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Peer-to-peer companies don't offer workers' comp

Thanks to peer-to-peer companies, it’s now easier than ever to support yourself without technically being an employee. Instead, you’re just an independent contractor. You can often set your own schedule and, in that sense, control your wages.

One thing that is important to note, though, is that the peer-to-peer platform that you use doesn’t consider you an employee and so it does not have to pay workers’ compensation.

For example, perhaps you’re thinking of driving for Uber, essentially using your car like a taxi. If you were employed by a taxi company, you’d have workers’ comp, but Uber just considers itself a web platform that connects drivers and passengers, not an employer. Therefore, if you get hurt—perhaps you’re punched in the face by a passenger, something that happens frighteningly often—you have to pay for the medical costs yourself. If you can’t drive while you heal, they don’t have to pay you money for lost wages.

The same is true for many other platforms. For instance, you could become a house cleaner using Homejoy and slip on an unsafe stairway in someone’s home. You may be able to sue the homeowner, but Homejoy wouldn’t pay you for the injury.

In the modern age, it’s incredibly important to know what companies are obligated to do and what responsibility falls on contract workers. This can have a huge impact on what you can do, legally speaking, when you’re hurt on the job. If you understand this from the beginning, you can take steps to protect yourself, such as getting excellent personal health coverage, but you don’t want to be surprised by high medical bills you thought would be covered.

Source: Forbes, “What Happens To Uber Drivers And Other Sharing Economy Workers Injured On The Job?,” Ellen Huet, accessed May 24, 2016