Uber, St. Louis Metro Taxi Cab Commission, and Safety
The St. Louis Metro Taxi Cab Commission (“MTC”) has spent the better part of a year keeping Uber out of the St. Louis market claiming that their primary concern is safety. Safety of the drivers and pedestrians of the St. Louis area. At the same time they claim safety is the primary concern, members of the MTC and taxicab company owners tout that all of the cab drivers are independent contractor entrepreneurs. This means that the taxi cab drivers are not technically employees of the cab companies, and this can cause major issues for you if you are involved in an accident involving a taxicab.
Many people don’t know the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, there is no flashing sign or nametag that says: independent contractor. In fact, they walk, talk, and act much like employees. However, a business is responsible for the actions of their employees, but not necessarily responsible for the actions of an independent contractor because, they are, as their name suggests, independent.
For example, if you are the victim of an accident where a taxicab driver is at fault, you may think that, like most businesses, the taxicab company is responsible for the actions of the people they hire. However, because the taxicab companies claim to use “independent contractors” as drivers, they deny responsibility and will even try to deny any liability arising from the accident. Meaning, that they will do whatever they can to avoid paying you for your injuries, despite the accident being caused by a driver that they hired, they sent to you, and they manage.
Not only does the use of independent contractors as cab drivers make it more difficult for you to recover if you are injured as a result of a cab drivers actions, it also disincentives safety for the taxicab companies. If the taxicab company does not anticipate being responsible for the injuries caused by their drivers, than they are less likely to properly train and prepare their drivers to handle situations properly. Taxicab safety in the St. Louis area is an issue, but not for the reason that the MTC would like to make you think.