Uber and Driver Found Responsible In Wrongful Death Accident
There are many advantages to having an Uber account. Booking an Uber car is easy, the drivers are reliable, and the fares are inexpensive. Uber has become a real force in private transportation. The company’s rise has not come without controversy.
Anyone with a vehicle and driver’s license can offer their services on Uber. The company does not attempt to screen out people with poor driving records. Nor does it conduct any kind of driver training and safety course. The company has even experimented with self-driving cars. Prototypes of this kind of car has been in development for years. Uber is the first transport company to put them in use. Tragedy has been the result.
A Death in Arizona
One night in March 2018, a woman crossed a dark road in Tempe, Arizona. An Uber driver was sitting behind the wheel of a self-driving car streaming a video on her phone. The footage from the car’s dashboard camera shows the pedestrian walking her red bike with bags across the road. The driver looked up six seconds before the crash and then looked backed down. She then looked up again one second before the crash and had no time to act before the collision. The pedestrian was killed in the crash.
Although investigators have been trying to figure out why the vehicle did not detect the woman, what is clear is that there was a failure of technology and human vigilance. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded as much. It released a 400-page report in early November 2019 stating that Uber could have done more to prevent the death of the woman. The report specifically states that Uber’s lack of oversight of vehicle operators and adequate training and safety procedures contributed to the collision. The NTSB also concluded that the company compromised public safety by disabling the emergency braking systems in its self-driving cars and failed to install technology that would recognize pedestrians outside crosswalks.
After the crash, Uber pulled all its self-driving cars from public roads. However, in December 2018 it re-started the road testing of these cars. The company has said it will have two safety drivers in self-driving cars, and that it plans to develop a comprehensive safety management system.
The Rise of Uber Accidents
Uber’s self-driving cars are not the only ones causing accidents. Cities in which Uber has expanded its operations have seen a precipitous increase in car accidents, many of which involve Uber vehicles. The company’s disregard for selection criteria, driver safety courses, and other good organizational practices have led to many accident-related injuries and even some deaths. The company’s decision to invest in self-driving cars is not likely to stem this trend.
Uber’s Responsibility in Wrongful Death Accidents
If a loved one was killed in a car crash involving an Uber car, you should pay close attention to the findings of the NTSB report in the Tempe, Arizona crash. The company’s negligence in driver screening and safety may make it liable for the accident that led to the death of your loved one.
Uber has a standard one million dollar compensation package for individuals injured in accidents involving its vehicles. This is not money that it gives easily. Accident victims must first try to settle with the insurance company of the Uber driver. Uber will only step in if the driver does not have an adequate insurance policy.
In any case, a wrongful death claim is not the same as a personal injury claim. If you have lost someone in an Uber accident, you are entitled to much more than the standard sum of money.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim
The first thing you must do is hire a lawyer who specializes in this area of law. With this case, a wrongful death lawyer in Arizona would be the appropriate firm to engage with. In the event of an accident-related death, you can expect to hear from Uber straightaway. They will try to offer you the kind of money that they think will satisfy you and stop you from pressing any further claims. You should not deal directly with the company. You should instead refer all inquiries to your attorney.
You should leave all communications and negotiation to your attorney from that moment onward. The first thing that your lawyer will do is determine whether you have standing to sue for wrongful death. In all states, surviving spouses can file such a suit.
Your lawyer will then begin the process of getting you a fair settlement.
How to Get a Fair Settlement
In most instances, the initial offer made by Uber will be low. Your lawyer will most likely advise you to refuse it and will do so on your behalf. They will then launch an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident. They will use the results of the formal NTSB-led inquiry and will also put their in-house private investigators on the case. After gathering all the facts, speaking to you and other surviving relatives, and consulting with expert witnesses, your attorney will come up with a sum of money that you should receive.
Uber is highly sensitive to the negative publicity that a wrongful death suit can generate, and they will certainly want to keep the case out of court. Your attorney will use the company’s desire to settle matters quietly to their advantage. A wrongful death claim is not about revenge. The sum of money demanded represents real financial loss and potential hardship. The figure takes into account the loss of actual and potential earnings, burial costs, emotional and psychological trauma, and other factors.
If all the evidence points toward negligence and organizational failure on the part of Uber, then your attorney will press the company to pay you the sum of money demanded. Your attorney will only file a formal lawsuit if the company stalls for time or employs other tactics designed to frustrate and pressure you into accepting their initial offer.
If you have lost a loved one in an Uber-related accident, you should hire a wrongful death attorney who will look closely at the facts of the case and advocate for your interests.