Uber is facing a lawsuit after one of its drivers crashed while leaving the Eden Roc hotel in Miami Beach, a wreck that caused massive brain damage to a nurse visiting from South Carolina.
The lawsuit is the latest against ride-sharing services involved in traffic crashes in Miami-Dade, and comes as the county commission is considering legislation to regulate the business of Uber and its smaller competitor, Lyft.
The suit was filed by Dr. Richard Day and his wife, nurse Jean Day, who were in town for a medical conference back in December. That afternoon, the couple hailed an Uber ride from driver Ingrid Parra, who drove a 2009 Nissan Murano.
According to a police report and the lawsuit, Parra crashed into another car immediately after turning into traffic along Collins Avenue after leaving the hotel. She was cited for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.
Day, a gynecologist from Charleston, broke his leg in the crash. Jean Day, a nurse who specializes in the administration of anesthesia, suffered injuries to her brain and has undergone several surgeries.
For now, she must wear a helmet to protect her skull before another surgery scheduled later this month.
“Jean really loved helping people and she loved her job,” said their Miami lawyer, Christopher Drury. “It hurts her deeply that she has not been able resume her career and that most likely will never be able to.”
Uber representatives did not respond to e-mails and calls on Monday.
The popularity of Uber and Lyft – which contract with drivers who use a smart phone app to accept requests for rides – have skyrocketed in South Florida and across the country in recent years. But not without controversy.
The Day’s lawsuit is at least the third against a ride-sharing service involved in a crash in the past six months, and each has pointed to drivers paying attention to their smart phones, not the road.
In January, Uber was sued by the relatives of a Miami-Dade College student who was killed in a fiery wreck in Kendall. The Uber driver, however, was not faulted in the crash. Another motorist, college student Alexander Chica, was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter.
Back in November, Lyft was hit with a lawsuit by the family of a 29-year-old Loinier Perez, who was thrown off his motorcycle and killed after a crash with a ride-sharing driver in Wynwood.
In the Day case, the lawsuit alleges Uber failed to realize that the driver “was not qualified, had not received sufficient training and was not being supervised” properly.
The ascendency of Uber, as well as Lyft, has sparked fierce resistance from taxi drivers as local governments have struggled with how to legalize the operations. Miami-Dade county regulators say Uber drivers violate for-hire rules, but the popularity of the service has put enormous pressure on commissioners.
Both companies need a constant churn of part-time drivers to provide both the blanket coverage and competitive rates that have made the services so popular.
Broward initially required fingerprinting drivers, but backed off once both Uber and Lyft made good on threats to leave the market last summer. By the fall, Broward had adopted legislation pushed by the companies.
After a Michigan Uber driver was arrested and charged with fatally shooting six people, Miami-Dade commissioners have threatened to impose a fingerprint requirement. The commission will vote in May.