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Suing Uber? It's More Complicated Than You Think

The ride-hailing app, Uber, has revolutionized the way people are getting around New York. Easy to use, and with nearly instant pick up in most parts of the metropolitan area, it has helped the elderly, the disabled—and even the intoxicated—find their way home.

But what happens when it is the driver who is drunk or impaired by drugs?

It turns out this is not such an unusual situation. It was recently revealed that in California, 154 complaints of uber drivers driving intoxicated were filed from August 2014 to August 2015. What’s worse, the state of California found that Uber only investigated three of those cases.

Evidence of Uber drivers running afoul of the law can be found in every state. From sexual assaults to vehicular homicide, the company has been the subject of numerous lawsuits seeking damages, often settling on confidential terms.

Suing Uber for its wrongdoing is tricky, though. That’s because its drivers are classified as independent contractors, not employees. This distinction is a very important one because it determines what taxes must be paid and what employee protections must be extended. It also determines who is liable—Uber or the driver—in the event that a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or other motorist is harmed.

Two recent rulings on opposite sides of the country illustrate a trend in how states are treating Uber’s unique independent contractor/employee situation:

•In a case in New York, an Uber driver filed for unemployment insurance after his work dried up due to an influx of new drivers. Uber claimed he was not eligible for unemployment because he was an independent contractor. The New York State Department of Labor recently ruled that he was an employee in all aspects but name and cleared the way for him to receive benefits.

•In a case in California, a young child was struck by an Uber car and died. Uber tried to argue that it was not responsible for the girl’s death, but the California courts disagreed. They settled out of court.

Any lawyer filing suit against Uber for negligence, or anything else, needs to be able to make sense of all the different, often conflicting, laws that govern an international business like Uber. Contact Levine & Wiss, PLLC today with questions or comments.

Looking for the best personal injury attorney on Long Island? Look no further than the offices of Levine and Wiss. Our attorneys have over 80 years of combined experience in helping our clients get the compensation and medical coverage that they are entitled to.

Contact us at 1.888.GOT.HURT to schedule a FREE consultation today. Our lines are always open!