Uber is the largest rideshare company in the United States. It has become indispensable for getting around California and other large cities. But the convenience of Uber as a service has come at a steep cost for those who have been sexually assaulted by their Uber driver. According to one report by National Public Radio (NPR), Uber said that it received 5,981 allegations of sexual assault just in the U.S. over a two-year period between 2017 and 2018. Behavior ranged all the way from unwanted touching to forcible kissing and rape. A total of 19 people died in physical assaults during or shortly after taking an Uber in that period.
Critics of Uber have said that the company has been less than transparent about the full scope of the problem. The rideshare company recently agreed to pay a $9-million settlement for its role in failing to comply with California regulators by not providing information about sexual assault claims it received. Proceeds of the settlement will go in part to support passenger safety initiatives. If you or someone that you love has been sexually assaulted during an Uber ride, there are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. It is possible to hold the perpetrator and Uber accountable for what happened. Our team of experienced California Uber sexual assault attorneys at The Carrillo Law Firm are here for you. We can evaluate all of the unique facts of your case and let you know if you have a legal claim that can be pursued. You can call us at 626-317-6875.
Can Uber Be Liable In Sexual Assault Cases?
Uber can be held liable if their passengers are sexually assaulted during or after their trips. Rideshare companies have a legal responsibility to provide a reasonably safe environment for passengers. This includes taking steps to screen out drivers that could foreseeably put Uber passengers at risk. Thorough background checks go a long way in weeding out drivers with criminal records who have no business transporting passengers. Companies like Uber can be held liable for negligently hiring or retaining employees as well as independent contractors. In order to be successful in a negligent hiring claim, California plaintiffs will have to demonstrate a number of provisions.
- The driver was unfit to safely transport passengers or posed an unreasonable danger to them.
- The ridesharing company knew or should have known about the danger.
- The unfitness of the driver caused harm to the victim.
- The ridesharing company’s hiring decisions was a substantial factor in causing the harm.
Despite its $42 billion market cap as of June, 2022, Uber has yet to turn a profit. This has arguably led the company to cut corners to save money, especially when it comes to background checks. Uber has relied on less strict third-party background checks that are far less reliable than those used by the FBI. One report from CNN discovered that thousands of people with felony records were still driving for Uber. In another instance, a convicted terrorist was allowed to drive for Uber. When a company like Uber fails to thoroughly vet drivers who then go on to assault passengers, this could form the basis of a negligence claim. Whether or not any claim against Uber will be successful ultimately depends on the foreseeability of the harm.
Uber Faces Numerous Lawsuits Over Sexual Assault Claims
Uber along with its competitor Lyft are facing up to 1,000 separate sexual assault and harassment lawsuits. Most of these cases are being brought in San Francisco’s Superior Court. San Francisco is where both Uber and Lyft have headquarters. About a third of the lawsuits are from plaintiffs who live in the Bay Area or California. At this point, the lawsuits are still being reviewed separately and have not been combined into a class action claim. This is due in part because the details and severity of the cases vary so widely. But one pattern has emerged in many of the lawsuits, drivers took advantage of vulnerable women who were intoxicated or fell asleep.
- The lawsuits claim Uber has not done nearly enough to protect passengers.
- Uber is also facing many claims of sexual harassment for employees that work at the company’s San Francisco headquarters.
- Uber has consistently fought to resolve claims through arbitration rather than through a jury trial. This is part of the company’s terms of service.
Plaintiffs have described in court proceedings what they have had to endure including rape. Being the victim of any sexual assault is no small matter. Survivors are often left with life-long psychological trauma and are more prone to a wide range of negative health outcomes. This includes but is not limited to engaging in self-harm, substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections, panic attacks and depression. Uber wants nothing more than to eventually become profitable. The last thing they want is to be held accountable for their safety shortcomings which could undermine the value of the company. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to seek legal counsel if you have been the victim of a sexual assault in an Uber.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Sexually Assaulted In An Uber?
Passengers who have been the victims of a sexual assault in an Uber often report an overwhelming sense of shame and sadness about their experience. It is not uncommon for them to blame themselves, even though they are the victims of a violent crime they did not seek out. This is one of the many reasons that nearly 2 out of 3 instances of sexual assault go unreported. It can be difficult to know where to begin after any instance of sexual assault. What follows are some steps that you should take after any Uber sexual assault to prevent further harm and preserve your rights.
- Sexual assault victims should try to reach a safe location to prevent any further attacks. If possible, it is then advisable to call 911. Medical staff can both treat your injuries and preserve evidence of the assault. Contacting law enforcement is important for the purpose of documenting what happened.
- It is common for sexual assault victims to have trouble remembering exactly what happened during the attack. This is why it is so important to take as many notes as you can about what happened. Important details will include the time, date and location of the assault and any personal information about the assailant.
- It is always a good idea to discuss the facts of your case with an experienced sexual assault attorney. Companies like Uber will do everything in their power to deny responsibility for any sexual assault. An attorney can advocate on your behalf and help you get the justice that you are entitled to. They can even report the incident for you, which is something many victims find intimidating.
Partly in response to the lawsuits that it has faced, Uber has implemented some safety features that can help prevent sexual assaults. If at any point during a ride a passenger feels uncomfortable, they can silently use Uber’s emergency safety button. This will provide 911 dispatchers with a GPS location of the car along with make, model and license plate information. Whenever possible it is also advisable to ride in the back-seat of the vehicle. Confirming vehicle and driver information prior to getting in the car is also very important.
Getting Legal Help After Being Sexually Assaulted In An Uber
The Carrillo Law Firm is committed to standing up for sexual assault victims and helping their voices be heard. We understand how traumatic it can be to go through any sexual assault. Though we are highly experienced litigators, we are compassionate advocates first and foremost. The decision to come forward and pursue any sexual assault claim is a very personal decision and one that we respect.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault while in an Uber, you do have the right to seek restitution for your injuries. Damages can help cover lost wages, medical bills and potentially punitive awards. We will do everything in our power to hold Uber and its driver accountable for what you have been through. Whether you just have legal questions or would like a free, confidential investigation into a specific incident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 626-317-6875.
Can I sue Uber if I was sexually assaulted by an Uber driver?
Yes, you can file a negligent hiring claim against Uber to hold them accountable.
How many people have been sexually assaulted in an Uber?
Uber said that it received 5,981 allegations of sexual assault over a 2 year period in the U.S. alone. Though, this likely represents a small fraction of actual victims.
Can I get compensation if I have been sexually assaulted in an Uber?
Victims of sexual assaults may be entitled to economic, non-economic and punitive awards if they were assaulted in an Uber?
What Should I Do If I Have Been Sexually Assaulted In An Uber?
The most important thing to do after an assault is to get to safety and call police. Then you should talk to a lawyer about your case.
What are the long term consequences of sexual assault?
Sexual assault survivors suffer many long-term negative health outcomes including substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections, panic attacks and depression.