Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit: A Growing Concern
Ride-hailing services, especially giants like Uber, have transformed how we think about personal transportation. But with innovation comes responsibility – and unfortunately, not all responsibilities have been met with the care they deserve. This article delves into the pressing issue of sexual assaults connected with Uber rides, the lawsuits against the company, and the critical legal support survivors can seek through esteemed legal firms like Nigh Goldenberg Raso and Vaughn.
Uber, the ride-hailing giant, has revolutionized the transportation industry. However, with its massive global presence, the company has come under scrutiny due to a series of sexual assault allegations against its drivers. Uber sexual assault has become a significant issue, raising concerns over the safety of passengers, particularly women. A Closer Look at the Issue
The allegations against Uber drivers range from sexual harassment to rape, and the company faces numerous lawsuits for these crimes. The plaintiffs argue that Uber’s negligent hiring practices and lack of adequate safety measures have allowed these incidents to occur.
The following sections will delve deeper into the issue, providing a comprehensive overview of the situation, the legal actions taken against Uber, and the company’s response.
Uber’s Hiring Practices Under Fire
Critics argue that Uber’s hiring practices need to be more stringent to ensure passenger safety. The company’s background checks for prospective drivers only go back seven years, and there needs to be an interview process in place before hiring. This lax approach to hiring has raised several red flags, with critics accusing Uber of endangering passengers by allowing potentially dangerous individuals to become drivers.
When a passenger survives to sexual assault due to the negligence of Uber in its hiring practices, they may be entitled to compensation. Depending on the circumstances, they can bring a lawsuit against Uber or the individual perpetrator.
Understanding Sexual Assault
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines sexual assault as a sexual act committed or attempted by another person without the survivor’s consent. Sexual assault can take many forms, including but not limited to:
- Unwanted kissing
- Unwanted touching
- Attempted rape
- Rape that includes penetration of another’s body or forcing someone to penetrate another’s body
- Non-consensual forced acts, such as oral sex
- Unwanted exposure to pornography
- Verbal or behavioral sexual harassment
Sexual assault always involves an element of force, which may not necessarily be physical. Verbal threats, manipulation, or coercion can also constitute force.
The Legal Recourse for Uber Sexual Assault
If an Uber driver has sexually assaulted you, you have the right to take legal action against the company. Legal action would mainly center on Uber’s negligent hiring practices that put you in harm’s way.
If a jury finds that deficiencies in Uber’s security policies allowed a dangerous person to transport passengers, the company can be held liable for compensation. The driver responsible for the assault can also be held personally accountable.
In any lawsuit filed against Uber, the primary element is negligence. To establish negligence and assign fault, the following factors need to be proven:
- Uber owed a duty of care to a client.
- There was a breach of that duty.
- The breach of duty directly caused harm to a person.
- The person suffered actual damages as a result of the incident.
Uber and other ride-sharing companies like Lyft treat their drivers as independent contractors instead of actual employees. As a result, these companies cannot be sued under the legal theory of vicarious liability, which says that a company cannot be held responsible for the actions of its drivers.
The Role of Personal Injury Attorneys
Personal injury attorneys play an essential role in holding ride-sharing companies accountable for sexual assaults committed by their drivers. These attorneys argue that the company is legally obligated to implement safety practices to recruit, train, and retain qualified and safe drivers.
By proving that the company failed to meet legal requirements during the hiring process, an attorney can hold them liable for the sexual assault. If the liability of Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare company for the sexual assault can be proven, their insurance coverage would come into play.
The Prevalence of Sexual Assault in Uber Rides
Sexual misconduct by Uber drivers is more common than one might think. According to a safety report released by Uber in 2019, there were reports of non-consensual touching of sexual body parts in one out of every 800,000 completed trips.
The daily average of 3.1 million trips completed in the United States in 2017 and 2018 translates to an average of almost four incidents per day. In Uber’s 2017-2018 US Safety Report, Uber noted that they had received 5,981 reports of sexual assault.
Uber noted that the recent drop of sexual assaults occurring in Ubers (5,981 sexual assaults v. 3,842 sexual assaults), ‘may have been impacted by a number of factors, including how the Covid-19 pandemic altered usage of the platform as well as Uber’s safety and transparency efforts.” In Uber’s most recent safety report, Uber noted that 80,000 drivers have been removed from the app as a result of continued background checks.
