Livery drivers are drivers who transport passengers pursuant to a dispatch from a livery base. The driver and the base is a crucial link in the transportation network in New York City. The problem of whether and how to provide livery drivers with workers' compensation benefits has bedeviled the workers' compensation system for many years. Prior to the enactment of Article 6-G of the New York State Executive Law livery bases that sent dispatches to livery drivers could not determine before a driver's injury whether they were required to purchase workers' compensation insurance for such driver. The livery driver and the Base litigated the issue of employer-employee relationship at the Workers' Compensation board for years before receiving a determination as to their entitlement to they benefits. Those drivers who were determined to be independent contractors received no compensation, even those that arise out of crimes.
This law addressed the above perennial problems. It created a process for livery bases to be designated as "independent," by attesting that they meet certain criteria typically looked to by the Workers' Compensation Board to determine that a livery base is not an employer. These criteria include allowing affiliated livery drivers to set their own hours and days of work, select their own clothing, and maintain their own cars. These independent livery bases must pay into a fund that will provide a limited workers' compensation benefit to independent livery drivers, to which such drivers would not be entitled to as independent contractors. In particular, such benefits will be provided in cases of death, injury from a crime involving a police report, the amputation or loss of an arm, leg, hand, foot, multiple fingers, index finger, multiple toes, ear, or nose; paraplegia or quadriplegia; or total and permanent blindness or deafness. These drivers would receive greater benefits then they would as independent contractors, while the bases would pay less than they would if deemed employers. In sum, the law reflects a tradeoff to address many of the problems that have beset the workers' compensation system in the livery industry. Bases receive certainty as to their obligations under the workers' compensation law. In exchange, they must pay into a fund to insure that severely injured drivers have adequate benefits under certain defined circumstances