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Could California workers get a Lyft from court rulings?

Two California court rulings could have profound effects on workers in our state. The cases share some qualities: both involve ride-sharing companies (Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc.) and both address issues of when workers should be considered employees and when they should be considered independent contractors.

As you undoubtedly know, workers classified as independent contractors are typically not eligible for workers' compensation, while most people who are considered employees do qualify for workers' comp when they get injured on the job.

The Wall Street Journal notes that if a verdict requires Uber and Lyft to reclassify drivers as employees, there could be a fundamental change in their business models. Such a verdict might well require those employers to pay not only for workers' comp insurance, but also into the unemployment insurance fund as well. Those additional costs might make their services less appealing and dry up the fountains of investments raining down on their growing businesses, the paper says.

Such decisions could be godsends for workers who are injured while on the job, however. No longer would they be on their own; they would instead qualify for workers' comp benefits when injured at work or if they acquired a work-related illness.

It would mean that injured workers would sometimes have to deal with insurers who would reject their workers' compensation claims, of course, and that would necessitate appeals with the help of attorneys experienced in this complex area of employment law.

The court rulings in the cases to be heard in San Francisco should be interesting. Stay tuned.

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