Driving service Uber now operates in 60 cities and is worth $4 billion, the Boston Globe reports. But the company is under scrutiny for more reasons than one, including this big one: A driver hit a 6-year-old girl on New Year’s Eve, killing her, and a lawsuit was filed yesterday. It names the driver as well as the company, and says the app-based service is breaking California laws against distracted driving. According to the filing, driver Syed Muzzafar, 57, was using the UberX app to find his next customer when he hit Sofia Liu; the girl’s mother and brother were also hurt.
Uber drivers “must respond quickly to a user request for service by physically interfacing with the app, thereby leading to distraction,” the suit says. State law requires hands-free devices, but an Uber driver can’t grab a fare without pressing the screen at least once. The family’s lawyer also says that Uber failed to provide insurance to cover the scenario: Muzzafar had no fare in his car when he hit Sofia; state rules call for insurance to cover drivers while on trips for Uber, says an expert, but it’s less clear about insurance for drivers between passengers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Uber says that since Muzzafar didn’t have a passenger, Uber has no culpability in the matter; his lawyer maintains the opposite. “He was waiting for a fare. He was working for Uber.” Police arrested Muzzafar on suspicion of manslaughter, but he hasn’t been charged.