Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Uber

William E. Johnson
February 28, 2014

Wrongful Death

On Jan. 27, the family of a young girl killed by a driver of the private transportation company Uber sued the company in California court. On New Year’s Eve, Sofia Liu, 6 years old, died after she and her family were hit by a car in a San Francisco cross-walk. The lawsuit claims that, at the time of the car accident, the driver of the vehicle was logged into the Uber smartphone app and was available to provide rides to users. 

Lawyers for the Lui family claim that the phone-based system that drivers use to find potential customers contributed to the death of Sofia, as well as injuries to her mother and 5-year-old brother. Because drivers must interact with the Uber application to locate and pick up riders, the suit claims, the application violated a California law that seeks to cut down on distracted driving. The statute say: “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”  

Common Carrier Principle
Specific to these types of lawsuits, cab companies have to meet something called the “common carrier” principle, which holds them to a higher standard in transporting passengers. This means that the companies have a duty to conduct background checks on their drivers and have a commercial insurance policy covering their vehicles. Uber does not meet this standard of a “taxi cab,” and requires drivers to buy their own commercial insurance. Many claim that this allows Uber to play on an unlevel playing field, and that the company is set up in a way to avoid liability. 
 
"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,” attorney Chris Dolan told the New York Times. “New technology does not eliminate well-established legal principles.”
 
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Whenever the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another person, an action may be maintained to recover damages suffered as a result of the death. Actions for wrongful death may arise in a variety of settings. These cases include car, truck or motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability and construction accidents. In Florida, the Wrongful Death Act creates a cause of action in the name of the personal representative of the estate of the decedent for the benefit of the "next of kin".
 
West Palm Beach Car Accident Attorney
As technology advances, so does the American public's obsession with using it at every hour of every day. Nowhere is this more apparent than the use of the cellphone while driving. When a person is behind the wheel, he or she should be concentrating on driving and nothing else. Still, people are constantly making phone calls, sending texts, getting directions or using other applications when they should be focused on the road ahead.
 
At the law firm of William E Johnson, PA we represent clients in serious car accident claims that result in severe injuries to the victims. Our experience in these matters has given us a clear understanding of the types of injuries victims can suffer and the level of medical care and treatment necessary to recover.
 
Contact our office to schedule a free consultation where you can speak with an attorney about the injuries you have suffered at the hands of a distracted driver. We will give you an honest assessment of your case and explain your legal options. You can reach us by phone at 561-832-4848 or you can contact us via e-mail.
 
William E. Johnson is a preeminent trial lawyer with an established practice in West Palm Beach to serve clients in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death. With offices based at CityPlace in the heart of West Palm Beach, Mr. Johnson serves those whose lives have been affected by personal injury or wrongful death throughout the state of Florida.

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