Drivers not permitted to make workers’ compensation claims

Because Uber argues that its drivers are not employees, the company does not allow them to make workers’ compensation claims for injuries that occur in the workplace, i.e. while driving.

In a May 2017 addition, Uber began to offer an optional insurance program to drivers.  Nonetheless, Uber’s policy is importantly inferior to workers’ compensation.  1) Uber’s policy comes at at an additional cost that drivers must pay, whereas workers’ compensation is automatically provided by employers to employees at no charge. 2) Uber’s optional coverage maxes out at half of a driver’s average weekly earnings, whereas many states require that workers’ compensation pay out more (two thirds of salary in California, Massachusetts, and New York). 3) Uber’s policy requires drivers to submit disputes to arbitration, whereas workers’ compensation disputes are overseen by public boards. 4) Uber’s policy covers only total disabilities that prevent a driver from working at all, whereas workers’ compensation covers partial disabilities.

Uber driver killed girl in crosswalk

On December 31, 2013, an Uber driver killed six-year-old Sophia Liu, who was walking in a crosswalk with her mother and brother.  At the time, the driver was between rides (with the Uber app open, hoping for a new request) but not actively serving a Uber passenger.  As a result, Uber denied that it was responsible or had to pay. Uber offered automatic insurance to all drivers, but the insurance offered no coverage in this circumstance.

In response to a lawsuit brought by Sophia’s family, Uber argued that it is merely a “technology company,” that it “did not cause this tragic accident.”

Without admitting that it was obliged to provide payment in this circumstance, Uber ultimately reached a confidential settlement with Sophia’s family.

Ang Jiang Liu Et Al v. Uber Technologies, Inc. Et Al. Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, Case No. CGC 14 536979.  Docket.