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Ridesharing in the Age of the Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted industries that once remained at the forefront of growth, and ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are some of the hardest hit in the coronavirus economy. Each company saw its earnings plummet as social distancing and stay-at-home orders were implemented to slow the spread, and both company executives and drivers alike were faced with dwindling profits. Drivers, in particular, bore the brunt of the chaos, as they watched their average sales fall dramatically from a lack of ridesharing passengers, and were put into situations that endangered their health and safety if they wanted to continue earning. 

Passengers, likewise, found themselves wondering whether hopping into an Uber remained safe, and what their rights were should they encounter a driver who wasn’t adhering to Uber and Lyft guidelines regarding mask wearing or proper social distancing measures. Needless to say, our personal injury lawyer is well aware that a variety of legal questions have emerged regarding what might give rise to a lawsuit during the age of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Drivers Have Sued Uber and Lyft in California

Faced with a choice of staying home without pay and risking losing their livelihood, drivers across California have continued to expose themselves to coronavirus infection, causing a ripple effect of contagion while unfairly endangering themselves in the process. As such, a group of drivers sued both companies for not offering drivers sick pay in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

In response, Uber responded that drivers would be eligible for sick pay if they provided appropriate documentation of a coronavirus diagnosis, or were placed into quarantine, asked to self-isolate, or were removed from the app under the direction of a local public health organization. Lyft issued similar guidelines, stating that sick pay would be eligible for those who were diagnosed or otherwise placed into quarantine by public officials. 

Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft drivers find themselves in compromised positions as independent contractors, because these types of workers rarely have benefits such as sick leave or paid time off. Likewise, the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic could sway this suit in the drivers’ favor.

How Ridesharing Companies Are Responding to Passenger Safety Concerns

In order to protect themselves from litigation by passengers, Uber and Lyft have prohibited their popular pool services so that riders who don’t know each other no longer ride together. The company is also requiring rider and driver to both wear face masks, and is instituting required cleaning policies that drivers must follow. Critics of these policies were quick to point out that cleanliness protocols can mean different things to different drivers, and that it’s not entirely fair to put the onus on drivers to clean when it’s the company that would derive the highest profit margin from the ride.

As such, passengers should still be cautious and pay close attention to how a driver behaves while working for Uber and Lyft. Otherwise, the ridesharing legal landscape can get quite uncomfortable for the foreseeable future. 

Seek Legal Guidance from Our Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been sickened or injured while using the services of a ridesharing company and you would like to speak to a personal injury lawyer or car accident attorney about your options under the law, contact us today.