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Rideshare / Uber / Lyft Accidents & Injury

The transportation industry is constantly evolving. One area of our practice that has evolved most quickly is injury litigation involving the so-called ride share companies like Uber, Lyft and Via. Uber, Lyft and Via operate in Chicago under a license from the City of Chicago which requires the company to annually inspect its drivers vehicles and do a background check before hiring, but little else. The net result of the operation of rideshare in Chicago is that Uber, Lyft and Via are operating underregulated livery operations in Chicago with little regard for the safety and well being of the passengers. This is accomplished by an utter lack of concern and/or supervision of the drivers once they become onboarded with the rideshare company. Uber, Lyft and Via then abdicate supervision and say that they are not responsible for the conduct of rideshare drivers because the drivers themselves are not employees of the rideshare company. This is laughable, and in our vast experience in this area of the law, unsupported by what the well settled law in Illinois and the facts of almost every single case that we have prosecuted on behalf of people injured by rideshare drivers.

Why do Rideshare Companies Claim Drivers are not Employees?

The answer to this question is simple. Uber, Lyft and Via are looking to avoid responsibilities and maximize profits. If they admit that their drivers are their actual agents, a host of responsibilities then become the responsibility of the rideshare company. It is far more profitable for Uber, Lyft and Via to claim that its drivers are independent contractors. That way they can try to avoid responsibilities to both the drivers, passengers and the general public, responsibilities like paying a minimum wage, having workers compensation insurance, insuring the well-being of their passengers and the financial responsibility for the damage and injuries that are the fault of their drivers. Just because Uber, Lyft and Via say that their drivers are independent contractors DOES NOT MEAN THAT THIS FACT IS TRUE. In fact, the opposite is true. The law in Illinois is clear. Uber, Lyft and Via drivers are the actual agents of Uber, Lyft and Via. In Illinois, the key factor in determining actual agency is control. There are countless ways that we have demonstrated that rideshare drivers are the actual agents of the rideshare companies and under their control. The rideshare companies continue to deny that their drivers are their agents.

In 2019 the Economic Policy Institute published a white paper in its academic journal called Uber drivers are not independent contractors. NLRB’s General Counsel erroneously misclassifies these gig economy workers. In that paper, the author demonstrates this truth through some very convincing fact-based arguments centered on the issue of control. These arguments include the following:

  • Rideshare drivers can’t expand revenues because they can’t control prices or expand their customer base through marketing.
  • Unlike a typical enterprise, rideshare drivers do not build earnings as they get more experience.
  • Rideshare drivers are not able to choose their customers—drivers are penalized for rejecting or not accepting trips.
  • Drivers do not even have basic control over how they deliver rides—drivers can be penalized for picking inefficient routes (as per Rideshare Parent’s judgment).
  • Rideshare drivers are “supervised” by semi-automated and algorithmic systems that track their acceptance rates, time on trips, speed, customer ratings, and other factors, and drivers can be “deactivated” based on these factors.
  • Because Rideshare charges riders a predetermined rate but pays drivers based on actual miles covered and minutes spent, the company clearly has a financial incentive to control drivers.
  • Rideshare driver earnings also do not mirror those of entrepreneurs. Rideshare drivers earn minimum wages, or less, and the rideshare companies own IPOs compare driver earnings to those in low-wage industries such as retail and restaurants

These arguments directly contradict the rideshare companies claims that their drivers are independent and not the agents of the company. For this reason, and many others, it is imperative that any lawyer litigating with a rideshare is prepared to debunk each and every fallacy that the rideshare companies press as fact on the issue of agency. At Goldberg & Goldberg we are uniquely positioned by both our experience and creativity to stand up to the powerful forces that will no doubt position themselves against your rideshare claim. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have the experience that you require to achieve justice in your rideshare case.

All Manner of Evils

Claims against rideshare companies cover all manner of evils. Some of our claims involve simple accidents involving drivers or passenger in rideshare vehicles. Others involve accidents involving rideshare drivers and third-party vehicle operators, pedestrians or bicyclists. Furthermore, some claims involve rideshare drivers assaulting or sexually assaulting passengers. Statistics have shown that traffic related accidents have increased in some cities by as much as 5% since ride share applications have become prevalent.

What Should I do in the Event of an Accident?

In the event that you are injured in a rideshare related accident, the most important thing to do is immediately seek the medical attention that is necessary. It is also important to make an accident report with the police. In the event of an injury case, it is in your best interest that the responding officer hear your version of the events so that his narrative report is not inappropriately based on the driver’s version of events. Contacting a lawyer at Goldberg & Goldberg will get you in touch with someone with experience in protecting your rights when dealing with the powerful voices that will be at work against you. A consultation with the attorneys at Goldberg & Goldberg is always free of charge.

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