Massachusetts Crash Victim Sues Uber for $63 Million

By | January 26, 2022

A Massachusetts man seriously injured in a crash while a passenger in an Uber car is suing Uber and the driver for $63 million in damages.

The suit accuses Uber of negligence in the hiring of the driver, who the complaint says had at least 20 driving citations on his publicly available driving record and had been required by the state to take a driver re-training course.

The suit, filed in Superior Court for Suffolk County, maintains that the driver was an employee of Uber and not an independent contractor as Uber claims.

William Good, 31, on his way home from his job in a Boston restaurant, was rendered a quadriplegic by the crash last April 30 close to 1 a.m. Good suffered “devastating and debilitating injuries” including a severe spinal cord injury. He will remain a quadriplegic for life.

Uber “knew or should have known” that the defendant driver posed an unreasonable risk to riders in his vehicle, as well as other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, given his extensive driving history and prior driver re-training, the suit claims.

The suit also claims that the driver was under Uber’s direction and control and was acting within the course and scope of his employment. It notes that drivers are provided liability insurance when they are working for Uber.

Also, as a common carrier licensed in the state, Uber is subject to “heightened responsibility to the public in the hiring, training and oversight of its drivers,” the suit continues.

Good alleges that Uber incentivizes its drivers to “engage in life-threatening driving practices on public roads” in order to gain increased revenue and ratings and that the company has failed to train its drivers on safety policies and protocols.

In his description of the night of the crash, Good said the driver expressed excitement about driving to Somerville where Good lived “because there was less traffic and he could fly around.'” He said the driver’s speed was “frightening” and he “felt the car swerve back and forth.”

According to an interview on Boston television station WCVB, Good was not wearing a seat belt.

Good is seeking $63 million in damages including $13 million for current and future medical services.

The lawsuit comes at a time when the courts and voters in Massachusetts are debating the issue of whether ride-hailing drivers are employees or independent contractors.

Last March, a Massachusetts judge denied a bid to dismiss a lawsuit by the state’s attorney general challenging Uber’s and Lyft’s classification of drivers as independent contractors instead of employees entitled to sick time and other benefits. The judge did not rule on whether drivers are misclassified but he allowed the claims against Uber and Lyft to proceed.

Meanwhile, a proposed November ballot measure would classify Uber, Lyft and other drivers for app-cased companies as closer to independent contractors rather than employees.

According to an analysis by Commonwealth Magazine, supporters of the ballot measure raised $17 million last year, with $14.4 million of that from Lyft. A labor group opposed to the ballot question has raised about $1 million.

The Massachusetts proposal follows a similar 2020 measure passed by voters in California. However, the measure was later ruled unconstitutional by a California judge.

Topics Lawsuits Massachusetts

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