Uber and Uber Drivers


Ride-share accidents are common. Drivers are often distracted and inattentive. A common defense by the ride-share companies, such as Uber, is that they can’t be held at fault because the drivers are not employees. The California legislature recently struck a blow to that defense.


Recently California lawmakers passed a landmark bill that
threatens ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft. The legislation, called
Assembly Bill 5, will require ride-share workers to be reclassified as
employees instead of contractors.  The
bill is set to go into effect on January 1, 2020.


Uber downplays the law’s impact and argues it will not apply
to its business. We have experience with ride-share litigation. This new law
will make it more difficult for companies to escape the conclusion that they
are transportation companies and their drivers are employees.


In California, an employer is responsible for the wrongful
acts of its workers committed during the scope of employment. In contrast, the
employer is not responsible for the actions of independent contractors.

Ride-share companies have taken the position that they are
nothing more than technology companies that generate leads for drivers.

The California Public Utilities Commission has already
dismissed that assertion. The PUC concluded that Uber requires a license as a
transportation provider.

Also, many courts have rejected Uber’s assertion that it is
not a transportation provider. As an example, in O’Connor v. Uber Technologies,
Inc., the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
denied Uber’s motion to dismiss based on the argument its drivers were only
independent contractors.

The Court concluded that drivers were presumed to be
employees because they performed services for the benefit of Uber.

The Court further found that whether an Uber driver was an
employee or independent contractor could not be decided as a matter of law. A
jury must resolve the question.

The Court believed there were many facts material to the
employee/independent contractor determination in dispute. As examples of
disputed facts, Uber argued it was not a transportation company. However, the
O’Connor Court found that Uber had previously represented itself as a transportation
company, referring to itself as an “On-Demand Car Service,” and
“Everyone’s Private Driver.”

Uber further argued that it was nothing more than a lead
generating company. The O’Connor Court disagreed, finding that:

                  1) Uber was deeply involved in marketing its transportation services,

qualifying and selecting drivers,

inspecting the vehicles a driver uses,

regulating and monitoring the performance of drivers,

disciplining (or terminating) drivers who fail to meet Uber standards, and

setting prices.


If you are injured because of the negligence or wrongdoing of an Uber or Lyft driver, you have a viable claim against the driver and the ride-share company. We know how to prosecute these cases against the driver and the company. Schedule a free consultation so we can maximize the value of your case.