A Massachusetts man is suing Uber for $63 million, claiming the ride-hailing company hired a driver with a dangerous record who was at the wheel in an accident that left him paralyzed. Will Good was in an Uber last April 30th on his way home from work when the driver swerved sharply and hit a parked car, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court. The lawsuit says Good struck his head on the passenger side seat and immediately knew he was paralyzed.
The lawsuit states that the driver has a driving history dating back to 1996 that includes more than 20 driving citations, including several for failure to stop and failure to yield. According to the suit, the driver was previously required by Massachusetts to undergo a driver re-training course. Uber, Good’s lawsuit argues, should not have hired the driver for its platform, given his lengthy history of citations, and should have expected that hiring him “would result in jeopardy to the health, safety, and/or welfare to residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including plaintiff William Good.”
Good is seeking a jury trial and damages, including physical and emotional injuries, permanent disability, and extraordinary pain and suffering.
Uber declined a request for comment from The Verge, citing the pending litigation.
Good’s attorney, Victoria Santoro Mair, said in an interview with The Verge that Good is seeking to raise awareness so that what happened to him doesn’t happen to anyone else. “He’s hoping that by using his voice, he can contribute to the effort to make Uber safer,” she said. Santoro Mair said no charges were filed against the driver in the incident.
The lawsuit comes as a coalition of ride-hailing companies is pushing proposals that are likely to become state ballot initiatives later this year. The Boston Globe reports that the coalition wants voters to decide whether companies like Uber and Lyft can keep categorizing drivers who work for them as independent contractors, not employees. State Attorney General Maura Healy has argued that Uber and Lyft are breaking the law by not classifying their drivers as employees, which she says allows the companies to avoid responsibility for their drivers’ actions.
Voters sided with the ride-hailing companies on a similar ballot initiative in California in 2020, but a judge later ruled the measure was unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Santoro Mair says Good is hoping that by raising awareness about how Uber conducts business, voters will be able to make an informed decision if asked to determine whether ride-hail drivers should be contractors or employees. “Voters need to be aware of what Uber’s business practices are,” she said. “They don’t want to be held responsible for safety of passengers while they’re in the car.”