Uber/Lyft Rideshare Sexual Assault Lawsuit
Founding Partner, Roopal Luhana, has been appointed as Co-Lead Counsel in the In Re: Uber Technologies, Inc., Passenger Sexual Assault Litigation MDL by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. We aim to not only secure rightful compensation for the survivors but also to drive systemic change in Uber’s operations to ensure such incidents are prevented in the future.
Roopal Luhana was recently featured on PIX11 NYC news to discuss the Uber Passenger Sexual Assault Litigation.
Between 2019 and 2020, rideshare company Uber received 3,824 reports of sexual assault and misconduct. In 2020 alone, the company reported 141 incidents of rape and 998 incidents of sexual assault.
Riders were the accused party 43 percent of the time. Drivers, 56 percent of the time. Women made up 81 percent of the survivors of rape, while men comprised about 15 percent.
Lyft released its first-ever safety report in October 2021, revealing that it received 4,158 reports of sexual assault between 2017 and 2019. A total of 360 of those were reports of rape. Ten people died from physical assaults that occurred on the rideshare platform over that same period.
In May 2018, Uber and Lyft both committed to releasing safety transparency reports that would disclose internal data on the most severe incidents on their platforms. Uber put out its first report in 2019. Lyft failed to follow through until 2021. Both companies have noted that 99.9 percent of their trips have no reported safety incidents.
Chaffin Luhana is currently investigating Uber and Lyft sexual assault cases in which passengers were sexually assaulted while in a rideshare vehicle. Give our experienced sexual assault attorneys a call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at (888) 480-1123.
When Should I Call an Uber Sexual Assault Lawyer?
If you were assaulted as a rider in an Uber or Lyft trip, you may feel humiliated, powerless, and like you don’t know where to turn. An Uber sexual assault lawyer can help guide you in your next steps, so you can take back your power and potentially hold those responsible liable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Most likely, there were negligent parties involved in the incident. It’s possible that the company’s background check on the driver wasn’t thorough enough. Other riders may have complained about the driver’s bad behavior, and the company may have failed to take appropriate action.
An experienced Uber sexual assault attorney will carefully investigate the incident, the company, and the individuals involved to help uncover any wrongdoing. Though you could potentially do this yourself, it involves a lot of time and resources.
You’ll want to be focused on recovering from the incident, and that’s difficult to do if you’re trying to manage an investigation, file the appropriate legal paperwork, and perform all your other daily duties at the same time.
You’re likely to need medical care and therapy after an attack, as well as financial support. You may not be able to return to work right away. An Uber sexual assault lawyer will analyze your case for you, and then let you know if filing a lawsuit will be beneficial for you.
It can be nerve-wracking to talk to someone about the experience after it happens. At Chaffin Luhana, our attorneys are thoughtful, understanding, and discreet. We offer free initial consultations, during which you can feel safe to discuss the incident in whatever detail you feel comfortable with at the time. You may find that such a discussion can help transform your situation, helping you to find the strength you need to start repairing and rebuilding your life.
What Is Considered Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault goes beyond rape and can take many forms. You may feel that if a driver fondles you, you have no case, but that may not be true. Sexual assault is a crime and includes:
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
- Forced oral sex
- Attempted rape
- Non-consensual sexual penetration (rape)
Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure, either. According to anti-sexual violence organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), “Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victi or their family or other intimidation tactics.”
What Do I Do If I’m Sexually Assaulted By An Uber Driver?
It was a normal day. You scheduled an Uber driver to get you where you needed to go. You got in the car, and later, the unthinkable happened. You were sexually assaulted.
What do you do now?
Below are the steps you should take to ensure your safety and healing, as well as to help protect your rights.
1. Call the Police
It’s normal to feel humiliated and ashamed after a sexual assault, but you must summon your courage and call the police. They will file a report on the incident, and that report is a key piece of evidence that will work in your favor in the future.
There’s no doubt that the experience will be difficult. Try to see it as something you’re doing for yourself, as that’s what it is. Once you have that police report, neither the attacker nor the rideshare company can claim that the incident wasn’t serious enough for you to call the authorities.
2. Get Medical Help
Even if you think you’re okay, seek medical care as soon as possible. Sexual assault is often physically traumatic. A doctor can help treat any injuries. He or she may also recommend the use of a rape kit if you were raped. This may be uncomfortable, but it gives medical professionals a chance to recover key evidence that can be used against the perpetrator.
Having a medical record also works in your favor if you bring criminal charges against the person who assaulted you, and/or file a personal injury lawsuit. If you don’t see a doctor, the other side may claim that you weren’t really injured or try to suggest that you invented a story for other reasons.
