Uber is a ridesharing app that is a part of the growing ‘gig economy.’ This means that the drivers for these companies are hired for individual tasks from an on-demand digital marketplace. They work when they want to and choose which jobs to accept. They have the freedom of an independent contractor and are therefore not eligible for the same protections that other workers are legally entitled to. While employees are entitled to medical benefits and wage benefits through workers’ compensation insurance that their employers are required to carry, since they consider their drivers to be independent contractors, ridesharing services have not been legally required or morally inclined to offer the same protections to their drivers. Yet all of this is beginning to change concerning a work related auto accident. In fact, Uber is making great strides towards improving the work conditions of their drivers. Uber drivers in Greenville, South Carolina, are about to see these efforts in action.
Uber Drivers Are At High Risk of Being Injured on the Job in Greenville, South Carolina
Anyone who drives for a living or has a job that involves driving for any purpose is at risk of getting into an auto accident. Because Uber drivers are, by definition, drivers, they are among the most at risk of work related auto accidents. Every time they get out on the road, on their way to a customer or while transporting a customer to their desired location, they encounter a multitude of other drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, commercial vehicles, and other traffic. If Uber drivers were covered by workers’ compensation, then they would have wage benefits and medical benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of how the incident occurred. The driver would still be able to pursue an auto accident claim against another driver, separate from their workers’ compensation claim, if another driver was responsible. Yet, they wouldn’t have to struggle with their medical expenses and lost wages while they waited for the auto accident claim to be resolved.
Uber is About to Provide a Version of Workers’ Compensation for Greenville, South Carolina, Drivers
While Uber is not required to cover their drivers with workers’ compensation insurance for a work related auto accident, they are making strides towards providing similar protections. They are going to test this new coverage in South Carolina. The coverage is not technically workers’ compensation insurance, but a personal injury policy that is designed to work in a similar way. It will provide both wage and medical benefits in the event of an accident. However, unlike workers’ compensation, the policy will be offered as optional coverage to Uber drivers. Further, the driver will be paying for this coverage, rather than the company. The cost will be 3.75 cents per mile, paid by the driver, and the policy will provide coverage of up to one million dollars to replace the driver’s earnings and cover their medical expenses. The idea is to have the cost of this insurance compensated through an increase of five cents for South Carolina passengers.
Uber and their insurance providers have been working on this idea for over a year, in an effort to give their independent drivers a kind of safety net. If a driver is injured, they can receive wage benefits of up to $500 per week. The policy may not be in its final form at this time, but after seeing how it works in South Carolina, it may evolve into an effective and successful option for Uber drivers all over the United States. South Carolina is not the only testing ground. Seven other states have also approved the optional insurance policy, including Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Massachusetts, which are even bigger markets for the company. It is yet to be seen how successful it may be and how many drivers are going to choose to purchase the optional protection.
Uber is Introducing a Variety of New Options for Drivers in Greenville, South Carolina
The new personal injury policy is not the only thing that Uber is introducing for their rideshare drivers in Greenville, South Carolina, and throughout the US. They are also able to offer options for health insurance, retirement savings, and discounts for the job-related expenses that Uber drivers may have. For example, there are discounts being made available for vehicle maintenance and cell phone service. They are able to do this by making deals and forming partnerships with service providers.
Not Everyone Agrees with Uber’s Alternative to Workers’ Compensation in Greenville, South Carolina
Part of the pressure on Uber and other on-demand service companies to make changes is coming from the National Employment Law Project and activists who fight for such protections for all workers. Yet, not everyone is satisfied by Uber’s proposed alternative to workers’ compensation. According to the National Employment Law Project’s deputy director, Rebecca Smith, the company should operate as other employers do, with payroll taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and social security payments. She and others think that would be a more straightforward and transparent approach to solving the problem of coverage for Uber drivers.
According to Joseph Steiner, an expert in employment law and professor from the University of South Carolina, there are more questions that need to be addressed. He points out that while Uber drivers can be defined as independent contractors, due to their ability to set their own schedules, they can also be compared to traditional employees, due to their inability to set their own fees. Typically, an independent contractor is in control of every aspect of their provided services and costs. This is not so for Uber drivers, so their classification as independent contractors can easily be argued. They have many of the very same limitations as those who are classified as employees.
Uber Drivers May Need Legal Advice and Representation After a Work Related Auto Accident
If you are an Uber driver or other rideshare service driver, and if you have been involved in a work related auto accident, you’re in a difficult position. Once the personal injury protection is made available to Uber drivers in Greenville, South Carolina, you would be wise to opt into the system, as it is soon to be your best option for coverage of a work related auto accident. If you are involved in a work related auto accident before this becomes available or if you don’t opt into the system and are involved in such an accident, then you are going to have to navigate the legal system without it. Fortunately, you can get skilled legal advice and representation from the attorneys at David R. Price, Jr. P.A., who know the ins and outs of both auto accident claims and workers’ compensation in Greenville, South Carolina. Contact David R. Price, Jr. P.A. to get answers to your questions and advice on how to proceed with any claims you may have.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.