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Wrongful death case settled before trial

A wrongful death claim has been tentatively resolved after the two sides came to an agreement before the case went to trial recently. The amount of damages that the family of a young girl was awarded has not been disclosed, but the case has grabbed national headlines because the party named in the suit is the ride-sharing company Uber.

Uber has been at the center of several legal disputes recently, though most of them involve employment policies and categorization of workers. However, in this case, the dispute mainly centered on whether the driver who struck and killed the 6-year-old girl was in fact providing services for Uber or not. The answer to that question would determine if the company could and should be held accountable.

Reports indicate that the driver who crashed into the little girl -- as well her mother and her brother who survived but were also hurt -- was not actually driving anyone as an Uber driver at the time. However, investigations showed that he was logged in to the ride-sharing app and was in a position to receive requests for pickups.

Rather than take the case to trial, Uber agreed to settle with the family for an unspecified amount.

This case may be a reminder that litigation is not always necessary or desirable in the even of a wrongful death. Defendants may not want to face the potentially high awards that could be ordered by a jury and plaintiffs may prefer to avoid the dramatic, stressful environment that can come with litigation.

There is no quick or easy way to find closure in the aftermath of a fatal accident involving a loved one. The process is complicated and different for every person. However, one thing that can make the situation a little bit easier is holding accountable the parties who were responsible for a death.

Unfortunately, there are times when this is not easy. Parties that contributed a death may try to cover up information or deflect blame onto others in an effort to shield them from liability. In these cases, legal action can help people get the information and resources they need to cope with a devastating loss.

Source: Reuters, "Uber settles wrongful death lawsuit in San Francisco crash," Dan Levine, July 14, 2015

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