As rapidly-growing rideshare and taxi-service company Uber attempts to establish itself in large metropolitan cities across the country, the company is currently dealing with some negative publicity after being named as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit after one of their drivers allegedly struck and killed a pedestrian last year.
News reports indicate that a six-year-old girl was killed after allegedly being hit by an Uber driver while she was crossing a street in downtown San Francisco on New Year’s Eve of 2013. According to The Seattle Times, the driver has since been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
The family of the six-year-old girl filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Uber in January of this year. The girl’s mother and brother were also seriously injured in the pedestrian crash, which suggests that they may also be pursuing their own personal injury claims against the company.
Uber has predictably tried to defend itself against being named as a defendant in the lawsuit, and claimed that although the driver was a “partner of Uber,” he was not providing services on the Uber system at the time of the collision.
Conflicting Claims from Both Sides of Lawsuit
But an attorney representing the Uber driver says that the driver was indeed logged into the Uber application at the time of the incident, and that he had just finished transporting one rider and was waiting for his next call.
As far as the outcome of the wrongful death lawsuit goes, perhaps the most critical piece of information here is whether or not the Uber driver was in fact actively working for Uber – that is, logged in and providing services for the company – at the time that the crash occurred. He claims he was, while the company claims he was not. In the end, it should be relatively easy for investigators to examine the appropriate time logs and determine an answer.
It should have been expected that Uber’s legal strategy would be to deny that the driver was working for them at the time of the incident, as that could potentially eliminate any chances of the company being held liable. The company has been facing a number of challenges in major cities throughout the country, and negative publicity such as this would obviously not make things any easier.