Syed Muzaffar, an ex-Uber driver, faces charges for the death of a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco.
On Dec. 31, 2013, Muzaffar, 58, struck a San Francisco family on a crosswalk while on duty for Uber. Ang Liu and her 4-year-old son survived the accident but were hurt; however, Liu's daughter Sofia died in the mishap.
In January, Sofia Liu's family sued Uber and Muzaffar for wrongful death, alleging that the car rental service was responsible for the girl's death as well as the incurring cost that resulted from the accident. The complaint filed by the family at the San Francisco Superior Court revealed Muzaffar had been logged into the Uber app and was checking his smartphone around the time he took the sharp turn, which eventually led to the fatal accident.
On Dec. 8, Muzaffar was charged by the court with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. If found guilty, he stands to face up to one year in prison. Last week, he reportedly turned himself in and posted a bail of $50,000.
In his first court appearance at the San Francisco Hall of Justice on Dec. 10, Muzaffar did not enter a plea.
Uber previously shrugged off responsibility, claiming that Muzaffar had been with the car rental service only for a month and he did not have any passenger on board at the time of the accident.
The ride-sharing company has stated in the past that "the driver in question was not providing services on the Uber system during the time of the accident."
However, Chris Dolan, legal counsel for the Liu family, says whether Muzaffar had a passenger on board at the time of the accident was of no consequence.
Muzaffar's attorney John Hamasaki, on the other hand, negated accusations of distracted driving.
"There is no allegation of any distracted driving, no texting, no engaging with the Uber device," said Hamasaki to Bloomberg.
Uber is already facing a PR nightmare, with the service being recently shut down in New Delhi, India, after a driver was accused of raping a passenger. The driver allegedly had a criminal record and Uber did not conduct a background check. The company also faces a lawsuit in Portland, Oregon, pertaining to licensing violations.