Uber Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

Famous Internet Car-Sharing Service Uber Goes to Court in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

UberIn San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, a family was struck by an Uber driver while crossing a crosswalk – the mother and brother were injured, while a 6-year-old was killed. On Monday, January 27th, the little girl’s family will file a wrongful death lawsuit against Uber, not just the driver, in Superior Court in California.

The case could define responsibility in the “sharing economy,” dominated by websites and mobile phone apps that act like vendors for “self-employed” drivers, room-renters, and other services.

Uber hires drivers under contract to act like a taxi service for as many hours a week as the driver wishes to be available. However, the drivers are not, strictly speaking, employees of the company, but independent contractors – therefore, responsibility for personal injury or wrongful death cases could shift to the individual and not the company.

The family’s attorney, Chris Dolan, argues that in this case Uber is liable in the wrongful death case, in part because the company makes some money from their drivers’ fares, and also because California law states that using phones or devices while driving is illegal unless the device is set up to be hands-free. Uber, which is based in Silicon Valley and therefore falls under California law, has put its drivers in the position of breaking the law, because the mobile app is not set up to be used hands-free.

“Uber shares in the profits of its drivers and must share in the responsibility for the harms they cause,” said Dolan in a prepared statement. “The use of the Uber app by drivers violates California laws designed to eliminate driver distraction. Drivers are constantly interacting with their mobile devices creating serious risk to both passengers and the community … Uber’s claims that they are not responsible for injuries caused by Uber drivers who are logged on to the system but not carrying a fare flies in the face of hundreds of years of law. New technology does not eliminate well-established legal principles.”

Sophia Liu, 6, was the victim of driver Syed Muzzafar, 57, on New Year’s Eve. Muzzafar was arrested following the child’s death on charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield to pedestrians in a cross walk. He reportedly cooperated in full with police investigators, and later posted bail. Muzzafar worked full-time as an Uber driver, supporting four children on his income.

The family’s wrongful death lawsuit states:

“[Uber] derive[s] an economic benefit from not only having USERS transported by DRIVERS collecting a portion of the charge for transportation, it derives an economic benefit, and competitive advantage, by displaying the location of available vehicles near the USER’s location. USERS seeing the ready supply of UBER and/or Uber X vehicles have greater consumer confidence that they will be able to obtain one-to-one prearranged transportation services rapidly and are therefore more likely to be repeat customers… Therefore, regardless of whether a DRIVER actually has a USER in their car, is on the way to a USER who has engaged the DRIVER through the APP, or simply is logged on to the APP as an available DRIVER, UBER… derives an economic benefit from having DRIVERS registered on the service.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Wrongful Death Cases

Although many of the people we represent in these cases are from right here in South Carolina, our lawyers routinely take clients from throughout the Southeastern U.S. and, in certain types of product liability or pharmaceutical cases, from across the country as well. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, you may have a wrongful death case. Contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

Charleston Reps File Motorcycle Helmet Safety Legislation

helmet

Three State Reps Have Filed New Legislation to Require Helmets for Motorcycle Safety

helmetThree state representatives have filed new legislation to require helmets for motorcycle drivers and passengers in response to a recent spike in motorcycle accident deaths.

On Wednesday, January 14th, Reps. Wendell Gilliard, Carl Anderson, and J. Seth Whipper, from Charleston, filed House Bill 4500, which proposes a helmet requirement for motorcyclists in the Palmetto State.

“This is about saving lives,” said Gilliard on Thursday, January 15th. “I feel like that’s one of the things I was sworn to do.”

Fatal motorcycle accidents have gone up in South Carolina since 2010. That year, there were a reported 81 deaths in motorcycle accidents. In 2012, that number rose to 110, and last year it reached 121.

Part of the reason for the spike, according to Gilliard, has to do with the state’s growing population. When previous motorcycle safety legislation was passed, he says, there was not as much business and not as much traffic. South Carolina requires those under 21 to wear motorcycle helmets, but that measure alone is not enough to promote better safety.

“The only way to be safe is to wear a helmet,” he said. “It’s better to be safe, to be proactive, than to be sorry.”

However, similar legislation has been filed before and it never left committee. In 2012, former Senator Ralph Anderson, from Greenville, filed a similar bill but it never went out of committee for a vote. Governor Nikki Haley also threatened to veto the bill, provided it was voted into law by the Senate and House.

A biker’s rights group called ABATE has also learned about the potential new legislation and asked its members to voice their opinion about mandatory helmet laws.

“We believe there’s a freedom of choice that motorcyclists across the state should be able to choose,” said Chad Fuller, an attorney and spokesman for the group. “We don’t advocate not wearing a helmet. We don’t believe that helmets save lives. Education saves lives.”

Lowcountry Harley-Davidson also released a statement about the motorcycle safety legislation:

“While we encourage motorcyclists to wear protective gear while riding, the Harley-Davidson brand is built on freedom. We believe that the individual rider should have the freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet or not.”

