Over the last decade, ridesharing has exploded in popularity.
One of the first companies in the game was Uber, which remains wildly popular among rideshare customers.
Although during Covid-19, many Uber drivers found themselves out of work, the demand has since returned, and there are millions of Uber drivers worldwide.
Uber drivers are just as vulnerable to being involved in a motor vehicle crash as any other driver—perhaps more so given the time they spend on the road.
If you are a North Carolina Uber driver injured on the job, you might wonder if there’s workers’ comp for Uber drivers.
The short answer is that Uber drivers, owing to their status as independent contractors, are typically not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Employee v. Independent Contractor
Under most state laws, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and employers must maintain coverage.
Workers’ comp is a way to take injured workers that avoids the cost and time of lawsuits against employers. But workers’ comp programs cover only employees.
So the main reason Uber and other rideshare drivers are not eligible for workers’ comp benefits is that they are considered independent contractors.
In other words, because Uber drivers are not employees, they are not eligible for Uber workers’ comp.
If the person paying you has the right to control only the result of your work and not how it will be completed, chances are that you’re an independent contractor.
Think of the kid who mows your grass as an example of an independent contractor. You want your grass mowed, but you don’t stand there giving specific directions.
Uber drivers are much the same. They control their own schedules and choose their passengers.
Furthermore, they are required to file their self-employment tax returns. Uber does not withhold earnings from drivers.
As independent contractors, Uber drivers also do not receive other benefits that employees enjoy, such as health or retirement benefits, sick pay, or overtime—and, notably, workers’ comp.
Being classified as independent contractors leaves many rideshare drivers who get injured while working scrambling to cover their medical bills and lost wages.
Uber Driver Injury Protection Insurance
Since there isn’t Uber driver’s workers’ compensation, what are the options for safeguarding yourself if you are injured while working?
Rideshare drivers who are hurt while on the job can file a claim under Uber’s Driver Injury Protection Policy.
But be aware that—unlike workers’ comp—this insurance is voluntary, and each Uber driver must elect to enroll in the program at their own cost.
The policy will generally cover medical bills and other damages due to an accident.
Uber drivers may enroll in the program for $0.024 per mile when on-trip, including en route to picking up passengers.
As such, the policy will cover accidents even when the driver is on the way to pick up a customer, not just while driving with passengers.
The policy’s purpose is to cover accidents and injuries while on the clock since most personal auto insurance policies will not cover accidents associated with on-duty Uber drivers.
Benefits of the Policy
The benefits of the policy include many of the same you would have through your personal insurance, including:
- Medical expenses up to $1,000,000 with no insured responsibly (i.e., deductible or copay);
- Disability benefits up to $500 per week in lost wages;
- Survivor benefits up to $150,000 for the Uber driver’s family if they die due to the accident.
The benefits of the policy are instant, meaning that as soon as an Uber driver elects to enroll in the policy and completes the necessary forms, coverage begins.
Drivers are then charged per mile while actively working.
The policy applies in several different scenarios, including:
- When the driver is logged in and active on the app, it applies as long as the driver is available for trip requests (they do not have to be in transit);
- When en route to pick up a customer; and
- During an official trip using the app.
The policy does not apply if the driver uses the vehicle for personal reasons or while working for another company (like another ridesharing company) at the time of the injury.
Is this Policy a Good Idea?
While everyone’s situation is unique, Uber’s Driver Protection Policy may be a good option for you and your family.
In addition to the driver’s standard personal auto insurance possibly not providing enough coverage, the benefits provided by this policy can help compensate for the lack of workers’ compensation benefits.
Notably, the policy does not apply to any passenger in the Uber who may also suffer injuries during the accident.
Uber has separate insurance coverage related to passenger injuries.
Other Driver or Third-party Claims
Depending on the circumstances, you may have other options for seeking damages.
The Other Driver
If you are an Uber driver and are injured while working because another driver caused the accident, you may be able to seek damages from the at-fault driver.
If you are injured while clocked in on the app, your auto insurance is likely to deny coverage because you were working at the time.
Without workers’ comp benefits, your only option may be filing a claim against the other driver.
It is best to consult with an attorney to assess the specific circumstances of your case and if this may be an option available to you.
Perhaps the cause of the accident was a vehicle defect such as faulty brakes or a defective engine.
In that case, you may have a claim against a third party, including the vehicle or parts manufacturer.
Steps to Take Following an Accident
Whether you are active on the app waiting for a ride request, en route to pick up passengers, or amid a customer ride and you are involved in a car crash, it is imperative to follow specific steps.
Police or Medical Assistance
First and foremost, call 911 if you or a passenger need emergency medical attention.
Otherwise, notify the police so they may respond to the scene, conduct an investigation, and draft an accident report.
Following an accident, while working, you should also contact Uber to report the incident, even if it is a minor fender bender.
Document the Accident
If you are physically able, you should document what you can at the accident scene. Take some photos with your phone and write down anything you can remember.
If you did not seek medical assistance at the time of the accident, you should still see your doctor for an assessment.
You may overlook injuries in the immediate aftermath of the accident. So make an appointment to see your doctor to catch any injuries that have a delayed onset.
Reach Out to a Lawyer
A lawyer will assess your options and help you determine the best course of action.
Workers’ comp for Uber drivers will not be an option, but don’t fret because you may have other avenues to pursue compensation.
Contact Mehta & McConnell for Help
If you were recently injured while working as an Uber driver, you likely feel overwhelmed and uncertain. You have options. Let us help you explore them.
We are not only board-certified workers’ compensation attorneys but also skilled car accident attorneys.
Contact us by phone or through our website to schedule a free consultation. Our team is standing by to assist you.