Uber’s Definition of Sexual Assault
According to their 2019 US Safety Report, Uber partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Urban Institute to develop a classification system to clarify categories of unwanted sexual incidents.
For an incident to be included as an Uber-related sexual assault in their research, one or both of the following scenarios must apply:
- The alleged misconduct happened during an active Uber-facilitated trip.
- The assault took place between people who had been paired by the Uber app, and it occurred within 48 hours of the trip’s completion.
The company uses the following five categories for sexual assault:
- Non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part
- Non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part
- Non-consensual touching of a sexual body part
- Attempted non-consensual penetration
- Non-consensual sexual penetration
Support for survivors of Uber Sexual Assault
If you have been a survivor of sexual assault by an Uber driver, there are resources available for help. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is a confidential service you can call to discuss what happened with a trained professional. They can assist you in reporting your claim to law enforcement and connecting you with local resources that support sexual assault survivors.
Uber Lawsuits: A Snapshot
Uber is currently facing a large number of lawsuits from customers who have been sexually assaulted while riding in an Uber. The company is facing hundreds of lawsuits in California state court alone. The allegations made in these lawsuits range from kidnapping, sexual assaults, sexual battery, rape, false imprisonment, stalking, harassment, or other attacks by an Uber driver.
The Question of Safety in Ubers
Uber states on their website that 99.9% of trips in 2019 and 2020 ended without any safety incident, such as sexual assault. However, when viewed as individual incidents, the number of sexual assaults that occur in an Uber is startling.
A review of Uber’s 2019-2020 US Safety Report indicates that Uber received 3,842 reports of the five most severe categories of sexual assault. These ranged from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration,” or rape.
Uber Does Not Report Sexual Assault To Police
Officials in Santa Clara County, California have argued that Uber should be reporting sexual assaults to the police. However, Uber has cited to advocacy group guidelines in their decision to not report sexual assaults occurring in Ubers to the police. Uber argued that survivors should be in control of when and how to disclose their experiences. The assistant district attorney for Santa Clara County stated that, “Uber receives a complaint, investigates the complaint, makes a finding and handles said findings internally and privately” and that “Uber has essentially carved out its own justice system.” The assistant district attorney estimated that Uber was aware of 60 sexual assault incidents in the county, yet only one Uber driver had been prosecuted.
The California Public Utilities Commission’s Settlement With Uber
After the release of Uber’s 2019-2020 US Safety Report revealed a large number of sexual assaults in Ubers, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requested data on such sexual assaults arising in Uber passenger vehicles. However, Uber failed to respond to CPUC’s request for data on the sexual assaults experienced in Ubers. As a result of Uber refusing to provide data on the sexual assaults that occurred in Ubers, CPUC fined Uber for $59 million. CPUC later settled with Uber for just $9 million for failure to respond to CPUC Rulings requesting information regarding sexual assaults and harassments. Furthermore, Uber agreed to “provide information on sexual assault and harassment to the CPUC on a going forward basis.”
Legal Assistance for survivors of Uber Sexual Assault
If you have been sexually assaulted while in an Uber, legal assistance is available. Experienced attorneys can provide guidance and support as you navigate the legal process. They can help you hold the responsible parties accountable and seek the compensation you deserve.
It is worth noting that statutes of limitations may apply depending on the level of sexual assault you experienced. If you wait beyond the allowable period, you may lose your right to pursue justice through a civil suit.
The issue of Uber sexual assault is a pressing concern that demands attention. While Uber has taken steps to improve passenger safety, the number of sexual assault allegations and lawsuits against the company indicates that more needs to be done.
As a passenger, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks and to take steps to protect yourself. If you have been a survivor of sexual violence at the hands of an Uber driver, remember, you are not alone. There are resources and legal options available to help you seek justice.
At Nigh Goldenberg Raso & Vaughn, we are committed to providing reliable and accurate information to support survivors of sexual assault and abuse. We provide educational content reviewed by a group of experts and are dedicated to fighting for clients and making the world safer through law.
Uber Sexual Assault Attorney
If you have been sexually assaulted while in an Uber, contact our Uber sexual assault attorneys today. Call 612-424-9900 or fill out our web form for a free consultation if you have been sexually assaulted while in an Uber.