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UPDATE: The Law on Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Uber Drivers

This article updates a past article on whether app-based drivers and workers are eligible for workers’ compensation ...

UPDATE: The Law on Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Uber Drivers

May 14 Written By Jeff Guarrera

This article updates a past article on whether app-based drivers and workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for a work-related injury. At the time of that article, Prop 22 was a ballot measure for the upcoming November 3, 2020 election. Prop 22 has since then become the law. This article sets out to define the state of the law following its outcome.

Background on Prop 22

Rideshare and other app-based companies required their drivers to agree to be classified as “independent contractors” and not “employees.” This difference affects the rights the drivers are entitled to, including coverage by workers’ compensation insurance if they are ever injured on the job.

However, the state of California, through the courts and the Public Utilities Commission, disagreed with this classification and ordered these businesses to reclassify their workers as employees.

While fighting this in court in late 2020, the rideshare companies put Proposition 22 on the November 2020 ballot. Prop 22 would constitutionally define app-based drivers as independent contractors and explicitly take them out of the workers’ compensation system. On November 3, 2020, voters approved Prop 22 by nearly 59%.

There is a lawsuit that contends Prop 22 is unconstitutional pending in state court. But as of the date of this article, Prop 22 is the law.

What Happens If I am Injured While Driving for Uber?

Prop 22 contains a “Loss and Liability Protection Provision” that requires rideshare and other app-based companies to provide:

“For the benefit of app-based drivers, occupational accident insurance to cover medical expenses and lost income resulting from injuries suffered while the app-based driver is online with a network company’s online-enabled application or platform.”

Policies cover medical expenses incurred up to at least one million dollars, pay disability amounts equal to 66% of the app-based driver’s average weekly earnings from all network companies as of the date of the injury, with minimum and maximum weekly payments matching temporary disability indemnity limits found in the California Labor Code.

Occupational accident insurance benefits are not required to cover an accident that occurs while you are online but not engaged in services.

So to summarize, if you get injured while driving Uber or any of the other rideshare or app-based companies, your medical expenses are covered up to one million dollars and you will receive temporary disability payments equal to 66% of your income under qualifying circumstances.

How different is that from workers’ compensation benefits? Actually, very different.

What Benefits Do I Get from Workers’ Compensation?

The workers’ compensation system recognizes claims resulting from injuries and illnesses. The language of Prop 22’s Loss and Liability Protection mandates coverage only for injuries. Whether or not illnesses are covered may depend on the insurance policy. But rideshare driving during the pandemic puts Uber drivers at risk of getting sick while on the job. This is a glaring gap that the state has ensured covered under its workers’ compensation system.

One million dollars of medical expenses sounds like a lot. However, it may be insufficient for treating catastrophic injuries. Workers’ compensation law does not limit the amount of medical treatment an employer may be responsible for.

An additional benefit provided by workers’ compensation is vocational training. If you are permanently incapable of performing your regular job, vocational training can assist you transition to other work. This benefit is noticeably absent under Prop 22.

Another benefit provided by workers’ compensation is permanent disability indemnification. This compensates you for your reduced capacity to work after you have been provided with as much treatment as possible to enable you a full recovery.

A final difference is how you can defend your rights under occupational accident insurance. Under workers’ compensation law, you have the right to an attorney and to have your claim resolved by a judge when you disagree with how your doctor or the insurance company handles your injury. What happens when you disagree with Uber’s insurance company? Does the policy require private arbitration? These questions do not have clear answers yet. But you have greater peace of mind under workers’ compensation.  

Call SoCal Workers Comp for Answers

If you drive for the rideshare companies or work for any of the app-based services and get injured, call SoCal Workers Comp for a free consultation on your options. Even if we cannot pursue a workers’ compensation claim, we can inform you of your rights and indicate how to best protect them. Call or schedule a consultation now.

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