Colorado Workers’ Compensation for Rideshare Drivers
Learn about your options for recovering compensation if you were injured while driving for Uber or Lyft
Once a niche market, ridesharing has become an industry worth $85.8 billion. The two major ridesharing companies, Uber and Lyft, offer all kinds of perks to those who sign up as drivers. These include the flexibility to make your own hours, work in your choice of neighborhoods, and get paid several times per day.
There are downsides to the careers of Uber and Lyft drivers, however. The biggest example is how compensation works after an accident or injury. If you’re considering a job in ridesharing, you’ll want to know in advance about this potential drawback.
What are some common injuries to Uber/Lyft drivers?
There are hazards associated with a job as a rideshare driver, especially if you’re doubling as a delivery person for a company like Uber Eats and not just transporting passengers through Uber itself. Here are a few of the most common ways that Uber and Lyft drivers get hurt on the job:
- Car accident injuries. Rideshare accidents can range from simple fender-benders to catastrophic and even fatal crashes. Just like any job that involves being on the road, rideshare drivers are at risk for car accidents and all of their associated injuries, including:
- Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). A repetitive strain injury (like carpal tunnel syndrome) is a type of injury caused by constant and repeated motion with the same muscles. These typically affect drivers in the neck, shoulders, back and feet. RSIs can cause everything from pain and immobility to tingling and numbness.
- Injuries from violence. As a driver, you’ll have frequent contact with the public, and this includes the possibility of sharing a vehicle with someone angry, intoxicated or just plain unstable. There have been many instances of violent altercations in Uber and Lyft vehicles. Some have even resulted in murder.
Are Uber drivers considered employees or independent contractors?
If you’re a rideshare driver, you’re an independent contractor. This means that you might work through Uber or Lyft, but you aren’t considered their employee. Here are just a few of the key differences:
- Taxes. As an employee, you have taxes withheld from your paychecks. As an independent contractor, no taxes are withheld, but you have to pay self-employment taxes.
- Benefits. Employees are entitled to workplace benefits, including workers’ compensation benefits, after an injury. Independent contractors receive no benefits.
- Pay and schedule. Employees work for set hours and wages. Independent contractors usually work on a task-to-task or project-to-project basis with variable and negotiable contracts.
Are rideshare drivers entitled to workers’ comp benefits in Colorado after an injury?
Can Uber drivers get workers’ comp?
Not usually. Since rideshare drivers are independent contractors, they aren’t legally classified as employees, which means that they aren’t eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
However, depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver or a third-party lawsuit against a manufacturer if a defective part contributed to your accident. An experienced car accident attorney can help you explore your legal options for recovering compensation.
Whose insurance pays if a rideshare driver causes an accident?
If a rideshare driver causes an accident, whose insurance covers the costs? Is it the responsibility of the rideshare driver or the rideshare company?
The short answer is that it depends on the “phase” that your incident falls under if you’re a rideshare driver:
- Phase 1. Your rideshare app is turned off, and you aren’t currently working. These accidents are covered by your personal auto insurance.
- Phase 2. Your app is turned on, and you’re on duty but not currently transporting a passenger. These accidents are covered by the rideshare company’s insurance and their third-party liability protection up to a limited amount. However, Uber does not cover the Uber driver’s property damage or injuries.
- Phase 3. Your app is turned on, and you’re transporting a passenger at the time of the accident. The rideshare company’s insurance will offer uninsured/underinsured coverage, contingent collision and comprehensive coverage, and third-party liability coverage. Unlike in the other phases, this coverage will also apply to the Uber driver as long as they aren’t responsible for the accident.
If you’re a rideshare passenger, these phases don’t apply. If you’re injured in an accident while being transported by a rideshare driver, you would file a claim against their insurance just like any other accident. They can sort out whether to apply their company-provided insurance or their own “regular” car insurance. If the accident is the fault of another driver, you would do the same—file a claim against their insurance as you would for any other type of crash.
Receiving compensation through a personal injury claim
What if I’m injured on the job as a rideshare driver through no fault of my own?
If the other driver was at fault, then your best bet is a personal injury lawsuit. This is when you sue another party because their negligence caused your injury. For example, if you’re hurt in a car accident while driving for Uber or Lyft, you can sue the other driver. It wouldn’t be a workers’ compensation claim, but it could net you similar or even better benefits in the end.
How do you prove fault in Colorado?
Fault is established in Colorado by proving negligence. There are 4 elements to negligence:
- A duty of care
- A breach of that duty of care
- Causation of injuries
- Damages suffered because of the injury
To put it simply, you’ll argue that the other driver breached their duty of care by not following the rules of the road, and you’ll offer proof that you got hurt because of their negligence.
What is modified comparative fault, and how does it impact personal injury cases in Colorado?
The comparative fault rule is a legal principle that weighs how much each party is responsible for an accident. Their compensation for damages is then adjusted accordingly.
In Colorado, car accidents are judged against something called the 50% bar rule. This means that plaintiffs can only receive damages if they’re determined to be less than 50% at fault for an accident.
What’s more, your compensation is reduced based on whatever percentage of fault you’re assigned. So if a judge determines you were 25% at fault for an accident, your final compensation would be reduced by 25%. If you’re at 51% fault or higher, you’ll get nothing at all.
What type of compensation is available through a personal injury lawsuit if you can prove the other driver is at fault?
If you’ve suffered Lyft or Uber injuries, you might be entitled to several types of compensation, including:
- Economic damages. These include medical bills, car damage and lost income, including future lost income.
- Non-economic damages. These include compensation for nonmonetary losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of companionship.
- Punitive damages. These are given in rare circumstances as a form of punishment to the other party, often for intentional wrongdoing.
How to get compensation after a rideshare accident in Colorado
If you’re a rideshare driver trying to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, here are the steps to take:
- Seek medical attention to establish proof of your injuries and prevent them from getting worse.
- Keep a record of all your medical bills and property damage expenses.
- Limit phone conversations and e-mail correspondence with an insurance adjuster until you speak with an attorney.
- Talk to a personal injury attorney who can help you gather proof, establish fault, perform well during insurance investigations, and maximize your chances of a settlement.
- File a personal injury claim with the court within 3 years of the accident.
It’s a straightforward process, but there can be a lot of details and deadlines to navigate, so it’s definitely worth hiring a personal injury lawyer to increase your chance of success.
Contact a Colorado car accident attorney
If you’ve been injured in a rideshare accident in the Denver area because of someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Babcock Law Firm. Our attorneys are committed to helping injured Coloradans get the compensation they need after an accident while they recover from their injuries. Let us handle the negotiations with the insurance company so you can focus on healing.
Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.