Popular transportation-on-demand company Uber is facing harsh criticism and a wrongful death lawsuit after a fiery crash claimed the life of a 20-year-old man in Florida’s Miami-Dade county in the early morning hours of December 27.
Shafena Mohamed and Pablo Sanchez Sr., mother and father of the man killed in the accident, filed suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on January 8 against the company and the two drivers involved in the crash, Uber drivers Jean Ralph Adam and Adam Shamma Chery.
According to the court filing, Pablo Sanchez Jr. called for a ride on the night of the 27th to take him and some friends from downtown Miami to his parents’ home in Country Walk approximately 30 miles away.
The GMC Yukon he was riding in turned sharply into oncoming traffic, flipped on its side and caught fire. Sanchez was trapped inside the wreckage and died. The drivers and other passengers escaped.
The lawsuit claims that Uber is negligent in its driver screening process and takes no precautions to ensure that drivers aren’t driving while fatigued or otherwise impaired. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Andrew Yaffa, “Many of these drivers are using Uber to supplement their lifestyle. You may have folks that have two and three other jobs and are coming on duty late in the day. Somehow, someway there needs to be safeguards that Uber is not putting people that are on the verge of falling asleep behind the wheel and responsible for our children.”
Although thousands of Uber drivers currently operate in Miami-Dade county, the service is technically illegal because it doesn’t comply with the county’s car-for-hire regulations. Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the county commission are trying to reach a compromise on differing proposals on driver screening procedures that would lead to legalizing Uber operations in the county. The final proposal is scheduled for an initial vote on January 20.
Bill Gibbons, a spokesman for Uber, had no comment on the lawsuit or company policies but said, “We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident, and our thoughts are with all those involved and their families during this very difficult time.”
Uber does carry commercial insurance on its drivers, with a policy that offers $1 million in coverage once a ride has started.