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Black Car Fund Announces New Driver Death Benefit

Tom Halligan
Posted on February 17, 2017

Black Car Fund Awards $50,000 Driver Death Benefit (left to right) Jim Conigliaro Jr., Ydanis Rodriguez, Shafqat Khan, (brother of Roohul Ameen), Farwah Ameen and Hadiyah Ameen (daughters of Roohul Ameen), Meera Joshi, I. Daneek Miller, Ira Goldstein, Diana Clemente, and Berj Haroutun.
Black Car Fund Awards $50,000 Driver Death Benefit (left to right) Jim Conigliaro Jr., Ydanis Rodriguez, Shafqat Khan, (brother of Roohul Ameen), Farwah Ameen and Hadiyah Ameen (daughters of Roohul Ameen), Meera Joshi, I. Daneek Miller, Ira Goldstein, Diana Clemente, and Berj Haroutun.
NEW YORK --- The Black Car Fund announced Feb. 14, a new death benefit for families of member drivers killed on the job. The death benefit, which is guaranteed at $50,000, ensures that families of deceased drivers will not also suffer financially.

The BCF made the announcement with the Ameen family after member driver Roohul Ameen was killed last June. 

Ameen was a driver for Big Apple, Inc. living in Bayshore on Long Island with his wife and four young children

In June, he was struck and killed while tending to his car on the side of the Long Island Expressway. At the recommendation of Ira Goldstein, the executive director of The Black Car Fund, the fund’s board of directors established the death benefit shortly after Ameen’s death to protect families of member drivers in the event of work related deaths. This new death benefit is in addition to any other death benefit member drivers’ families may receive under the workers compensation law.

“The Black Car Fund is fully committed to our drivers," Goldstein said. "While we are heartbroken over the loss of Ameen, we are pleased to offer this new, guaranteed death benefit to his family and all our members. Driving is high risk work which requires a supportive workforce model.”

Black car drivers are independent contractors who enjoy workers’ compensation and insurance coverage through the Black Car Fund. The Fund also pays drivers to attend wellness seminars and safety trainings to meet the highest professional standards, serving as a model in the new “gig economy.”

“The challenges of workers not having any benefits in the emerging gig economy makes today particularly meaningful, and makes me very proud to be a founding member of the Black Car Fund that developed a business model ahead of its time,” said Diana Clemente, President of Big Apple Car, Inc. “I along with my peers did it because our drivers are the backbones of our companies, our extended families, and when they suffer, we suffer too. I am honored and grateful that my industry peers saw fit to assist my former driver's family after his tragic accidental work related death.”

Shafqat Khan, the brother of Roohul Ameen, said, “I want to thank the Black Car Fund and Diane Clemente at Big Apple Car for being supportive and acting to relieve at least some of our suffering. This is the first time this is happening, and in the future, families can rest assured that they will not suffer financially on top of their human loss." 

“We recognize that black car drivers are working people who face high risk conditions daily,” said Berj Haroutunian, Chairman of the Black Car Fund. “They are always there for New Yorkers and we that’s why we must be there for them and their families when they need it most.”

“Once again, the Black Car Fund set an industry-wide example on how workers should be treated,” said City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights). “Driving is not the safest job, especially in a dense urban center, which is why I have been a leading proponent of Vision Zero's goals to end traffic fatalities for good. However, the harsh reality is that fatalities do occur; and in these tragic cases, drivers deserve the peace of mind that their families will be taken care of if they are taken from us too soon.”

“City drivers often provide central but dangerous services, and it is our responsibility to support them and their families so they are able to live the quality of life they deserve,” said Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D- St. Albans). “Unfortunately, tragedies such as these make it necessary this death benefit to exist and I applaud The Black Car Fund for establishing it and making it retroactive for these workers.” 

Black Car Fund Background

The New York Black Car Operators’ Injury Compensation Fund was created by statute (Chapter 49 of the laws of 1999) for the purpose of providing Workers' Compensation coverage to independent contractor Black Car operators in the state of New York. The statute was signed into law by Gov. George Pataki in May 1999. On Oct. 1, 1999, the billing, collecting and remitting portion of the statute took effect. On Jan. 20, 2000, workers’ compensation coverage for drivers affiliated with member bases took effect. In later years, the company adopted a shorter title, and while it still retains the same official title, is widely known as The Black Car Fund.

The statute covers all drivers of The Black Car Fund member bases in the state of New York, although 98% of the companies are based in the greater New York City metro area. Bases must become members of The Black Car Fund if they meet the criteria outlined in the statute, meaning they cannot own more than 50% their vehicles and must do a minimum of 90% of their business on a non-cash basis. Black Car and limousine companies operating outside of New York State are also required to become members of The Black Car Fund if they do work in the state of New York and if they meet the criteria outlined in the statute. The Fund derives its income from a 2.5% surcharge, which is billed and collected by member bases from their clients and then remitted to The Fund. 

Related Topics: Black Car Assistance Corp., black car market, employee benefits, ira goldstein, New York, New York City

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