A Growing Problem
Uber’s latest safety report revealed that there were 6,000 sexual assault incidents reported in the last two years, between drivers and riders who used the mobile app. Passengers are only slightly more likely to be a victim (55%) than a perpetrator (45%) in these situations.
There were 2,936 sexual complaints in 2017, and 2018 saw an increase with 3,045 complaints. Of those 464 (15%) were reports of rape. These numbers may be much higher since studies show as many as 65% of sexual assaults go unreported.
If you’ve faced unwanted physical contact, sexual advances, or assault while using a rideshare - either as a driver or passenger, you may be able to pursue a claim against the responsible parties.
Don’t Rideshare Companies Perform Background Checks of Their Drivers?
Rideshare companies use third parties for background checks, but the criteria may vary from company to company.
According to the New York Times, “Many ride-hailing companies initially thrived by flouting regulations and allowing almost anyone with a car to become a driver without the screening and the licenses required in the taxi industry. Reports of sexual assault and even murder have since become a regular occurrence as ride-hailing has become a mainstay of urban transportation.”
Unfortunately, background checks only go back seven years. If a driver was convicted of a violent crime or felony outside of the seven-year span, the rideshare company likely would not be aware of it.
Moreover, the background checks could only search for the applicant’s history within the U.S. That means, if the driver committed a crime or is a sex offender in another country, that information will not show up on the background check conducted here in the US.
These gaps in security create an environment that could endanger a passenger.
What Should One Do After an Uber or Lyft Sexual Assault?
- Report the incident to the police.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Report the assault to the rideshare company.
- Save everything related to the trip as evidence: clothing worn, ride receipts, screen shots, medical reports and bills, etc.
- Contact a lawyer to help you toward getting the justice and compensation you need.
Who’s Responsible for a Rideshare-Related Assault?
Liability depends on the circumstances, but either or both of the following parties may be held accountable:
- The driver or the rider who committed the assault could be held responsible in civil court for the harm caused to the victim.
- The rideshare company may be liable for sexual assaults if they are found to be negligent of hiring known sex offenders or dangerous individuals.
What Type of Case Does this Fall Under?
This falls under the umbrella of "negligence," because a business is required by Florida law to provide safe conditions for their customers. If the owners fail to do so, they may face civil action for negligent security. Florida law extends the duty to protect against foreseeable criminal acts, which are any acts that the business owner could have taken reasonable measures to prevent.
Why Should a Victim Hire a Lawyer?
A personal injury law firm could help you by:
- Contacting insurance companies.
- Helping you recover the costs of treatment.
- Representing you in communications with the insurance companies and legal court proceedings.
- Fighting for your rights.
At Rubenstein Law, we understand how upsetting and even painful it can be to suffer a violent assault, especially one simple security measures could have prevented. While money doesn’t make everything better, it can help with bills, lost wages and medical expenses incurred from an attack. Our personal injury lawyers are here to fight for you and your family 365 days a year 24/7. Call us now at 1-800-FL-LEGAL or visit one of our nine offices across the state.
DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to provide general information to our readers. None of the information contained in this post should be construed to constitute legal or medical advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction and cases often turn on minor differences in fact. Do not rely exclusively on any of the information contained in this post. Always seek further assistance from a legal or medical professional where necessary.