Motorcycle Accident Injuries and Fatalities

A motorcycle accident typically involves serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries to the driver.  Many times, these accidents are the result of careless conduct by individuals driving automobiles and other larger motor vehicles.

The amount of compensation that a person injured or killed in a motorcycle accident receives depends upon several facts, including the financial losses, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life.

The Strom Law Firm Accident Attorneys Can Help with Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits

The Strom Law Firm’s South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys will carefully analyze all aspects of the sequence of events, road conditions, and mechanical factors which led to the collision. If you have suffered a serious personal injury, or the wrongful death of a loved one due to another person’s negligence, call The Strom Law Firm, LLC at 803.252.4800 or contact us in Columbia, South Carolina, for a free consultation.

Three People Killed in DUI Car Accident in Fairfield

DUI Car Accident

Third Victim of DUI Car Accident in Fairfield Dies in Hospital

DUI Car AccidentThe third person involved in a terrible DUI car accident on Thursday, January 23rd, has died in the hospital.

According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the car accident occurred around 2:30 AM in Fairfield County, near Winnsboro, SC. A vehicle going the wrong way on the interstate crashed into a second vehicle, instantly killing two people at the scene.

The DUI car accident is still under investigation, but initial reports suggest that Takeya Taylor, 28, was traveling north in the southbound lane of I-77 in her 2004 Mitsubishi. Taylor turned 28 on Thursday, and her autopsy suggests that she had been drinking prior to getting into her car.

At about 2:35 AM, Taylor’s vehicle collided with a 2012 Hyundai driven by 48-year-old Lisa Denise Jefferson. According to Fairfield County Coroner Barkley Ramsay, both Taylor and Jefferson died at the scene.

Jefferson had two passengers in her vehicle, who were both hospitalized after the crash. Edward Singleton, 51, survived and his injuries are reported to be non-life-threatening. The other passenger, Wallace Green, 46, died at Palmetto Richland Hospital around 9 AM on Thursday morning.

The investigation into the circumstances around the DUI car accident is ongoing.

Car Accident and Wrongful Death Litigation in South Carolina

car accident can transform a routine drive into a life-changing catastrophe. Every year, thousands of drivers end up in a South Carolina car wreck, and on average about 800 of them will lose their lives.

Typical causes of car accidents include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, automobile defect, failed maintenance, failing to be careful, speeding, running stops signs or stop lights, failing to yield the right of way, not paying attention because of using cell phone or PDA, adjusting radio or DVD player, or eating while driving.

If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members may be entitled to damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one. Common wrongful death claims arise as a result of a:

A South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for:

  • medical bills and funeral expenses
  • loss of income
  • loss of consortium and loss of support.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Car Accident Injury and Wrongful Death Cases

Although many of the people we represent in these cases are from right here in South Carolina, our lawyers routinely take clients from throughout the Southeastern U.S. and, in certain types of product liability or pharmaceutical cases, from across the country as well. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, whether from a defective product or in a car accident, you may have a wrongful death caseContact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

Greenville’s Distracted Driving Ban Gets Mixed Reviews

distracted driving ban

Public Responds to Greenville’s Proposed Distracted Driving Ban

distracted driving banIn December, the city of Greenville, SC proposed a distracted driving ban, focusing particularly on the use of cell phones and other handheld devices in cars.

The proposed bans includes exceptions for emergencies, and for first responders while on the job. It also allows the use of hands-free devices, such as blue tooth headsets and GPS devices.

“This is going to be a major adjustment to the way we live our lives.  Unfortunately at this point, whether we are in the car or not, people are almost addicted to their cellphones these days.” said Greenville Mayor Pro Tem David Sudduth.

On Monday, January 13th, the city held a public meeting about the distracted driving ban. Many spoke in favor of the distracted driving ban.

“I think it’s a good idea.  People are always wrecking or not paying attention.  Someone almost hit me earlier talking on the phone,” said Marilyn Harden at the public hearing.

“I lost a niece two months ago to texting and driving and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else,” one woman said anonymously.

Others pointed out that distracted driving is not just about cell phones or GPS devices.

“What about eating, drinking, smoking, putting lipstick on, looking at maps and even having children in the car?  Children can be very distracting,” said a man.

In addition to the public meeting, the Chamber of Commerce posted a link on their social media outlets to a survey to allow the public to express their opinion. City Council Member Amy Ryberg Doyle also reminded the public that they can email or call city council members to express their opinion about the distracted driving ban.

The council will review the input from the public, and if the proposed distracted driving ban goes before the council, the public will have two further opportunities to provide input.

Distracted Driving in South Carolina

Distracted driving includes:

  • talking on a cell phone
  • eating and drinking
  • talking to passengers
  • grooming or putting on makeup
  • reading books, newspapers, or even a map
  • using a PDA or navigation system
  • watching a video or playing on a computer or tablet
  • playing with the radio, a CD or an iPod

It’s a common occurrence to see distracted drivers cruising down South Carolina roads and interstates.  Whether the distraction is eating, putting on makeup, talking on a cellphone, or even just daydreaming, the effects of distracted driving can lead to an accident, resulting in life altering and even deadly consequences.

