Legal Options for Injured Gig Workers
Gig workers tend to get a rough deal. Not only do they usually have low pay, overwhelming schedules, and few benefits, but they are also likely to find themselves on their own if they are injured on the job.
Getting compensation after a collision on the road can be difficult for drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft, even when the gig driver was not at fault. The rideshare company does not necessarily cover medical bills and lost wages. And the chances of an accident are higher merely by how much time they spend on the road.
If you are a gig worker, you should know your rights, what process to follow if you are injured during a road accident in Missouri, and what options are available.
Missouri is an at-fault insurance state, which means if you are an Uber, Uber Eats, Lyft, or other rideshare driver involved in a motor vehicle accident and you can prove that it was not your fault, then the other motorist is liable for the negligence that caused the accident. The at-fault driver is then liable for your physical, emotional, and financial losses resulting from the accident, including if you’re prevented from working because of it.
You have the option of either suing the other driver if they were at fault, filing a claim either with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or if the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage, with your own.
However, getting the full amount of compensation you are due is not as straightforward as it sounds.
Because you are a gig worker, you are categorized as an independent contractor instead of an employee. Uber and Lyft provide insurance to the drivers who use their apps, but their policies usually only fully cover the time when you have a passenger in the car during the ride’s duration. In addition, rideshare companies often have differing policies.
For example, Uber’s insurance policy extends full coverage when en route to and carrying a passenger. The full coverage amounts to $1 million in liability policy limits. But if your app is on and you are waiting for a ride, Uber only provides limited coverage of $50,000 per person, $100,000 for accident bodily injury liability, and $25,000 for accident property damage liability. If your app is off and you have an accident, Uber will not cover you at all.
This means that your online status when the accident occurred determines the degree of coverage you get from your rideshare company. If the accident happened while you were not carrying a passenger, you will likely have to file for claims on your own through your personal auto insurance.
Rideshare and delivery drivers (such as gig workers for Uber Eats), have recently been the victims of an alarming number of carjackings across the U.S., and in April 2021, a St. Louis Lyft driver was killed by a passenger while on the job. Companies like Lyft and Uber have done little to intervene in these incidents.
Often, the driver ends up in a difficult position with the insurance company refusing coverage if the damage occurred while on the job. The rideshare company is typically slow to offer assistance. In one case, Uber only offered to cover the driver’s $1,000 deductible if they signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Gig workers who sustain injuries or have vehicles stolen or damaged while on the job should enlist the help of a skilled attorney to ensure they receive adequate compensation from their insurance provider and the rideshare company. If the company did not have measures in place to protect workers in these situations, you may have grounds for a negligent security claim.
Determining which insurance company coverage applies to your situation can be confusing. If another driver is at fault and your damages are not covered by the auto insurance company providing policies for Uber or Lyft, you may file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
However, if the at-fault driver is uninsured, you may have to file a claim through your own insurance company. If the vehicle manufacturer is found liable for a defective product under the state’s strict liability law, then you may have to file a claim through the rideshare company’s insurance provider.
In the wake of COVID-19, Missouri’s state labor department made self-employed gig workers eligible for unemployment benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in April 2020. If you have been in an accident and require worker’s compensation because you cannot return to work, file a claim with the Missouri Department of Labor as soon as possible.
In many cases, the best way to receive full compensation is to file a personal injury claim with the help of an attorney. If you file a personal injury claim, the other driver’s insurance company will usually have to pay for your medical expenses. However, you must be able to prove the other driver breached their duty of care to drive with appropriate caution, that their negligence caused the accident, and that the accident was the cause of your injuries.
In addition, under Missouri’s comparative negligence law, you can sue even if you’re partly responsible for your own injuries, though your compensation decreases according to your degree of responsibility.
If you are a gig worker injured in a motor vehicle accident while on the job and are unsure of which insurer to file a claim with, contact our St Louis personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. If an insurance company denies your claim or tries to pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement, having a knowledgeable lawyer in your corner can help ensure you get the amount you are rightfully owed.
Cofman Townsley has supported victims of injury in Missouri for over 40 years. We will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and secure the compensation you deserve.