The Uber service is essentially a cab service that can be called by consumers from their mobile phone or other digital applications. It turns out that the driver who killed a 27-year-old golf teacher who was crossing the street in New York City last week was an independent contractor for Uber. He was reportedly on his way to pick up a passenger when he hit and killed the victim in a pedestrian accident.
The decedent and his girlfriend were crossing the street at East 62nd Street between Lexington and Third when the Uber driver’s Mercedes SUV struck them both. The girlfriend was injured and hospitalized in stable condition. The driver was not charged but a police investigation continues.
Uber placed the driver on suspension pending the results of the investigation. There was considerable confusion at the scene and thereafter regarding whether the driver was a licensed operator. Police at first issued a citation for unlicensed operation but later dismissed it after it was confirmed that he had a commercial license and commercial insurance satisfactory under New York law.
Uber is currently struggling with various state authorities over its own licensing rights. In New York, the company has failed to turn over various trip information data bases, which initiated an ongoing controversy with the city. With respect to the accident, there is no indication of fault at this time.
The New York police investigation will likely contribute considerable information regarding fault. When a pedestrian is properly crossing the street, the problem generally is the speed and carelessness of the driver. Many drivers in New York still tend to view their own position as being superior to the pedestrian’s. However, speed limits have been reduced recently, and police are upscaling their enforcement efforts in a new move to decrease pedestrian accident numbers in the city. If the facts indicate negligence by the driver, both the decedent’s estate and the injured girlfriend will have separate claims against the driver and against Uber, as his principal.
Source: post-gazette.com, “Hampton native was hit by driver for Uber“, Kim Lyons and Andrew Goldstein, Jan. 8, 2015