Uber Files Defense In New Years Eve Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Uber, a mobile app that hires drivers and connects the drivers to customers who need a ride, became a codefendant in a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the company encouraged a driver to use the app and become distracted, leading him to accidentally kill a young girl on New Year’s Day in San Francisco.
In 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. 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.
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.
On May 1st, Uber officially filed their defense, alleging that the driver – Syed Muzzafar – was not technically a driver and not logged into the app to pick up a fare at the time of the accident.
“Uber and its affiliated companies sympathize with the Liu family and understand their desire for redress for their loss and their injuries,” attorneys said in a response to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family in San Francisco Superior Court. “However, the companies did not cause this tragic accident.”
Uber’s response, filed Thursday, said Muzaffar was “never an employee, agent, joint venture or partner of Uber.”
“The only information displayed on the screen was a GPS-generated map with his location – akin to the information displayed by a smartphone map application,” the defense statement continued.
“Uber shares in the profits of its drivers and must share in the responsibility for the harms they cause,” the family’s attorney, Chris Dolan, said 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.”
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