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Is Uber Liable for Its Drivers’ Accidents?

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A Florida appellate court recently ruled that Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. The case at hand, Darrin McGills v. Raiser LLC, d/b/a UBER, involved an Uber driver who had been fired and later filed for unemployment benefits. The Florida Department of Revenue backed this decision, finding that McGillis was acting as an employee rather than an independent contractor, which is how Uber defines its drivers.

Florida’s Third DCA, however, took a different stance in its 14-page opinion, holding that drivers are in fact contractors of the company and therefore not eligible for unemployment compensation. In the opinion, the court cited the fact that while Uber does hold the power to terminate drivers, these individuals still provide their own vehicles and have the ability to create their own schedules. Furthermore, the company does not provide direct supervision over these individuals when they are acting on its behalf, and thus the Third DCA determined drivers could not be considered employees.

The Personal Injury Law Connection

So, why is this case important to a Miami personal injury law? Essentially, the court’s finding brings forth other questions regarding the relationship between Uber and its drivers. Specifically, is the company liable in cases where a driver operating on behalf of the company gets into an accident? This question is unanswered by the McGills decision, but it does open the door for personal injury courts to deem Uber not liable in these scenarios. However, a dedicated attorney may still be able to find an avenue for liability against Uber. For instance, the company could be held liable if the driver was negligently hired by Uber (such as an individual who had been previously convicted of a DUI or had a known history of alcoholism or reckless driving).

If the San Francisco-based transportation company is held accountable for the accidents its independent contractors are involved in, it would be liable for passengers’ injuries, damage done to other vehicles and property, and even injuries to passengers involved. That being said, the best protection for the public is to carry uninsured motorist coverage to make certain one is protected no matter the situation. Such added protection applies to drivers as well family members in their household if the other party involved does not have insurance.

If you have questions about personal injury law as it relates to vehicular accidents, a Miami personal injury attorney at Graham Legal is always available to provide you with answers. Give our office a call today to schedule a free consultation.

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