Uber Sued After Driver Kills 6-Year-Old
California suit cites distracted-driving rules
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jan 28, 2014 9:01 AM CST
Uber is facing a lawsuit after a driver killed a 6-year-old pedestrian.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Driving service Uber now operates in 60 cities and is worth $4 billion, the Boston Globe reports. But the company is under scrutiny for more reasons than one, including this big one: A driver hit a 6-year-old girl on New Year's Eve, killing her, and a lawsuit was filed yesterday. It names the driver as well as the company, and says the app-based service is breaking California laws against distracted driving. According to the filing, driver Syed Muzzafar, 57, was using the UberX app to find his next customer when he hit Sofia Liu; the girl's mother and brother were also hurt.

Uber drivers "must respond quickly to a user request for service by physically interfacing with the app, thereby leading to distraction," the suit says. State law requires hands-free devices, but an Uber driver can't grab a fare without pressing the screen at least once. The family's lawyer also says that Uber failed to provide insurance to cover the scenario: Muzzafar had no fare in his car when he hit Sofia; state rules call for insurance to cover drivers while on trips for Uber, says an expert, but it's less clear about insurance for drivers between passengers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Uber says that since Muzzafar didn't have a passenger, Uber has no culpability in the matter; his lawyer maintains the opposite. "He was waiting for a fare. He was working for Uber." Police arrested Muzzafar on suspicion of manslaughter, but he hasn't been charged.

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Showing 3 of 28 comments
Jack Slap
Feb 5, 2014 10:19 PM CST
Jack Slap is a ficticious & alias name By, Felix Jerry Droz P.O. Box 941 Summerland, Ca. 93067
Jack Slap
Feb 5, 2014 9:40 PM CST
Hire Car System = Not Safe - By law it is illegal - Shut Uber down Jack Slap is an alias and is not my real name By, Felix Jerry Droz P.O. Box 941 Summerland, Ca. 93067 I drove for Uber for slightly under two months and found, Uber is dangerous for public safety and should be shut down. Here's why. THE SYSTEM: You must tap a small icon(s) on the Uber device/phone to accept, cancel, confirm arrival, and more which takes your eyes completely off of the road. All it takes is those few seconds of inattention which easily could cause accidents resulting in death or injuries . CANCELLING and DRIVING: If you cancel a fare you must answer why you are cancelling via six little icons and that is another distraction. This is frequently done while driving, thus diverting your eyes from the traffic ahead of you. You are oblivious to traffic for those few seconds your looking at your Uber ( first you’ll have to find it because it may of fallen on the floorboard ) device which can easily cause accidents resulting in death or injuries . Even if you, yourself cancels the fare you must proceed with why you are cancelling to the little green icons on your Uber device and doing so is another distraction, period . Frequently while going to the client(s) pick up location ..………. the client cancels the fare for one reason or another . I received the cancellation notice always at night while I was driving and while I was driving my eyes were taken off the road so I could respond to the beeping sound coming from my Uber device . This beeping sound indicates that the client has cancelled the fare . While driving and getting close to the pickup location you are required to notify the client by again locating your Uber device taking your eyes off of the road and while driving, tapping on the “arriving “ icon. First, locating then tapping your device particularly while driving can be more dangerous then texting . Furthermore, there is no time limit to driving. Unlike, San Francisco taxi drivers, who are limited to a 10-hour driving period, an Uber driver can drive for 20 hours straight or more. The result is fatigue, which could lead to confusion, falling asleep, hallucinations, dozing off, and considerably more inattentiveness, all of which can cause accidents. GOOD RATINGS TRUMP SAFETY: Uber drivers are rated after each fare by passenger(s) from one to five, and if your rating drops too low or below 4.6, you are blocked from driving. This causes drivers to do unlawful things in order to maintain a high rating or they will lose their driving privileges. Among those things are dropping passengers off wherever they request, even if it impedes traffic or causes you to stop abruptly . If you don't, in most all cases you will receive a low rating by your customer . DANGEROUS : Being an Uber driver means that you will be subjected to doing unlawful things such as taking eight passengers in your car when there are only four seatbelts. In my case, I got a call to take nine passengers out to, Isla Vista all in my mini van. The weight from ten ( including myself ) would have been dangerous because not only can it make my van harder to handle but the weight itself is enough to cause my tires to rub against the wheel wells of my van creating sparks from stones trapped in the threading which could ignite my fuel tank leading to an explosion killing all passengers that are trapped in my mini van .Because I only took five passengers & not nine the customers were upset and gave me a “ one “ rating . In an attempt to be reinstated after I was blocked I explained what happened numerous times via emails to my Santa Barbara representatives but I received absolutely no response concluding to me being blocked for obeying the law and what was a safety concern so the rating system actually forces Uber drivers to perform unlawfully dangerous things to maintain a high rating . VEHICLE ISSUES: No vehicle inspections are required of Uber drivers, meaning that if your car’s brakes are failing or wipers not working, it’s still okay to drive in the rain. Does Uber care that your car is subpar? Probably not. Uber just wants its 20 percent share of your fare and will just claim you’re an independent driver if your involved in an accident and your insurer will deny the claim because you were using the car commercially . INSURANCE : Insurance companies view driving for Uber as a commercial use and it is illegal to use your vehicle commercially unless you get commercial registration, license plates and commercial insurance. Most Uber drivers do not get commercial plates,registration or the proper insurances, so for many, driving commercially for Uber is technically illegal. Not getting commercial plates, registration and insurance means the loss of millions of dollars for California. Syed Muzzafar , an Uber driver in San Francisco, killed a little girl, Sofia Liu, age 6, on New Year's Eve. We don’t know what really happened, but here’s a guy working for pennies on the dollar who managed to make his $300,000 bail for manslaughter. My guess is that Google, which invested $258 million in Uber last August, bailed him out as "hush" money because they don't want him talking and that he'll be represented by Google's attorneys, the finest money can buy, all the while he keeps his mouth shut. California needs to set precedence for our great state and nation by stopping Uber before another tragedy and more children lives are taken .
Ezekiel 25:17
Jan 30, 2014 11:39 PM CST
Uber is much nicer than your usual city cab service. In my town you could be riding in a long retired police cruiser in a Yellow Cab. The driver has one phone call going on and in bigger towns, they have one going on in each ear. Uber is less likely to pad the bill like they do in bigger cities. Las Vegas is legendary for over charging patrons to the tune of millions per year. But sadly, Uber isn't there yet because Vegas has a very aggressive cab police, mainly to fight cab fraud. New Orleans was desperately needing Uber because its one of those towns where you can get killed when a broken down cabbie breaks down in traffic. Our town so far has not made a decision on how to regulate it. I say let them be as they are only upping the cab game. New cars, working heat/ac, and way less likely to break an a-frame on a wide left turn.