Ridesharing Sexual Assault Lawsuit

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Passengers of Uber and Lyft always run the risk of potentially being physically and/or sexually assaulted by the driver. These ridesharing companies perform checks on prospective drivers and will turn away some applicants based on their criminal records and personal histories. However, background checks are never one hundred percent effective at rooting out possible assailants. Uber and Lyft are not able to provide guaranteed safety for every single rider because drivers work on their own time and with their own vehicles.

As a result of negligent hiring practices, faulty background checks, and lack of safety, there have been numerous instances in which an Uber or Lyft driver assaulted a passenger. Rideshare services are commonly used by individuals who need safe transportation home after a night of drinking and these riders are the main targets for sexual assault.

Passengers who have been physically injured or sexually assaulted while using a ridesharing service will need an experienced personal injury lawyer for legal representation. Broughton Partners works to connect professional law firms with potential plaintiffs who meet the case criteria. Many more lawsuits will be forthcoming and plaintiffs will be looking for an attorney who can help them file a ridesharing sexual assault lawsuit.

What Is Ridesharing?

Uber and Lyft have dramatically shaken up the landscape for transportation in this country since their introduction in 2009. Ridesharing makes it easier and more affordable for people to get from place to place. At the same time, they have also put numerous taxi companies out of business and caused grave financial damage to that long standing industry.

Ridesharing is when people turn their own private cars into transportation vehicles for a fee. However, people cannot simply pick up people in their cars and charge them money. As a result, they have a relationship with a ridesharing company (Uber or Lyft) that is approved by the government to provide these services. Users will call for a ride through an app on their phone which will track their location. Passengers are able to order a car with just a few simple clicks

Uber & Lyft Passengers Are Sexually Assaulted

Uber has an estimated 1 to 1.5 million drivers in the United States and counting. While ridesharing is a great travel option for many people, there are still dangerous risks associated with using this type of service.

Ridesharing Risks

  • Lack of professional driving qualifications
  • Unreliable background checks
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Car accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents

Who is at Risk of Uber/Lyft Sexual Assault

Intoxicated passengers, especially females, are prime targets for predators. Uber/Lyft drivers will take advantage of women who are unable to fight back or become unconscious.

 

Examples of sexual assault and misconduct include:

  • Groping
  • Unwanted sexual touching
  • Inappropriate or suggestive remarks
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual abuse
  • Rape
  • Nonconsensual sexual contact

Why Uber/Lyft Sexual Assault Occurs

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  • Faulty background checks – Uber and Lyft only review the last 7 years for driver background checks and both companies do not interview drivers in person.
  • Lack of driver training – Uber and Lyft do not provide proper training for drivers. The companies simply trust drivers based on 7-year background checks.
  • Poor passenger safety – The lack of driver and passenger transparency leads to fake drivers and criminal drivers. Rideshare drivers work on their own time and with their own vehicle, which makes it difficult for companies to provide guaranteed safety.

Uber/Lyft Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Rideshare companies are facing hundreds of lawsuits claiming sexual and/or physical assault. In 2018, CNN reported that 103 Uber drivers and 18 Lyft drivers were accused of sexual assault, misconduct, or kidnapping. Some states, including California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas, have begun investigations into rideshare companies and have found that Uber and Lyft have consistently failed to adequately screen drivers. Drivers for Uber and Lyft must pass a background check, however many of these checks investigate for criminal records and traffic violations only within the last 7 years. This means that any unlawful activity of a driver past the last 7 years is likely to be unknown to the employer. Even when a criminal history is found, the companies may still hire the person as a driver.

There are some limited circumstances when you would be able to sue the ridesharing companies directly. There have been numerous lawsuits filed by passengers who have been assaulted by their Uber or Lyft drivers. The theory behind the lawsuit is that the company failed to perform an appropriate background check on the driver before allowing them to pick up and drive passengers.

In an Uber/Lyft sexual assault lawsuit, both the driver and the company can be held responsible. The driver who committed the crime was directly involved in the assault and the negligent hiring practices of Uber or Lyft allowed for the incident to occur. Thus, the Uber driver can be charged with sexual assault of the passenger, and the passenger can sue Uber/Lyft for sexual assault.

July 2015

Uber settled a wrongful death lawsuit for an undisclosed amount after a 6-year-old girl was hit by an Uber car. The Uber driver was allegedly using the Uber app and accepting passengers during the incident.

January 2016

Uber agreed to pay more than $7 million to the California Public Utilities Commission. The lawsuit claimed Uber failed to comply with data reporting requirements.

February 2016

Uber was ordered to pay $28.5 million to resolve lawsuits alleging the company’s “Safe Rides Fee,” was misrepresentative of the quality of their background checks.

March 2016

Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman aftering picking her up from a bar in Orange County, CA.

April 2016

Uber agreed to pay a $25 million settlement over lawsuits that claimed the company was misleading about the driver screening process. 

July 6, 2016

An Uber driver was charged with sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping of an intoxicated passenger.

July 15, 2016

A woman from West Hollywood sued Uber claiming that her driver raped her while she was unconscious.

November 2016

Uber agreed to a settlement for an undisclosed amount to resolve sexual assault lawsuits filed by two female passengers.

January 2017

Uber was ordered to pay $20 million to resolve a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission claiming that the rideshare company misled drivers about earning claims and claims about financing through its Vehicle Solutions Program.

March 2017

Lyft agreed to pay $27 million in a lawsuit over driver employment status and extra costs drivers incur as independent contractors.

March 2018

Uber paid a settlement of $10 million to resolve a class-action lawsuit filed by 420 female Uber employees who alleged harassment and discrimination.

September 2019

14 women filed a lawsuit against Lyft, claiming that between 2014 and 2016, Lyft received around 100 sexual assault complaints.

October 2019

An Uber driver was arrested after a female rider called 911 while the driver sexually assaulted her. 

References

Andrew J. Hawkins. “Uber and Lyft Face an Existential Threat in California — and They’re Losing”, The Verge, Accessed October 22, 2019.

David Goguen, J.D. “I was Hit By an Uber or Lyft Driver — What Now?”, Nolo, Accessed October 22, 2019.

Curtis Lee. “I Was Injured While Riding in an Uber or Lyft Vehicle”, Nolo, Accessed October 22, 2019.

CSG. “State Regulation of Rideshare Companies”, The Council of State Governments, Accessed October 22, 2019.

JC. “How Many Uber Drivers are There?”, Ridester, Accessed October 22, 2019.

Sara Ashley O’Brien, Nelli Black, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin. “CNN investigation: 103 Uber drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse”, CNN. Accessed October 22, 2019.

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