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Gig Economy and Work Comp: Are Uber Drivers Covered?

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If an Uber driver gets in an accident while working (or is beaten up by a passenger), are they entitled to worker's compensation benefits?

Take a look at this interesting article: Gig Economy Workers Injured on the Job Should Get Workers' Comp Protections. The author indicates that most Uber drivers are labeled as independent contractors, which (if a legitimate labeling) would preclude a claim for worker's compensation. Worker's compensation policy allows the costs of a work injury to effectively be an employer's cost of doing business. Without worker's compensation, the significant expenses of a work injury are borne by the worker directly, along with the medical provider and potentially the taxpayers (through Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security Disability).

Disputes arise in many states, including Wisconsin, regarding whether an individual is an employee versus and independent contractor. Wisconsin law requires a specific nine-part test to be deemed an "independent contractor" (these include whether the individual maintained their own office and equipment; had a federal ID number; receives compensation on a per job or bid basis; incurs the main expenses related to the service; and others). This can be a difficult standard to meet, and the failure to meet the standard renders the individual an employee-with rights under the worker's compensation law. These include compensation for lost time benefits, permanent disability benefits, and medical treatment expenses.

At the current time, I'm unaware of any recent decisions addressing the issue of an Uber driver's claim for worker's compensation benefits....but it may come in short order on our state.

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