On-Demand Car Service Sued for Wrongful Death
Family of 6-year-old girl sues car service for driver’s negligence
At about 8 o’clock on New Year’s Eve, six-year-old Sofia Liu, her brother, and their mother were struck by a car while crossing the street in downtown San Francisco. Sofia was killed and her mother and brother both suffered serious injuries, including mental trauma and suffering caused by their witnessing of this little girl’s wrongful death.
Sofia Liu’s family has filed a lawsuit in order to pursue damages for their injuries and suffering. What makes this lawsuit different from a typical auto accident injury case is that the defendant is a company rather than an individual. The case has brought up some interesting legal points that may have far-reaching effects on how car service drivers are treated under California law.
When is a Company Driver “On the Clock”?
The first question to be considered in the case is what it means for a driver to be on the clock. The car that struck and killed Sofia Liu was driven by Syed Muzzafar, a service provider for the popular on-demand car service Uber. Uber has claimed that because Muzzafar was not actually carrying a passenger at the time of the accident, he was not providing services for the company and therefore was acting on his own. In other words, their claim is that without a fare, their drivers’ cars are personal vehicles, not Uber cars. The Liu family’s attorney has challenged this idea on the grounds that because Muzzafar was logged into the Uber system and awaiting a fare, he was in essence on the clock for Uber at the time of the accident.
Is Uber’s Whole Business Model Negligent?
Another aspect of this wrongful death suit goes far beyond the individual driver error that caused Sofia Liu’s death, alleging that Uber was negligent in the “development, implementation, and use of the app” that drivers use to connect with their fares. The basis for this allegation is that California law forbids the use of any wireless telephone device while driving, unless that device is hands-free. The app which Uber uses to direct customer calls to drivers is not hands free, essentially guaranteeing that drivers will be distracted from the road while using it. Therefore, Uber should be held responsible for any injuries or damages caused by those distracted drivers. Uber currently has operations in over 50 cities and 20 different countries, and it is not yet clear if their app is in violation of hands-free laws in other areas.
Get Help with Claims Against Company Drivers
If you have been involved in an accident caused by an employee of a driving service, delivery service, etc., you need to get help from an expert auto attorney right away. These types of cases can be complex, but a skilled attorney will make sure you are able to seek compensation from any and all parties who can be held liable for your accident.