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Ride sharing service sued for pedestrian death

At one time, when you were in college, if you needed to catch a ride, you could place sheet of paper on a bulletin board and hope someone would give you a call and a ride. Times have changed and the modern version of that bulletin board is an app that allows riders to submit a request for a ride and quickly be matched with a potential driver.

However, what happens when there is a car accident? In San Francisco, it already has happened. A 6-year-old girl was killed on New Year's Eve, and her family is suing the ride sharing company Uber for wrongful death. Their attorney claims the driver who caused the pedestrian accident was driving for Uber at the time.

Uber is a new twist on a taxi-like service, and does offer a car service in Honolulu, but it does not yet provide the car-sharing program here in Hawaii. The case from San Francisco appears to be the first time the company has been sued in a wrongful death action.

The driver of the car is also facing criminal charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. The civil case is based on the claim that the driver was distracted by the Uber app and the GPS, which would direct him to his next potential Uber fare.

Distraction is a growing concern, here in Honolulu and in every city. All service drivers, from delivery trucks to cabs and even the police, have to maintain an additional level of vigilance from the distraction caused by the communication tools that help them with their jobs. 

Source: Associated Press, "Uber sued for wrongful death of 6-year-old San Francisco girl," Terry Collins, January 27, 2014

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