Overworked Drivers & Rideshare Companies With Less Responsibility For Injuries
California voters have just approved Proposition 22. While this is great news for rideshare companies Uber and Lyft, it’s going to cause problems for pedestrians and everyone else on the road. Why? Because Prop 22 allows gig economy companies to continue putting pressure on drivers without taking responsibility for their actions.
Prop 22 is a loophole to a previous law, AB5, that was intended to ensure that Uber and Lyft had to pay their drivers a living wage. However, Prop 22 has given these companies the freedom to avoid liability, properly vetting their drivers, or paying drivers well. The result is almost certainly going to be more dangerous roads for everyone.
Why Employee Classification Matters
The most significant change made by Prop 22 is that it allows rideshare and other “gig economy” companies to continue treating their employees as independent contractors. The difference between full employees and independent contractors is important, and not just for the employees themselves.
Full employees are legally connected to their employer by a contract. This contract allows the company to control when and how often they work. In return, true employees are eligible for many benefits, such as overtime pay, health insurance, and most importantly, protection from liability. Since employees are considered representatives of the company, the company that employs them is usually liable for any harm they cause while on the job.
Independent contractors technically work for themselves, even if they only provide work for one company. As a result, if an independent contractor is involved in an accident, they are the ones that can be sued for negligence, not the company paying them.
Prop 22’s Effect on Rideshare Liability
The benefits of Prop 22 for Uber and Lyft are enormous. Not only do these companies get to avoid offering their drivers genuine health benefits or overtime, they also get protection from liability. Since their drivers will continue to be classed as independent contractors, rideshare companies themselves won’t be liable for any accidents that involve these drivers.
This is excellent for the companies; they don’t have to worry about the financial impact of accidents. There’s no pressure on rideshare companies to hire safer drivers. In fact, the law gives these companies an incentive to encourage dangerous driving if it means getting more riders in the same amount of time.
For pedestrians and drivers, however, this can be devastating. Drivers who get in an accident are likely to face serious consequences even if it wasn’t their fault. Meanwhile, people hurt in rideshare accidents will need to fight harder to receive compensation for their injuries. Prop 22 is good for rideshare companies but bad for everyone else in L.A.
Prop 22 Harms Everyone but Corporations
The passage of Prop 22 is only benefiting big corporations like Uber and Lyft. The lack of employer liability for these big corporations puts everyone else at more risk. Rideshare companies have little reason to reduce accidents, and the accident rate may even rise with the bill’s financial incentives. If you’re living in L.A., you should be prepared for legal complications if you’re hit by a rideshare driver who’s on the clock.