16, 2020, the total contributions to pass the measure have amounted to more than $190 million, making it the most expensive ballot initiative in the state's history

Why are Lyft and Uber Fighting So Hard to Avoid Employer Status?

Why are Lyft and Uber fighting so hard to pass a law exempting them from the rules and regulations that all other companies have to follow? Treating drivers as employees would cost the companies more to operate, by requiring the rideshare companies to pay:

  • Sick leave for when a driver gets sick or has to care for a family member
  • Overtime for time over a daily or weekly amount
  • Healthcare benefits
  • Unemployment benefits if the driver is not able to work 

However, one major difference to the public between independent contractors and employees involves who is liable in the event of an accident or injury caused by the driver

Vicarious Liability of the Rideshare Companies

Vicarious liability means one party is held liable for the negligence of another. In general, employers are liable for the negligence of their employees when an accident occurs in the course of their employment. This means an injury victim can recover damages from the employer who is in a better position to pay for the victim's losses.

If an airport hotel shuttle driver causes an accident and a passenger is injured, the employer may be vicariously liable for the negligence of the driver. If a pizza delivery driver causes an accident, the injury victims can get compensation from the restaurant owner. However, Lyft and Uber try to avoid any liability for the negligence of their drivers. 

The rideshare companies are careful to try and distance themselves from the actions of their drivers. Part of this is to keep them classified as “independent contractors” instead of “employees.” As independent contractors, the rideshare companies can try to avoid vicarious liability. 

However, vicarious liability is not dependent on what the company claims. If a court or jury finds the rideshare companies are liable for the actions of their drivers, the rideshare company may still be forced to pay for the victim's damages. Alternatively, a court or jury may find the rideshare company was directly negligent in allowing a dangerous driver to use their app to give people rides. 

Fighting Against Regulations in Major Markets

Uber operates across the country and in many other countries around the world. Lyft primarily operates in the U.S. but is expanding to Canada. However, most of their sales happen in just a few places. San Francisco and Los Angeles are two of the biggest markets for rideshare companies. Avoiding regulations in California alone will mean more money for the billion-dollar companies, even if it comes at the expense of driver and passenger safety.

Rideshare Accidents in Colorado

Rideshare accidents can cause injury to the drivers, passengers, or others on the road. If you were injured in a traffic accident involving a Lyft or Uber vehicle, you should be compensated for your losses. Contact today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation. We are here waiting for you.

About the Author

Jeremy Rosenthal

Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal is dedicated to helping his clients seek just compensation for their injuries regardless of the lengths he has to go to or the distances he may have to travel in order to get it.


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