Uber driver kills 6-year-old pedestrian, raises questions about company's liability [w/video]

On New Year's Eve, an Uber driver struck a family of three as they were crossing a San Francisco street. The driver, 57-year-old Syed Muzzaraf, turned into the crosswalk without yielding and struck six-year-old Sophia Liu, her brother and her mother, San Francisco District Supervisor Jane Kim told Autoblog's sister website, Tech Crunch. Sophia was killed and her mother remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital.

The incident has raised questions about the nature of insurance for ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. For example, in the incident that killed Sophia Liu, Uber has already essentially denied liability, claiming Muzzaraf wasn't "providing services on the Uber system at the time of the accident," (we've included the full statement from Uber below). It's not entirely clear, though, whether Muzzaraf was merely waiting on a job or whether his employment with Uber was merely circumstantial in this situation.

In a traditional taxi, there's coverage at all times regardless of whether the driver is between fares or heading back to the garage. Typically, all Uber contractors are required to carry commercial car insurance, which is supplemented by $1 million in coverage from the company, according to Tech Crunch.

This isn't the case in California, though, where Uber has been given permission to operate cars without the commercial-grade coverage, meaning that in the case of Muzzafar - who remained on the scene and was cooperative with police, but was still booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter - we don't know if he had anything beyond personal insurance for the Honda Pilot he was driving.

With ride-sharing and taxi apps growing in popularity, though, situations like the one in San Francisco are (unfortunately) only going to become more common. We've assembled a poll down below to gauge your thoughts on the matter. Scroll down, register your vote and then hop into Comments and let us know what you think. We've also included the full statement from Uber, regarding the incident that killed Sophia Liu and video of the news report on the incident from the local ABC affiliate down below.

The video meant to be presented here is no longer available. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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Our hearts go out to the family and victims of the accident that occurred in downtown San Francisco last night. We work with transportation providers across the Bay Area, but we can confirm that this tragedy did not involve a vehicle or provider doing a trip on the Uber system.

Our policy is to immediately deactivate any Uber partner involved in a serious law enforcement matter. For that reason, we urge the police to release information about the driver in question as soon as possible. If the driver is a partner of Uber, his or her Uber account will immediately be deactivated.

UPDATE: We thank law enforcement for the quick release of information. We can confirm that the driver in question was a partner of Uber and that we have deactivated his Uber account. The driver was not providing services on the Uber system during the time of the accident. We again extend our deepest condolences to the family and victims of this tragic accident.

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