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Benefits denied to taxi driver who lost use of legs in shooting


The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that a taxi driver was not entitled to workers compensation benefits after he was rendered paraplegic from being shot in the back.

Daoud Oufafa worked under an agreement with Taxi 7 that he would make a weekly lease and vehicle insurance payments in exchange for the company providing a fully equipped cab, dispatch services and credit card processing services, and its branding, according to documents in AIG v. Oufafa, filed Dec. 10 in Frankfort, Kentucky.

The agreement also allowed Mr. Oufafa to sublease the cab and related services with Taxi 7's approval. He also received a document is titled "Status as a Self-Employed Businessperson." It stated that by signing, Mr. Oufafa acknowledged there was no employer-employee, principal-agent or master-servant relationship, either expressed or implied, between him and Taxi 7, according to documents.

Mr. Oufafa signed the documents and included a written statement that "I am self-employed for all purposes, including workers compensation and unemployment. Whether or not I drive the rented TAXICAB, I am not an employee of company."

In 2018, he was shot in the back while driving passengers in his and was left paralyzed from the waist down. He filed a workers’ compensation claim, alleging that he had been injured in the course and scope of his employment for Taxi 7. The claim was denied.

An administrative law judge later determined that Mr. Oufafa was an independent contractor, dismissing the claim. The Workers' Compensation Board later ruled that the ALJ incorrectly concluded that Taxi 7 was a cab leasing company rather than a cab company and that this "tainted the entirety of his analysis."

The Kentucky Court of Appeals disagreed with the board’s conclusion, stating that the record allowed the court to analyze the level of control Taxi 7 had over him in relation to the company’s regular business.

The court explained that the right to control a worker is a key factor in determining whether an employment relationship exists, and the ALJ found this factor weighed in favor of finding that Mr. Oufafa was an independent contractor since Taxi 7 did not have the right to control his everyday work and did not do so.

WorkCompCentral is a sister publication of Business Insurance. More stories here.






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