Could lawsuits over car accidents change how gig companies work?

One of the fastest growing job markets is the so-called "gig" market. These jobs typically involve independent contractors providing services on a temporary basis. Though this business model may save overhead costs, in the long run, this type of arrangement may prove to be quite costly. There have been several recent lawsuits over serious car accidents, including one here in Minnesota, that may change the way these companies do business.

According to the most recent lawsuit, an independent contractor was delivering for a local Bite Squad franchise. As the young man was attempting to complete an order, he struck a pedestrian. The 47-year-old woman died at a local hospital. Her family filed a lawsuit against the driver, his parents for permitting the use of their vehicle while he was possibly impaired, and Bite Squad. The suit alleges that the company shares in the responsibility since the 20-year-old was engaged in delivering under their name while distracted by their phone app at the time of the collision.

The company expressed condolences but refrained from further comment. This is not the first time that this type of company has come under fire for its business practices. Two previous suits have been based on the supposition that drivers who are distracted by these companies' phone apps pose a serious danger to passengers and others.

In both of the other lawsuits, the victims sustained injuries due to the negligence of the independent contractor. It is unclear whether these judges will determine that the use of phone apps to deploy drivers contributes to serious car accidents. However, there have been many states that have passed laws banning the use of cell phones while driving, including Minnesota. If one is injured by a negligent driver, the resulting injuries may also cause economic hardship. A successful personal injury civil suit may help victims recoup financially so they can focus on their physical recovery. 

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