Are Uber & Lyft Liable for Sexual Assault Against Rideshare Passengers?

Were You Sexually Assaulted While Ridesharing? Let Us Evaluate Your Case

Using an app or a website to hail an on-demand ride has become popular over the past decade. The concept of ridesharing has taken off more in the past five years than in the preceding five years. Uber was the first rideshare company to hit the roads. Lyft is Uber’s closest competitor. 

Since its launch, Uber has connected approximately ten billion riders with drivers. Lyft trails behind with only around one billion. Uber is the most popular rideshare company on the market.

While the app has safety features such as real-time GPS tracking and an option to share your trip with a friend, it’s not 100% safe. In fact, these two ridesharing apps have come under fire due to the high numbers of sexual assaults that occur in rideshares.

The Rising Lawsuits Against Uber and Lyft for Sexual Assault

There are many of these rideshares hails that go off without a problem. But, if you are unaware of the reports given by many passengers, it would be an excellent idea to take a moment and familiarize yourself with these incidents. 

Apparently, there are more than 6,000 passengers who report sexual assaults while in an Uber or Lyft ride. These numbers are for an astonishing two-year time frame. Lyft has not specified the number of sexual assault cases its customers have reported. They are not immune to these types of cases, though. Many are filing lawsuits against both companies for sexual assault. These suits are both in federal and state courts.

Lyft has had approximately twenty cases filed against the company in state courts. Uber has had just as many. The difference is Uber has had an equal amount of cases filed in federal courts as in state courts. Lyft has avoided any federal cases.

What is the Basis for the Lawsuits Against Uber and Lyft?

The nature of these complaints is that Uber and Lyft have been negligent in many ways. Some are in the hiring practices, supervision, retention, and more.

The complaints state that the rideshare companies held themselves out to be “safe ride” options when all along their customers were vulnerable to sexual assault. These complaints also say that Uber and Lyft are responsible for ignoring the allegations made by passengers.

The accusers are alleging the rideshare companies must be held accountable for the actions of their staff. That is, these complaints are that Uber and Lyft are held responsible for a charge called “respondeat superior.” During which they neglected stringent background checks. Plaintiffs are asking for more video surveillance in the cars and thorough background checks of drivers.

What Type of Defense do the Rideshare Companies Have?

The rideshare companies are holding their ground in stating that drivers are not employees of theirs. Instead, drivers are independent contractors, and this has been hotly contested. 

Some states have made a ruling declaring Uber and Lyft to determine the drivers as employees. In which case, the rideshare companies will be liable for what drivers do during a ride. As independent contractors, the rideshare companies are not responsible for what drivers do on the trips.

What is the Court’s Ruling? And Where are They Headed?

In the federal courts, they are ruling that the independent contractor defense is not a valid excuse. An injury attorney will better be able to assist you with your claim. Attorneys are winning cases on behalf of their clients in the federal courts. Many state courts have made similar rulings for Uber and Lyft accident injury lawyers.

Many judges are citing that the attorneys are correct in defending their clients against sexual and physical assault.  That is, it is irrelevant whether the driver works for Uber or Lyft, or if the driver is an independent contractor. 

Many attorneys are petitioning the courts for more security. These security features include stricter background checks that would flag potential drivers from getting onto the platform. These new background checks would delve deeper into the driver’s past and flag those who have cases of sexual assault against them. 

Also, many victim advocates suggest that video surveillance inside the vehicle could prevent an attack. Video surveillance means any crime will be caught on camera, deterring criminals and providing proof of the crime if they proceed anyway. If so, would more drivers be held responsible for their actions? Also, it would cite that the company will have video evidence of what happened before, during, and after the assault. Putting cameras in the rideshare cars is only one step in many that can improve the quality and safety of these rides. It is essential to note that drivers are ultimately responsible for their actions. These are not first-time offenders of sexual assault.

Many attorneys are making strides on behalf of their clients. It is important to note that these types of cases are just beginning both at the federal and state level. There is no prediction of how they will move forward. Judges are ruling in favor of the plaintiff many times. That is, there are many of these cases that have adjourned. That is, the judges decide such evidence in support of the claimants, the plaintiffs withdraw the claims, Uber accident lawyers settle, or the court sends the parties into arbitration. It is important to note that sexual assault claims against Uber and Lyft are in their infancy. For now, we will have to say courts are weighing decisions contingent with how much Uber and Lyft knew the passenger was at risk. Also, they will decide whether the companies could stop the assault.

It is essential that if an Uber or Lyft driver injures you to seek the assistance of an attorney. Judges will typically consider any complaint against ridesharing companies. You know that you have the right to be free of sexual and physical assault while on a rideshare platform. You must obtain the proper representation of your injuries. Call our rideshare accident lawyers attorneys at Accident Lawyers Firm today.