At this point, it’s become clear that rideshare companies such as Lyft and Uber are not particularly stringent when it comes to hiring and training processes, especially when they are compared to more traditional modes of transportation. These lax safety guidelines only increase the risk of accidents, or worse, sexual assault and other forms of rider harassment.
Every time we send out a ride request, there is always a level of risk involved. Thankfully, accident victims can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Van Law Firm is standing by to protect their rights and get them the compensation they deserve.
The Facts About Rideshare Sexual Assault
Given the fact that these companies haven’t been around for very long, there is not a ton of readily accessible information regarding the safety of using rideshares. However, both Uber and Lyft have released their own internal safety reports in years past, and as of early 2021, a background check company known as HireRight will maintain a database of sexual and physical assault claims for both companies.
At this point, both third-party databases and the companies’ own reports have provided some shocking statistics:
- Uber’s first safety report from 2019 cited almost 6,000 received claims of driver sexual abuse in the two-year span from 2017-2018
- In 2019 alone, 14 women sued Lyft over sexual assault claims
- There have been at least 16 reported kidnappings between both companies
- Between both companies, there have been over 350 sexual assault claims filed in criminal court
How and Why Do These Assaults Happen?
When you stop to think about the process of an Uber or Lyft ride, it’s not hard to see why these assaults take place. Experienced and novice perpetrators alike both look for one thing: opportunity. If an individual has sick intentions, he or she must actively search for victims, which can deter a large number of incidents. However, if the abuser has an endless stream of victims who voluntarily get into their vehicle, that person is bound to be emboldened by the opportunity in front of them.
Anytime a driver is in a position to take advantage of a rider, an assault is likely to occur. Rideshare companies have done nothing to mitigate these claims, and their negligence is multifaceted:
Loose Hiring Procedures
Unlike traditional taxis, buses, and other transportation services, rideshare companies only extend driver background checks to the last seven years. Additionally, they do not interview drivers or otherwise meet them in any way.
Unsatisfactory Driver Training
Drivers who register through rideshare apps do not receive any formal driving instruction, and they certainly do not have to submit to behavioral and ethical training. These drivers are also mandated to use their smartphones during rides, yet they receive no instruction as to how to do so safely. These practices would not be accepted anywhere else, yet rideshare companies have utilized them from the beginning.
Lack of Transparency and Accountability
Perhaps the biggest infringement of rider safety is the fact that no rideshare company can ever verify the identity of a driver for any given ride. All they see is the owner of the driver profile, but if Catfish has taught us anything, it’s that people can easily pretend to be someone else online. Who’s stopping a driver from giving their phone and car keys to someone else not associated with the app? Who’s asking a driver for ID to verify that they are in fact registered? The answer is nobody.
Both Uber and Lyft are just now starting to formulate new rider safety features. Unfortunately, these are just another example of “too little too late.”
The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Sexual Assault Cases
Most sexual assault victims believe that the only legal defense they have is a criminal case against the driver. This is not true–if you were an assault victim in an Uber or Lyft, there’s a high chance you sustained physical injuries, not to mention emotional and psychological distress. A civil suit could allow you to recoup much-needed financial compensation, whereas a criminal case will only punish the defendant and not benefit you personally. To be clear, we are not saying you shouldn’t pursue criminal charges if that’s what you want, but this is just something to keep in mind.
Additionally, if you choose to file a civil claim, you may be eligible to file against both the driver and the rideshare company. This is much more effective in terms of recovering compensation, as a large corporation will have a bigger wallet than an individual person. Uber has already previously settled two class-action sexual assault suits, with more coming down the pipe. The best thing accident victims can do is to speak with an attorney about the specifics of your case to improve your chances of a successful claim.
Talk to Rideshare Sexual Assault Attorneys Now
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault while in an Uber or Lyft and would like to pursue a civil case, contact Van Law Firm as soon as possible. Our Uber and Lyft sexual assault attorneys will work with you every step of the way until you get the treatment and reimbursement you rightfully deserve. Our certified 5-star rating didn’t arise overnight–we’ve been working hard for our community for years, and we’re not stopping anytime soon. Call our office nearest you to protect your rights.