3. Consider a SART or SANE Exam
In cases of sexual assault, you may be asked if you’re willing to undergo a SART or SANE exam. A Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is a local group of people who coordinate responses to victims of rape or other sexual assault. The group usually consists of medical personnel, law enforcement officers, victim advocates, and others who desire to help victims.
A SART exam involves a medical check and the collection of physical evidence, which may include photos of any injuries (bruises, lacerations, tears). Once all the evidence is collected, it becomes part of a SART kit that is signed over to the police. You always have the right to refuse a SART exam or to refuse only parts of it. The evidence, however, can help fortify your case.
A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a healthcare provider who is specially trained to give complete medical attention to a sexual assault victim. This individual may collect forensic evidence and perform exams. The SANE nurse records the victim’s account of the assault and can testify at any legal proceedings.
4. Document the Incident
As soon after the assault as you can, write down what happened. Getting everything down in writing may trigger strong emotions, but it will help you recount the event in the future when you need to. Writing it down can also help in your healing. The process of writing is known by psychologists to aid and speed your recovery.
To guide your writing, here are a few specific items you’ll want to record:
- Date and time of the incident
- The location where the incident occurred
- Any details about the assailant you can remember
- Any other details about the ride or the assault that you can recall
5. Report the Incident to the Ridesharing Company
If you were assaulted as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, report the incident as soon as you can to the company. Uber has a sexual assault online page you can use, and Lyft allows you to report the incident via your account online.
6. Get Support
It’s critical that you feel supported as you work to recover from a sexual assault. You may have difficulty opening up to friends and family, though you can still accept their love and concern. A sexual assault support group is often a more comfortable place to work through the healing process. Those who have experienced similar assaults will have a better understanding of what you’re going through.
You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE to talk to a trained professional. You can also seek out sexual assault support groups in your area. Your doctor may be able to help refer you to one. There are also groups online if you feel more comfortable sharing there.
Who is Liable in an Uber or Lyft Sexual Assault?
As a victim of sexual assault in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you have two main legal options. The first is to pursue criminal charges against the driver or other passenger—whoever committed the assault. Reporting the incident to local law enforcement may lead to criminal charges against the offender.
The second is to file a civil lawsuit. If you and your sexual assault attorney decide that you may be able to recover compensation for your damages, you can sue your assailant and/or the responsible rideshare company. Uber and Lyft are already facing several sexual assault lawsuits in which the plaintiffs claim that the company failed to protect riders and/or mishandled assault allegations.
If you file a civil lawsuit and you are successful, you may win compensation to help pay for assault-related expenses like medical bills, therapy costs, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Are Rideshare Sexual Assault Lawsuits Complex?
Companies like Uber and Lyft do not hire drivers as employees. Instead, they consider them independent contractors.
By doing so, they protect themselves to a certain extent from liability. Under a legal theory called “vicarious liability,” they cannot be sued for sexual assault because the company cannot be held responsible for the actions of its drivers. Because the drivers are contractors, they are independently responsible for the crimes they commit.
However, Uber and Lyft may be held liable for negligence of various types. Current lawsuits against these companies allege that they were negligent in the following ways:
- They have negligent hiring practices
- They were negligent in providing the proper supervision
- They negligently retained a driver when there were indications they should have dismissed them
- They negligently inflicted emotional distress on the victim
An experienced sexual assault attorney will know how to hold these companies responsible in certain cases. If the attorney can prove that the company was negligent in some way, a sexual assault victim may be able to win compensation to help them recover.
You may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the driver or other perpetrator, individually. This can be satisfying in that if you win your case, you will have held the individual accountable. Depending on the driver’s insurance policy limits, however, it may be difficult to recover the compensation you need to manage your expenses.
That’s why it’s often advantageous to sue the company as well if you have the evidence you need to prove them negligent. Your sexual assault attorney can help you determine if you may be eligible for such a case.
How to Find a Professional Lyft Sexual Assault Attorney?
Finding a skilled sexual assault attorney who can help you seek financial compensation can seem daunting. There are a lot of attorneys out there. There are certain steps you can take, though, that will help ensure you find one who will fight for your rights.
1. Look for Experience
There are many lawyers with experience in personal injury law, but you’ll want one with specific experience handling sexual assault cases—preferably, rideshare sexual assault cases. Such an individual will understand the complex nature of these cases and will know what is needed to make a successful case.
Check the attorney’s track record and reviews. If you schedule a free consultation, ask about other cases like yours that the attorney has handled.
