10 Updates
Will Death Suit Bring Über Big Liability For Uber?

Will Death Suit Bring Über Big Liability For Uber?

Jan 28 2014, 7:11am CST | by

America is a nation of laws and lawyers, yet the law often plays catch-up to technology. Although taxi companies complain of unfair competition, many cities and consumers react favorably to new...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

25 weeks ago

Will Death Suit Bring Über Big Liability For Uber?

Jan 28 2014, 7:11am CST | by

America is a nation of laws and lawyers, yet the law often plays catch-up to technology. Although taxi companies complain of unfair competition, many cities and consumers react favorably to new smartphone ride-sharing choices Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. But if you are in an accident, you may not be so pleased, particularly if the liability is big and beyond the driver’s insurance limits.

Uber fans and foes alike know of the tragic death of a 6-year-old girl on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco. Sofia Liu was struck while walking across the street with her family. Several family members were injured too. The driver, Syed Muzzafar , faces charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield.

Now, a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Uber. The suit claims that Uber is responsible for Sofia Liu’s death, saying that Mr. Muzzafar was on Uber’s app at the time of the accident. Uber says it isn’t responsible and notes that Mr. Muzzafar was not carrying a passenger at the time of the accident. See Statement on New Year’s Eve Accident .

Less serious lawsuits have ensnared Uber, Lyft or Sidecar. For example, in one lawsuit , Uber was sued along with the driver, Djamol Gafurov, whose insurance policy has a $750,000 limit. But the new suit is the first wrongful death case and the first involving big damages.

One of the direct liability issues is the vetting process the company uses with drivers. That is a type of direct liability about Uber’s own actions. Another is the extent to which drivers can import agency liability of the type that makes companies liable for the acts of employees.

The companies claim they merely take a fee for putting passengers and drivers together. The drivers have their own insurance, but a serious or fatal accident can involve millions in damages, far exceeding most driver insurance policies. Some say the Communications Decency Act prevents liability because these companies are information content providers.

But it is not far-fetched to imagine verdicts for injured plaintiffs. A close parallel can be found in suits involving independent contractors like many taxi and delivery drivers. If a taxi injuries someone, despite the “taxi leased to driver” on the door, the plaintiff is likely to sue the driver and the cab company.

Arguing that the independent contractor arrangement is a sham, the plaintiff may prevail. The same happens with newspaper carriers and other deliveries, including pizza. In Texas, Domino’s Pizza is appealing a $32M Verdict against it relating to a delivery driver who killed a 65 year-old woman.

The driver was liable, as was the independent Domino’s franchise store that sold the pizza. But the jury found Domino’s company (technically, the franchisor) liable too. One reason was because the driver was speeding to meet Domino’s corporate 30-minute delivery policy.

Interestingly, the wrongful death suit against Uber claims that drivers must respond quickly, and suggests this rule encourages carelessness. The policy may not be as concrete as Domino’s 30-minute guarantee, but it still could have a legal impact. Of course, the entire business model of Uber, Lyft and Sidecar is in its infancy. The courts may say they are simply not responsible.

However, one might look for parallels in the Domino’s case, as well as in taxicab and newspaper delivery cases from around the country. Legal issues aside, it seems likely that the cases will turn on their facts. The contracts and the actual course of conduct of the parties are likely to count, as should the status of the injured person.

After all, it may be one thing for a passenger in an Uber car to sue if he or she is injured. One might argue that an Uber passenger assumes the risk of ride sharing by signing on. But what about a pedestrian hit in a crosswalk? The pedestrian hasn’t agreed to any kind of arrangement with Uber.

There are taxicab, limo and package delivery cases that raise such issues. Admittedly, though, most involve the age-old line between independent contractors and employees. That line is pivotal on the agency liability a company faces when an employee (but not an independent contractor) acts up.

It is too soon to say how the Uber, Sidecar and Lyft liabilities will be sorted out. In the short term, though, as multiple cases work through multiple courts, the answer may not be a bright or consistent line.

You can reach me at Wood@WoodLLP.com . This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by robb ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hisha ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states last month. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an all ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar Scheme ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billio ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Bangladeshi plane catches fire at Nepal airport, passengers safe
Kathmandu, July 28 (IANS) A Bangladeshi aircraft caught fire while landing at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) Monday afternoon, officials said.
 
 
Shift work can worsen asthma, pneumonia
London, July 28 (IANS) A research has found that drugs widely used to treat lung diseases like asthma or pneumonia work better with the body clock.
 
 
Decoded: What triggers sexual arousal in you
New York, July 28 (IANS) Know why just looking at an attractive face stimulates sexual arousal? Well, it takes two to tango!
 
 
Turn your selfie into emoji with this app
New York, July 28 (IANS) Tired of seeing the same yellow-faced smileys? In an age of selfies, how can emojis be far behind?
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Scoreboard: India vs England, day 2, third Test
Southampton, July 29 (IANS) The following is the scoreboard after the second day's play of the third cricket Test between India and England at the Rose Bowl here Monday: England (first innings, overnight 247/2)...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
UN call neglects Israel's security needs: Netanyahu
Jerusalem, July 29 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday criticised the UN Security Council's call for ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, saying it strengthens Hamas and neglects Israel's security needs....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Three dead, 16 injured in Nigerian suicide attacks
Abuja, July 29 (IANS) At least three people were killed and 16 others injured in two suicide bombings Monday in northern Nigeria's Kano state, officials said. In the first incident, a female suicide bomber attacked a...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
31 killed in Iraq violence
Baghdad, July 28 (IANS) At least 31 people were killed and 20 others wounded in the latest violent attacks and conflicts in Iraq, police source said Monday. Police patrols Monday found 14 unidentified bodies - 11 men...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Narang clinches men's 50m rifle prone silver
Glasgow, July 28 (IANS) Indian shooters continued to bring home more medals as Gagan Narang won the country's third medal Monday clinching the men's 50-metre rifle prone silver in the finals at the Commonwealth Games...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Renew humanitarian truce in Gaza: UN chief
United Nations, July 28 (IANS) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday urged Israel and te Islamist Hamas movement to renew a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and called on those responsible to "step back from provoking...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Indian paddlers lose men's team bronze playoff
Glasgow, July 28 (IANS) India's men paddlers suffered a disappointing finish in the team bronze medal playoff, losing to Nigeria 1-3 at the Commonwealth Games here Monday. India, who had won the bronze in the same...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ousted Thai PM faces power-abuse allegation
Bangkok, July 28 (IANS) Thailand's Election Commission (EC) is accusing former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra of abusing power by using public funds to campaign for elections, local media reported Monday. EC...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
CWG: Ghosal, Anaka lose in squash
Glasgow, July 28 (IANS) Indian squash players Saurav Ghosal and Anaka Alankamony bit the dust Monday bringing to an end their individual campaigns in squash singles at the Commonwealth Games here. While Ghosal lost...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
England 452/5 at tea
Southampton, July 28 (IANS) England were batting at 452/5 at tea on Day 2 of the third cricket Test against India at the Rose Bowl here Monday. Ian Bell and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler were batting on 133 and 13...
Read more on Sport Balla