The suit, filed Monday against the driver, Syed Muzzafar, 57, and Uber, which provides a mobile telephone application connecting passengers seeking rides with drivers willing to transport them, could weigh heavily in the debate over how the ride-services industry should be regulated, the San Francisco Chronicle said Tuesday.
The suit alleges Muzzafar, who was an Uber contractor, was logged onto the Uber app when he fatally struck Sofia Liu, and was awaiting a ride request. The driver's attorney said he was between fares and was not providing company services at that moment.
The suit adds that, because a driver must interact with the Uber app to locate riders, the app runs afoul of a California law regarding distracted driving.
The Liu family's attorney, Christopher Dolan, said Monday the suit sends "a message to the industry" that its reliance on mobile technology while driving is flawed.
"It's their technology. They need to make it safe," Dolan said.
San Francisco police said the accident occurred on the evening of Dec. 31, 2013, when Muzzafar's vehicle failed to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
Muzzafar was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield to pedestrians. He has not been charged and is out of jail on bail.