A new ride-sharing service called Uber is facing civil action after a driver allegedly struck and killed a child on the West Coast. Uber does not yet have a presence in Louisiana, according to the company’s Web site. A wrongful death suit has been filed in the matter. This could force the company, which has enjoyed a nebulous existence because of regulatory shortcomings, to properly define its business activities.
This case is not only high-profile but also rather delicate. Uber allows drivers to provide rides for others in a metro area for profit. The driver in this case was logged into an app that listed the vehicle as ‘available’ at the time of the crash. The vehicle was not carrying a passenger. Uber thus argues that it is not responsible for the death because the vehicle was being used for private transportation.
Now, the courts will decide just how far liability extends for Uber. The company argues that it is just an information platform and does not actually provide a driving service. This suit could ultimately define liability for all private drivers who shuttle others from place to place for pay.
The suit also argues that the company violates laws in California because it requires driving while using a communications device.
Uber is providing a novel business model that could land them in hot water because of a fatal car crash. The relatives of the young victim deserve financial compensation from the responsible parties who caused the fatal accident. Courts are on their way to deciding exactly who is responsible in cases involving Uber and other paid ride-sharing services.
Source: The Atlantic Cities, “The Wrongful Death Suit That Could Finally Define Uber” Emily Badger, Jan. 27, 2014