Man Sues Uber for Accident that left Him Paralyzed
Uber Technologies Inc. is facing a lawsuit from an accident victim who was in an Uber vehicle that was struck and left him paralyzed. A U.S. district judge on Wednesday ruled that Uber must turn over the driver’s personal information to his lawyer, who represents the victim in a separate lawsuit against the ride-hailing company and its parent company, Alphabet Inc.
Jonathan Hardeman, a former medical student at the University of Washington, was riding in an Uber vehicle when it collided with a car on April 19, according to court documents. The other driver claimed that he had turned right into an intersection when the collision occurred, but Hardeman’s injury could not have been caused by that action.
Hardeman, who recently graduated from the UW Medical School, has been paralyzed from the waist down since the crash, according to court documents filed this week. His suit against Uber alleges violations of state law, which protect drivers from being held liable for injuries suffered in accidents involving their vehicles.
The accident victim filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court last week. He alleges that the driver negligently caused his injury in the collision with another vehicle, and then took advantage of his medical condition to continue driving. The driver’s negligence, he says in the suit, led to him being “compelled” to drive, which caused him to be unable to stop when he hit a car and dragged it for several hundred feet. It also didn’t help that Uber cut off his ability to seek emergency medical care as soon as he got into the car; a situation many ride-hailing drivers find themselves in.
Uber has faced a rash of lawsuits and protests since it started offering rides in its signature black sedan. In January, the company hit a roadblock in the state of Illinois, where lawmakers passed legislation that effectively barred the service from operating there.
Uber has also been dealing with a lawsuit filed by the family of an Arizona woman who was killed after being struck by one of its vehicles. And earlier this month, it was hit with a class-action lawsuit by drivers who claim they were misclassified as independent contractors.
The cases highlight two issues for the upstart service provider: how to maintain safety, and how to handle employees who want to be treated as employees instead of contractors.