New York Law Aids Livery Drivers’ Access to Workers’ Compensation

July 28, 2008

New York livery drivers will now have better access to workers’ benefits.

Gov. David A. Paterson announced Friday that he has signed a law to aid the drivers in New York City, and in Westchester and Nassau counties.

Until now, injured livery drivers could go years without compensation as their cases bounced between the no-fault insurance and workers’ compensation systems, Paterson said in a statement.

The new law establishes rules to define which drivers are employees and which are independent contractors. It also will create a fund, beginning Jan. 1, 2009, that establishes full workers’ compensation coverage for independent-contractor drivers who suffer serious injuries on the job.

“The livery cab industry is a key element of New York City’s public transportation network, as well as a job-producing machine for tens of thousands of New Yorkers,” Paterson said. He added that the law “will reform a system that has been bogged down by bureaucracy for too long.”

“We commend and applaud this initiative that we have so long awaited,” said Fernando Mateo, founder of the New York State Association of Taxi Drivers.

Mateo said the measure “will benefit every driver that risks his life every day to serve his community. Unfortunately, for years these drivers had no coverage whatsoever, and many have suffered hardships due to injury, assaults, robberies and even murder on the job.”

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., also called the law “long overdue.”

“These livery cab drivers — most of whom are immigrants who, in the tradition of so many others, work nonstop to give their families a shot at the American Dream — deserve some sense of security as they ride the streets night and day,” said Rangel.

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