New York, NY – There are generally two kinds of drivers in the workers’ comp system: drivers who deliver people, and drivers who deliver things. Some are covered, some may be covered, and some are not covered at all.
Drivers who deliver people fall into three categories: medallion taxi drivers (yellow cabs); black car drivers (including Uber and Lyft), and livery drivers (green cabs and others who are not taxi or black car drivers). For purposes of workers’ comp, medallion taxi drivers are considered to be employed by the medallion owner and are covered by workers’ compensation while their shift is in progress. Black car drivers are considered to be employees of the Black Car Operators Insurance Fund and are also covered by workers’ compensation as long as they are engaged in a “covered service,” which usually means the app is on and they are en route to a pick up or have a passenger in the car. Livery drivers are generally not covered by workers’ comp unless they are the victim of a criminal assault or the injury meets a narrow legal definition.
Drivers who deliver things generally fall into two categories: traditional employees like freight drivers or overnight delivery company drivers (UPS, Fed Ex, etc) and non-traditional workers in the “gig economy” who may deliver for companies like Door Dash, Postmates and Uber Eats.
Traditional employees are generally covered by workers’ compensation, although in some cases there may be a dispute about whether the worker was an employee or an independent contractor. Thus far, however, the Workers’ Compensation Board has held that “gig economy” workers who deliver things – bike messengers, food delivery workers, etc – are not employees and are therefore not covered by workers’ comp. The Board has reasoned that these workers can choose who to work for, when to work, may accept or reject any assignment, can sometimes negotiate their own rates, and that these and other factors are not consistent with an employment relationship. However, in any given case the Board could reach a different decision on this issue, so an injured worker should consult with an attorney for advice about their particular situation.
Robert Grey is the managing partner of Grey & Grey, LLP and has been representing injured workers for over 30 years. For more information about workers’ compensation, personal injury, or social security disability, visit www.GreyAndGrey.com or email info@GreyAndGrey.com.