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Gig Economy Lawsuits in Columbia, MO

As popularity grows for rideshare and food delivery services, there have been more and more accusations of drivers committing assault or otherwise injuring a customer. DoorDash, Grubhub, Lyft, Uber, and others say they do not hold liability for these incidents because, in a gig economy, drivers are not employees, they are independent contractors working for themselves. Courts are beginning to disagree with that argument. Someone who was injured by one of these drivers should consult with a personal injury attorney from the AW Smith Law Firm about filing a gig economy lawsuit in Columbia, MO.

What Plaintiffs Allege About Gig Drivers

The goal of an attorney is to prove that DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber, Lyft, and other gig economy transport and food delivery companies are responsible for the acts of their drivers. The doctrine of vicarious liability assigns blame for an employee’s actions to an employer who fails to supervise or train an employee properly, or who should have known someone would get hurt given the circumstances. This negligence might include failing to conduct a background report or install safety equipment in cars to protect passengers from the drivers.

If the courts accept the idea that rideshare and food delivery companies are responsible for acts their drivers commit, a Columbia attorney must prove the elements of negligence. Gig economy drivers have a duty to ensure the safety of their passengers, but they fail that duty if they commit an assault that injures a customer.

Exceptions That Place Blame on the Rideshare and Delivery Companies

Rideshare and food delivery companies often argue they are not employers and vicarious liability should therefore not apply to them. Although that was true in the past, it is now basically an accepted rule that if drivers are acting within the scope of employment, the companies should be liable. The nexus is illustrated by the way rideshare and delivery companies operate in tandem with drivers. They collect the fees from clients, dispatch the drivers, and disburse the drivers’ portion of the fees to them.

The AW Smith Firm believes a lawsuit is appropriate in Columbia if the hiring party controls the way the independent contractor performs the job, is negligent in choosing or supervising the independent contractor, or violates public policy by delegating to the contractor a non-delegable duty of care to keep customers safe.

How Prevalent Are Gig Economy Assaults?

Uber and Lyft agreed to release the number of sexual assault complaints they receive so the public is aware. Over a six-year period, the rideshare companies received almost 14,000 complaints from passengers claiming they were assaulted by drivers or from drivers assaulted by passengers.

Federal court judges have rule against the independent contractor defense numerous times. In one case, Uber asked that a lawsuit against it be dropped because the driver was not employed by them. The court stressed that the contractual language for independent contractor status was not as relevant as the actual relationship between the parties. In another case, the court opined that the jury and any Uber passenger would reasonably believe the driver worked for the company.

Contact The AW Smith Firm About Filing a Gig Economy Lawsuit in Columbia

The gig economy has led to a lot of legal questions concerning employment law, as well as personal injury law. Someone who was harmed while utilizing a rideshare or who was assaulted by a delivery driver needs to work with an attorney who understands how these claims work. The business’s insurance company will be out in full force trying to remove liability from their insured.

As courts continue to interpret the law in the spirit it was intended – to protect vulnerable people from harm by others – it is likely that for-profit companies will continue to be held accountable for the acts of their drivers. The AW Smith Law Firm can work with you to file a gig economy lawsuit in Columbia. Call us and schedule a free consultation.