The statistics on distracted driving nationwide are staggering:

  • 20 percent of crashes which resulted in an injury involved a report of distracted driving
  • of the deaths in distracted related driving accidents, 995 involved a report that the driver was using a cell phone
  • in 2009, 5,474 people were killed on US roadways and an estimated additional 448, 000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted driving

The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers involved the under 20 age group

Drivers who use hand held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves using a cell phone while driving, whether its hand held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a BAC of .08, the legal limit!

The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.

Request for New Wrongful Death Trial for Michael Jackson Denied

wrongful death trial

Jackson Family’s Request for New Wrongful Death Trial on Behalf of Michael Jackson Denied by Judge

wrongful death trialLos Angeles County Judge Yvette Palazuelos, who presided over Michael Jackson’s wrongful death trial last year, has denied a request from the Jackson family to have a new trial.

The 2013 wrongful death trial lasted for 6 months and ended in October when Judge Palazuelos ruled in favor of AEG Live, the concert promoter that hired Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, who was convicted on manslaughter charges in 2011 and released from prison in October 2013.

The Jackson family sought to hold AEG Live responsible liable for Murray’s medical malpractice. Murray claimed before that Michael Jackson was a drug addict. Murray also said that he prescribed the surgical anesthetic propofol to treat Jackson’s insomnia, which Jackson overdosed on while on tour in 2009.

Attorneys for Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson’s mother, argued that the jury’s verdict form was faulty, leading to a faulty ruling. They also argued that the judge erred by refusing to let them pursue a negligence case in addition to the hiring case. They gathered testaments from four of the twelve jurors saying they were “stunned,” “upset” and “shocked” when asked to stop deliberations after a majority agreed that the answer to the question “Was Dr. Conrad Murray unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired?” was “no.”

“After sitting through almost six months of the trial in this case, I believed that Mrs. Jackson had proven her case against AEG LIve,” one of the jurors said in a statement. “Despite this fact, I had no way of voting in favor of the plaintiffs because of the way that the verdict form was worded.”

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina

The unexpected loss of a loved is a very painful experience.  While mourning their loss, surviving family members are often with mounting medical bills, the loss of an income, and sudden expenses such as hospital bills and funeral costs. If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members may be entitled to damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one. Common wrongful death claims arise as a result of a:

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Wrongful Death Cases

Although many of the people we represent in these cases are from right here in South Carolina, our lawyers routinely take clients from throughout the Southeastern U.S. and, in certain types of product liability or pharmaceutical cases, from across the country as well. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, you may have a wrongful death case. Contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

6 Sued for Wrongful Death After 2010 Fatal Tailgating Accident

Family Sues Tailgating Party Organizers in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

tailgatingThe family of a man killed after a fight in the post-football game traffic rush at Williams-Bryce Stadium in 2010 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the people who organized the tailgating party that led to the drunken brawl.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the family of Martin Gasque, who was hit by a truck and killed after a football game in 2010, raises questions about who is ultimately responsible for the behavior that can lead to manslaughter accidents.

“We think this lawsuit is primarily focused on the responsibility owed to the public surrounding the partying and drinking atmosphere, particularly at USC football games, when there is a virtual nonstop party for hours and hours in various parking spaces leading up to a big game,” attorney Doug Jennings of Bennettsville said in an interview.

Although tailgating parties are not regulated under state law, bars are often held legally responsible for their customers’ levels of intoxication. If a bar serves too much alcohol to a customer and that person then leaves and causes a fatal accident, the bar can legally be held responsible.

The Gasque family’s wrongful death lawsuit names six defendants – the people who organized the tailgating party, and the owners of the area where the party took place.

Curtis Simms has already been convicted of criminal charges relating to Gasque’s death, because he started the fight that placed Gasque in front of the truck. Simms was convicted in February 2013 and is currently serving 5 years in prison.

During Simms’s criminal trial, evidence suggested that both had been drinking liberally in the hours leading up to the fatal fight. While neither actually attended the football game, they were at the stadium. Simms was a fan of Alabama, who lost to USC, and Gasque was a USC fanatic. Their brief fight led to Simms punching Gasque in the face, causing him to fall into the path of a truck that ran him over, leading to his death. Evidence from Gasque’s autopsy showed that his blood alcohol content was 0.23 at the time of his death, and Simms admitted to drinking several beers and Jell-O shots before the fight with Gasque.

The named defendants all deny their responsibility for Gasque’s and Simms’s drunken behavior, except for Simms himself, who has not answered the wrongful death lawsuit yet.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Wrongful Death Cases

Although many of the people we represent in these cases are from right here in South Carolina, our lawyers routinely take clients from throughout the Southeastern U.S. and, in certain types of product liability or pharmaceutical cases, from across the country as well. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, you may have a wrongful death case. Contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800