In another pedestrian tragedy, a man was killed and his girlfriend seriously injured when struck by a Mercedes SUV while they were crossing E. 62nd Street at Lexington Ave. on Jan. 3. The driver was an Uber driver who was going to pick up passengers at the time of the pedestrian accident. The injured woman filed a lawsuit recently, claiming that the software used by Uber drivers violated New York law by distracting the driver.
The driver was not cited by authorities for improper driving even though the lawsuit says that the pair were lawful pedestrians in a crosswalk when they were hit. Normally, a driver must pause and allow those in a crosswalk to pass safely before going forward. However, the driver has been reinstated by Uber, and his license remains valid in New York.
The lawsuit claims that the driver was speeding and disregarded a traffic signal. The complaint also says the driver broke New York law by using an electronic device while driving. It implicates Uber as being liable for knowing that such a device was illegal under state law and that it would have illegally distracted the driver. The suit claims that, not only was the driver hurrying to pick up passengers, but he was also distracted due to the data coming over the electronic device.
It is also reportedly a violation of the Taxi and Limousine Commission rules in New York to operate such an electronic device while driving, although limited use may be allowed for receiving information on a new customer. In any event, if the couple were in the crosswalk at the time of being struck, the circumstances appear sufficient to establish that the driver was in some way or another not paying attention to what was ahead of him. His failure to let the couple cross in front of him is very likely negligent driving with respect to this pedestrian accident. Accordingly, this civil claim for damages will more likely than not be successful in obtaining a settlement or a verdict.
Source: streetsblog.org, “Crash Victim Lawsuit: App Use by Uber Drivers Is Negligent and Illegal“, Brad Aaron, March 20, 2015