Uber Settles Wrongful Death Suit

The family of a 6-year-old girl killed when she was struck in a crosswalk by a car settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the popular "ridesharing" service Uber. According to the lawsuit, the driver was logged into the smartphone app for "Uber X"-a "peer-to-peer" version of the service-indicating that he was available to pick up passengers. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

In the lawsuit, filed in January 2014, the family alleged that, by using the app while driving, the driver was in violation of a California laws prohibiting driving while using a cell phone or operating an "electronic wireless communications device." The family alleged that Uber was liable both because it knowingly allowed and encouraged drivers to violate the law by using the app and because it failed to properly hire, supervise, and train its drivers.

Uber, for its part, denies that Uber drivers are its employees and that it is liable for their conduct. Despite the fact that Uber, recently valued as a $40 billion company, collects payment from passengers in exchange for on-demand transportation, Uber's terms of service states that it "does not provide transportation services" and "is not a transportation carrier." Taxi companies typically use a similar tactic to avoid liability for their drivers' accidents, claiming that drivers are "independent contractors."

Uber and other "ridesharing" services, such as Lyft, were recently in the news in Houston, receiving approval from the city council to operate after a long political and legal battle, in which fears regarding Uber drivers' qualifications and insurance coverage were prominent. As part of the deal, the city imposed strict licensing requirements, including criminal background checks. The ridesharing service, called a "transportation network" in the city ordinance, is also required to provide $1 million in liability insurance coverage for drivers from the time the driver is matched up with the passenger to the time the passenger is dropped off at the destination. The network is also required to provide liability insurance for any time the driver is logged into the app, albeit for a lower amount.

Uber was already in compliance with the insurance requirement, which was modeled on other cities' ordinances. Lyft, however, chose to cease operating in Houston rather than comply with the criminal background check requirements.

Uber's compliance with the background check requirement does not appear to have been perfect: a Houston Uber driver was recently charged with sexually assaulting a passenger. The driver was active with Uber, but according to the city had never applied for a city license and had never undergone a city background check. Uber claimed that the driver had passed its own background check, despite the fact that the driver had previously served 14 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories