For better or worse, ridesharing has almost overtaken the taxi industry. While hailing a ridesharing vehicle may be faster and cheaper than traditional cabs, passengers might not be as safe. Uber and Lyft do not use the same stringent hiring or training guidelines as traditional transportation services. Lack of safety protocols could increase riders’ risk of sexual assault.
If you have been the victim of sexual assault as the passenger of a rideshare vehicle, you are not alone. A lawyer from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can be your guide through the claims process in Illinois. Contact us to start your case with a free confidential consultation, during which we will listen to your story and answer your legal questions.
Ridesharing Sexual Assault Statistics
Due to the relatively new nature of ridesharing apps, researchers are short on information in terms of the safety of getting into an Uber or Lyft vehicle. One website, however, has kept track of all criminal incidents involving Uber and Lyft since their debuts. The public awareness campaign reveals shocking ridesharing sexual assault statistics (as of May 2019):
- 374 passengers have reported cases of sexual assault and/or harassment by rideshare drivers.
- 95 passengers have experienced alleged non-sexual assaults by Uber and Lyft drivers.
- There have been 16 alleged passenger kidnappings by Uber and Lyft drivers.
- 50 people have died in connection with Uber and Lyft criminal conduct and traffic accidents.
These are just the incidents that passengers have reported. The actual numbers of sexual assault survivors is likely much higher. Hundreds of ridesharing passengers have come forward with stories about sexual assault from drivers and fellow passengers. Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft have not taken these reports seriously enough to make any operational changes.
Why Does Rideshare Sexual Assault Happen?
The motivation for sexual assault in most cases is a desire for dominance or control. The perpetrator does not only want sexual arousal or relief – he or she wants to exert dominance over the victim. Sexual assault occurs when a perpetrator has the opportunity to take advantage of someone else. Ridesharing companies have helped provide an environment where sexual assault can occur through the following acts of negligence:
- Lax hiring procedures. Unlike traditional taxi companies, neither Uber nor Lyft checks a driver’s background beyond the past seven years. They also do not meet with drivers in person or interview them. Therefore, someone with a criminal history or driving under the influence charges could be your rideshare driver.
- Lack of driver training. Ridesharing companies do not train their drivers. They require drivers to use their smartphones while driving, but do not provide any training for how to do so without driving distracted. Uber and Lyft simply trust that people who apply are good, safe drivers according to their seven-year background checks.
- Lack of driver and rider transparency. Many sexual assault cases have involved people who were not actually Uber/Lyft drivers, or minor passengers unlawfully using rideshare apps. Yet rideshare companies have done nothing to try to ensure the identities of drivers or passengers, despite parent complaints.
Both companies claim to care about passenger safety. Uber says it is launching new safety features, including an in-app emergency button, while Lyft has real-time ride tracking. However, sexual assaults by rideshare drivers are still occurring. If you or someone you know has been the victim, you have rights.
Criminal vs. Civil Case for Sexual Assault
As the victim of sexual assault, you may think a criminal case is your only option against the perpetrator. This is not the case. As a survivor, you likely suffered physical injuries, emotional distress, mental anguish, or other damages that could qualify you to seek compensation through the civil justice system. A civil claim could give you the financial stability you need to move forward.
While a criminal case can sentence the Uber or Lyft driver to jail or probation for sexually assaulting you, a civil claim can lead to thousands of dollars in compensation for your losses. You may have grounds to file a claim not only against the assailant, but also against the rideshare company. If the company negligently failed to take steps to prevent the sexual assault, it could be liable for your damages.
Talk to a lawyer about your ridesharing sexual assault claim. Courts around the U.S. have convicted dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers for sexual assault in the past. Uber has settled two class action sexual assault lawsuits, and others are pending. You do not have to go through this alone. Partner with a sexual assault lawyer in Chicago to improve your chances of claim success.
Call (888) 424-5757 Today to Discuss Your Rideshare Sexual Assault Case
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has experience handling all types of personal injury and sexual assault lawsuits in Illinois – including spending years representing victims of rideshare sexual assault. Our firm can help you go up against Uber or Lyft in pursuit of justice and fair financial recovery. We will start your case with a free, confidential consultation at our Chicago law office. Contact us online or call (888) 424-5757 to schedule yours today.