Medical Benefits for Injured Lyft Drivers
Chicago Lawyers Helping Gig Workers
As a Lyft rideshare driver, you may have signed a contract agreeing that you are an independent contractor. If you are injured as an independent contractor, the workers’ compensation system does not provide a safety net for work-related injuries. Fortunately, Lyft does not have the power to say that you are an independent contractor unless it can prove you are one in a relevant proceeding. Accordingly, medical benefits for injured Lyft drivers may be available. To determine whether you are eligible, contact the Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. We may be able to help you establish your entitlement to these important benefits.
In Illinois, employees injured on the job are entitled to medical benefits under their company’s workers’ compensation insurance. These benefits provide important health coverage to employees whose injuries require more than a single visit to the emergency room or a doctor’s office. You are presumed to be an employee unless Lyft can meet the criteria of an ABC test before an arbitrator in the workers’ compensation system. In order to show you are an independent contractor and not an employee, Lyft would need to prove: (1) it didn’t direct or control how you provided rides, (2) rideshares are outside its core business, and (3) you were engaged in a separately established trade, occupation, profession or business. While each case is different, rideshare drivers may possibly be treated as employees under the test.
Medical Benefits for Injured Lyft Drivers
A workers’ compensation insurer is required to pay for all necessary and reasonable medical care that you need in order to cure or relieve the effects of your injury. Depending on the extent of your injuries, this may include an emergency room visit, regular medical care, medications, medical equipment such as a wheelchair or crutches, physical therapy, and surgical and other procedures. In some cases, your treating doctor’s choice of treatment may be controversial to the insurer. The more expensive the medical care, the more likely your employer’s insurer is to balk at paying for it. For example, if you have a repetitive stress injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome, your employer’s insurer may resist paying for surgery, even if it’s reasonable and necessary. When an insurer is skeptical about the opinions of your treating physician or the nature or extent of your injuries, it might ask you to undergo an independent medical exam (IME).
In spite of its name, an independent medical exam is not independent. The insurer selects the doctor performing the exam, who often has a history of recommending more conservative treatment and responses to workers’ injuries. You should be aware that the IME doctor is not your treating physician and therefore isn’t required to maintain the confidence of anything you disclose. The purpose of the IME is so the doctor can prepare an evidentiary report that can be used in a proceeding to terminate or limit your benefits. For example, your own doctor may recommend that you undergo back surgery because physical therapy, medication and corticosteroid injections are not working. An IME doctor may take a different view and recommend you continue with the less expensive therapies or even return to work with severe pain. When making a decision, the arbitrator will consider which doctor is more credible given the facts presented. Some employees retain a lawyer to prosecute or settle their workers’ compensation claims. Legal counsel may be warranted when the employer disputes liability, challenges medical bills or refuses to pay disability compensation in a timely manner.
Choosing a Doctor
When you are seeking medical care for a work-related injury, you may select your own doctor. You should inform the doctor that your injury is work-related from the first visit so that the doctor bills the insurer and so that a record of documentation is created indicating that you sustained a work-related injury.
If Lyft participates in a preferred provider network, you are entitled to choose a doctor from that network. If you remain in-network, you may select a different doctor if you do not like your initial choice. Either the first or second doctor can refer you to specialists, who will not count against your two choices. If you seek treatment from a third doctor because you did not like your initial two selections, you will be responsible for paying for the third doctor. If you initially chose a doctor outside the network, you are only allowed one choice.
Consult a Seasoned Attorney in Chicago
As a rideshare driver you may encounter hazards on the road or sustain repetitive stress injuries. If you have concerns about medical benefits for injured Lyft drivers in Chicago, you should discuss your circumstances with Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our lawyers handle claims by rideshare drivers in Aurora, Quincy, Champaign, and Rockford, along with Winnebago, Cook, Adams, Sangamon, and Kane Counties. Call us at 312-724-5846 or complete our online form.