2. Ask About Court Experience
Many personal injury lawyers have never taken a case to court. That’s because most personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court. Your sexual assault case may be too, but you’ll still want someone who has experience as a trial attorney.
Such an individual will not back down simply to avoid the complication of a court trial. That person will do everything possible to secure the compensation you deserve. They will also have the clout you need to negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf.
3. Do They Have the Resources?
Most sexual assault attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means they won’t charge you for their time unless they win your case. Meanwhile, they need to have sufficient resources to secure expert witnesses, research and investigate your case, and gather the evidence needed.
Look for a firm that you know will be able to do everything necessary to prepare your case, and that won’t be limited because they don’t have the connections or financial resources to do so.
4. Look for Compassion
Sexual assault cases are particularly personal and traumatic. Your attorney must be able to manage communications with you in an empathetic and compassionate way. If it seems like they are brushing over your concerns or are not listening to you, that’s a red flag. Look for someone who genuinely cares about your well-being.
Tips for Staying Safe When Using Uber or Lyft
A sexual assault is never your fault. It’s important to hold any negligent parties responsible for their part in the incident.
As ridesharing has become more popular across the country, however, there has been an increased awareness of safety concerns. Uber and Lyft both have safety policies in place, such as background checks and mandatory training for drivers, but sometimes these steps don’t go far enough to ensure passenger safety.
When using either of these services, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Check the driver’s rating and reviews on your rideshare app to be sure you feel comfortable
- Wait for your driver inside where you are safe if possible
- Let your friends and family know that you’re taking a rideshare trip—you can use your mobile app to share driver and trip data
- Always ask the driver who they are picking up before you get into the car—then confirm the driver’s name as well as the make and model of the car
- Avoid traveling alone when you can—groups are safer; if you’re alone, ride in the back seat
- Do not share any personal information with the driver
- If you feel something is “off,” or just don’t feel comfortable, don’t get into the car, even if it creates an inconvenience—your safety comes first
Uber and Lyft Sexual Assault Lawsuits
Uber and Lyft are already facing lawsuits from passengers who claim they were assaulted by drivers on the platform. Some of these cases have already been settled.
In June 2022, Lyft agreed to a $25 million settlement with shareholders over allegations that it failed to adequately disclose threats to its reputation and business ahead of going public. According to CNN, the misstatements and omissions include not disclosing the “existential risk” presented by reports of drivers assaulting passengers on the platform.
In July 2022, USA Today reported that Uber was being sued over 550 sexual assault claims, with plaintiffs alleging sexual assault and other types of attacks at the hands of drivers. The civil action suit was filed in the San Franciso County Superior Court and included claims from women in multiple states.
If you or a loved one was injured in an Uber or Lyft accident and you’re struggling to manage your expenses, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. Chaffin Luhana is now investigating these cases and invites you to call today at phone number.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a lawyer if I’m a victim of rideshare sexual assault?
It depends on your situation. If you report the incident to the police, they may investigate and move forward with criminal prosecution. If that happens, you may or may not need a lawyer, as the prosecuting attorney will investigate and potentially charge the assailant.
If you are dealing with a lot of expenses as a result of the incident, however, or if the police decide not to pursue criminal charges, you may want to file a civil lawsuit. Whereas a criminal case seeks to hold the individual responsible for a crime, a civil lawsuit seeks to collect damages.
Your sexual assault lawyer will look at the individual and the organization they worked for to see if they were liable or partially liable for the assault, with the goal of recovering damages for you. A civil case can also help you feel that justice has been done and that the liable parties were held responsible.
How long do I have to file an Uber sexual assault lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
In general, Pennsylvania law requires that you file a sexual assault lawsuit within two years of when the incident took place.
New laws, however, have expanded the rules. A 2019 revision allows victims of child sexual abuse to file civil actions until they reach 55 years of age. It also extends the right to sue those abused between the ages of 18 and 24 until the age of 30.
These changes are not retroactive and do not apply to cases that occurred before 2019.
How many sexual assaults happen with Uber?
According to Uber’s second U.S. safety report, released in 2022, there were 998 sexual assault incidents, including 141 rape reports.
How much is an Uber sexual assault settlement?
The total settlement amount always depends on the case. Compensation varies depending on the evidence presented, the severity of the injuries, and how they will affect your life going forward. If the assault caused long-lasting physical damage and affected your ability to do your job, for instance, the amount would likely be more than if you did not suffer physical harm. Your sexual assault attorney can give you an idea of what you may be able to recover in a civil case.