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Contractor status of Uber drivers could affect crash victims

By now, many people in the Las Vegas area have probably had the opportunity to use Uber or Lyft at least once. When using Uber, a driver, who may be just an average citizen with a car and some spare time, picks up and drops off passengers in his or her personal vehicle.

The driver has to provide his or her own gas and vehicle and pay for the vehicle's upkeep, but the tradeoff is he or she can work flexible hours and as much or as little as he or she wants.

It is for this reason that Uber calls its drivers independent contractors, and not employees. Some state courts, however, have disagreed and instead held that Uber has enough rules imposed on, and controls over, the drivers such that they are indeed the drivers' employer. The law in this area is in flux right now, but the outcome will have a profound impact on how Uber operates its business.

From the perspective of those who get hurt in commercial vehicle accidents involving an Uber driver, the distinction between independent contractor and employee is important as to how easy it would be to sue Uber itself after an accident. If an Uber driver is an employee, then Uber will be held responsible for the driver's negligence if the driver was working at the time of an accident.

If, on the other hand, an Uber driver is an independent contractor, then, in order to sue Uber, a victim is going to have to show more than just that the driver worked for Uber. They will have to prove that Uber acted negligently when it hired, or supervised the work of, the driver involved.

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