Sexual assault is a serious crime that can occur in any professional setting, including ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Unfortunately, such incidents are not uncommon, as Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services have reported many cases of sexual assault by their driver against their passengers.
If you have been sexually assaulted or attacked by an Uber or Lyft driver, it’s essential to understand your legal rights and the steps involved in pursuing a legal case. Though it may seem daunting, you can receive compensation and justice for the harm that was done to you.
Sexual assault is an epidemic among Uber and Lyft’s ridesharing services
What Uber says about sexual assault
According to Uber’s 2019-2020 U.S. Safety Report, the company reported 141 incidents of rape and 998 incidents of sexual assault in 2020, despite the decrease in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report stated that Uber received a total of 3,824 reports of sexual assault and misconduct from 2019 to 2020, which is a 38% decrease compared to the data released in 2019 covering 2017-2018 incidents.
In 2020, there were 998 incidents of sexual assault across various categories. Riders were accused in 43% of sexual assault incidents, while drivers were accused 56% of the time. The report also highlighted that women comprised 81% of the survivors of rape, with men accounting for about 15% of the survivors, a doubling from the previous report.
Some notable statistics from the report include a decrease in the number of reported non-consensual sexual penetration incidents from 247 in 2019 to 141 in 2020. The decline in reported incidents can be attributed to factors such as the impact of the pandemic on platform usage and Uber’s safety and transparency efforts. However, Uber acknowledged that each reported incident represents a traumatic experience for the survivor, and even one incident is one too many.
Uber emphasized its commitment to safety by conducting criminal background checks on drivers and removing over 80,000 drivers from the app due to continuous criminal and motor vehicle checks. The company also introduced measures such as sexual misconduct education for drivers, on-trip reporting for discreetly reporting safety issues, and a Survivor Resources Hotline to support those who report sexual assault incidents on the Uber app.
What Lyft says about sexual assault
Uber is not alone in this problem either. Lyft has released a safety report detailing over 4,000 instances of reported sexual assault on its ride-hailing platform between 2017 and 2019. The report shows an increase in sexual assault reports from around 1,100 in 2017 to approximately 1,800 in 2019. However, the overall incident rate dropped by 19% due to a higher rate of bookings during that period. Lyft states that over 99% of its journeys occurred without any safety incidents.
Jennifer Brandenburger, head of policy development and research at Lyft, acknowledges that even one safety incident is too many and expresses the company’s commitment to ensuring the safety of every Lyft ride. Lyft has invested in safety features, implemented rigorous driver background checks, and consulted with sexual assault experts to enhance safety measures.
While Lyft did not disclose the total number of rides completed in its safety report, the incident rate of 0.0002% is comparable to Uber’s reported incident rate. Unlike Uber, Lyft did not disclose the proportion of incidents involving harm to drivers. Uber previously released a safety report in 2019, revealing around 6,000 reports of sexual assault related to 2.3 billion trips in the United States during 2017 and 2018, with riders accounting for approximately half of the accused in sexual assault reports.
How do I file a sexual assault lawsuit against Uber or Lyft?
There are steps you should take in order to ensure that you receive restitution for the harm that was done to you. First, after attending to your safety and health, contact an experienced attorney who can help you progress through the legal complexities of filing a lawsuit.
Further steps include:
- Document the incidents: Start by documenting any instances of sexual harassment that you have experienced or witnessed. Keep a record of dates, times, locations, and a detailed description of the incidents. If there were any witnesses present, gather their contact information as well. Preserve any relevant messages, emails, or other forms of communication related to the harassment.
- Report the incidents to the rideshare company: Notify the rideshare company, such as Uber or Lyft, about the sexual harassment incidents as soon as possible. These companies have policies in place to address such complaints and may take immediate action to investigate the matter. Provide them with a comprehensive account of the incidents and any supporting evidence you have collected.
- Consult with an experienced attorney: Seek the guidance of an attorney who specializes in personal injury to discuss your case. An attorney will help assess the strength of your claim, explain your legal rights, and guide you through the legal process. They will provide crucial advice on how to proceed and help protect your rights throughout the proceedings.
- Understand employer liability: In Illinois, employers can be held responsible for the actions of their employees under certain circumstances. This concept is known as vicarious liability. When suing an Uber or Lyft driver for sexual harassment, it’s important to explore the possibility of holding the rideshare company liable for the actions of their driver. An attorney can help determine if the company’s policies, training, or negligence contributed to the harassment. In March of this year, legislation was passed that “would hold rideshare services liable in the event that someone is injured or attacked during a trip.”
- Gather additional evidence: Working with your attorney, gather any additional evidence that can support your case. This may include witness statements, surveillance footage, or any other documentation that corroborates your claims. Your attorney will help you build a strong case by organizing and presenting this evidence effectively.
Mediation, settlement, or lawsuit?
Depending on the circumstances and negotiations, various legal avenues may be pursued. Mediation or settlement discussions may be initiated with the rideshare company or their insurance provider to reach a resolution without going to court. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit to pursue your claim in court.
If your case proceeds to litigation, your attorney will guide you through the legal process. They will represent your interests, present evidence, and advocate for your rights during court proceedings. The legal system can be complex, but with a skilled attorney by your side, you can navigate the process with confidence.
Suing an Uber or Lyft driver for sexual assault requires a careful and strategic approach. By documenting incidents, reporting them to the rideshare company, consulting with an attorney, gathering evidence, and exploring legal options, you can seek justice for the harm you have endured. Remember, each case is unique, so it’s crucial to consult with an attorney who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.
At Glisson Law, our experienced legal team will use our expertise to assert your rights and hold the responsible parties accountable for the sexual assault you have experienced. If you have been sexually assaulted by a rideshare driver, call us or use our contact form, and we’ll schedule a free appointment to discuss your options. Glisson Law is based in Alton and proudly serves clients in Belleville, Edwardsville, St. Clair and Madison Counties, and throughout Illinois and Missouri.