Sofia Liu, 6, was was struck and killed by a car in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve. Christopher Dolan, a lawyer for the Liu family who provided the image, is expected to file suit against the driver of the vehicle and Uber.
Taxes and regulation are the two big issues. The question of how much Uber should be regulated and by whom is under discussion in all sorts of ways, as my article on Monday in The Times indicates. But the fate of its first wrongful-death lawsuit might be central.
The suit, set to be filed on Monday, seeks damages against Uber in the death of Sofia Liu, 6, on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco. Sofia was hit by an Uber driver who was waiting for a fare. Her mother and brother were injured.
Uber asserts that Uber drivers without fares are not Uber cars. The suit, filed by Chris Dolan, a San Francisco lawyer, directly challenges this effort by the company to detach itself from its own users. It says Uber needs the vehicles to be logged into the Uber app — that’s the only way potential riders know there is a car in the vicinity. So even when there is no fare in the car, the drivers are in essence on the clock, working for Uber.
When drivers accept a call, furthermore, they need to interface with the app. The suit goes on to note that under California law, it is illegal to use a “wireless telephone” while driving unless it is specifically configured to be hands-free — which the app is not. In essence, the suit argues that Uber was negligent in the “development, implementation and use of the app” so as to cause the driver to be distracted and inattentive.
Mr. Kalanick (Uber's founder), in an interview, refused to discuss the case or even to confirm that the driver, Syed Muzaffar, had been carrying passengers earlier that evening. Mr. Muzaffar, who cooperated with the police after the accident, had been driving for Uber about a month, his lawyer said. It was a full-time job, using his own car, to support four kids. In the new sharing economy, he takes the fall.
Mr. Dolan, according to his website, has a fistful of awards: Statewide Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California, Trial Lawyer of the Year by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award.
“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,” he said:
“New technology does not eliminate well-established legal principles.”
Source: New York Times.
Taxi leaks would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Sophie Liu.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: SO, WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT IN LONDON?
It's alleged that Uber are providing private hire vehicles passengers, without the final destination being known to the company at the time of booking.
It is also claimed, Uber is charging fares based on time and distance, in the same way a London black cab taximeter calculates journeys and tariffs.
It is further alleged that Uber do not have a London operational centre where records of drivers and all journeys made are kept. A fundamentals requirement in obtaining a PH operators licence.
If these allegations are true, Uber would be in direct contravention of the Private Hire Act 1998.
When a fixed price hasn't been agreed in advance, Uber calculate by time and distance. Their website gives the base rate charged as £3 UberX, £4 Uber EXEC and £5 UberLUX.
Depending on the service you want, you are billed from one end of the scale from:
£0.32 per minute below 11mph and £1.75 per mile above 11mph on UberX
Up to £0.72 per minute, below 11 mph to £4 per mile about 11mph at the other end of their scale on UberLUX.
In 2012, TfL licensed Uber to operate in London despite the fact they are banned in many cities around the world. TfL admit, they are currently investigating the legality of Uber operation, but even so, have granted them a licence in advance of the outcome of their investigation.
Meanwhile hard working Taxi drivers, with many years previous exemplary service and spotless clean criminal records, are being denied the right to work. Sir Peter who personally earned over £650,000 last year, is refusing to issue temporary licences while drivers wait for renewals which are at present being held up by poor administration. Some drivers have been unable to work for months.
So, that's one law for us, "guilty" until proved innocent
and a different law for PH operators.
Hendy's personal decision, makes TfL, the only licensing authority in the country not issuing temporary licenses while drivers await renewals.
And yet, Hendy was only too pleased to issue Uber with an operators licence, when it launched in London in 2012,
Is TfL too afraid to take on Uber?