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Uber & Lyft Lawsuits - Sexual and Physical Assaults

Last Updated: August 10, 2021

Companies like Uber and Lyft have – seemingly overnight – have changed the way millions of us think about getting around towns and cities. As pioneers of so-called ride-hailing – or ridesharing – apps, these companies have revolutionized the idea of taxis, introducing new business models that promise a smarter, more efficient, and cheaper deal for the customer. However, despite the advantages, with the new business model for the ridesharing industry comes many concerns about the safety of passengers.

There have been concerns over a huge number of assaults on passengers. Uber’s long-awaited safety report in 2019 showed that passengers (and some drivers) reported almost 6,000 cases of sexual assault across 2017 and 2018. Those figures are for Uber in the United States alone. Uber and Lyft operate around the world, and many non-American companies, like Ola (India/Australia) and Didi (China), have also had issues with drivers assaulting passengers.

Uber Lyft Lawsuit

While there are various ridesharing companies operating around the world, what links them regarding physical and sexual assault is the fact that assaults are happening – and victims, authorities and campaign groups are unsatisfied with the response to the wave of sexual attacks. Today, however, survivors of sexual assault related to the ridesharing experience are taking a tougher stance, fighting back against companies like Uber and Lyft. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the companies, and specialist Uber assault law firms are calling for more people to come forward to secure justice and compensation if they have been assaulted in a rideshare vehicle.

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Uber Lawsuit News & Updates

  • One Californian law firm has over 800 sexual assault cases involving either Uber or its main rival, Lyft. The cases are at various stages of progression, but well over 100 have been filed in court as of July 1st, 2021.
  • Uber was recently fined $9 million by the Californian Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for its refusal to hand over data relating to sexual assaults against its passengers and, in some cases, its own drivers.
  • In March 2021, Uber and Lyft agreed to share information on drivers accused of assault. The companies agreed to work with screening company HireRight to stop drivers banned from one ridesharing company from working for the other.
  • Highlighting the potential dangers for drivers as well as passengers, an Uber driver was stabbed to death in California in July 2021.

Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits

Sexual assaults often go unreported. For example, a study by the DOJ in 2016 estimated that around four out of every five rapes and sexual assaults are not reported to the police. So, even though pressure has been put on ridesharing companies to release data of assaults, it is safe to assume from a statistical standpoint that many Uber passengers have experienced sexual assault and have not reported it to the authorities. As such, rideshare sexual assault lawyers are calling for survivors to come forward and get the justice they deserve.

Sexual Assaults Breakdown By Party

According to NPR drivers are more likely to be the accused party of sexual assault and riders are more likely to be the reporting party of sexual assault. We have to remember that many victims do not report.

Rideshare Sexual Assaults Statistics

Accused PartyReporting Party

Uber Sexual Harassment

Critics of Uber have long held that its hiring policy, lack of driver training and allegedly poor oversight of its drivers’ conduct was always going to be a recipe for disaster. While Uber claims its vetting process is rigorous, critics maintain the company does not do enough to ensure its drivers are properly trained and that the company washes its hands of its drivers’ behavior. It’s become all too common for women to detail cases of sexual harassment and other inappropriate conduct on social media. Sexual harassment has long dogged Uber, even at the executive level. In 2017, the company was forced to fire 20 employees over a toxic workplace culture, which included 100s of allegations of sexual harassment.

Rideshare Sexual Assault Types

Sexual assault is a broad term to describe a multitude of possible acts that are considered criminal. Some of the types of rideshare sexual assaults are listed below:

  • Nonconsensual touching of a sexual body part (vagina, breasts, penis, etc.).
  • Nonconsensual fondling or groping of a nonsexual body part.
  • Nonconsensual kissing of a sexual body part.
  • Nonconsensual kissing of a nonsexual body part.
  • Nonconsensual penetration.
  • Attempted nonconsensual penetration.
  • Forcing a person to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex.
  • Drug-facilitated sexual assault, i.e., the performing of a sexual act after the deliberate incapacitation of a person.
  • Any sexual act involving someone under the legal age, as defined by the state.

The above list is not exhaustive. Additionally, it does not take into account other acts that could be considered sex crimes, such as indecent exposure, sexual harassment, distribution of pornographic material, and so on. In addition, campaigners like RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) stress that consent may vary by location and circumstance. Sexual assault can, therefore, occur when people feel coerced or bullied into doing something they would not otherwise agree to do.

 If you believe you have been subject to a sexual assault in a rideshare vehicle, you should contact an Uber sexual assault lawyer. Free and impartial advice is available on your case, and you can start by filling out a simple evaluation form.

Uber Physical Assault Lawsuits

Not all assaults on rideshare journeys are sexual. Physical violence is all too common, and it’s something that endangers both drivers and passengers. One 2020 survey from Uber drivers showed that 53% believed the company must do more to ensure driver safety. Worryingly, the same survey said that 22% of Uber drivers felt compelled to carry a weapon when on duty. But passengers are also in danger. In 2019, for example, a Seattle resident, Brian Gorme, sued Uber for negligence for the hiring of Sharif Soajima (AKA Timothy Clark). Soajima, who had previous convictions for assault and armed robbery, stabbed Gorme in the abdomen after a 2017 Uber ride. Anyone who has been assaulted physically during an Uber ride is urged to contact an Uber assault lawyer to see if they are eligible for compensation.

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If you believe that you were harmed by Uber or another rideshare service, we can help you fight for your rights and compensation.

Uber History

Founded in 2009, Uber revolutionized the idea of urban transport. The concept was that drivers would be independent contractors, using Uber’s ride-hailing app to pick up and drop off passengers like a taxi service. While many hailed Uber’s model as smarter and more efficient than traditional transportation models, the company has faced many criticisms. For instance, the system of having independent contractors as drivers – and not employees – was seen as a means for Uber to sidestep certain employment rights. More importantly, when it came to passenger safety, critics wondered whether Uber’s independent contractor model allowed Uber to escape accountability for drivers’ actions, including crimes like assault.

Uber

Uber has grown to become a global corporation in the last dozen years. It offers more than ridesharing, incorporating logistics, food delivery and courier services. While there is competition from the likes of Lyft, Uber enjoys a 71% market share of ridesharing in the United States. But as it has grown, so too has the scrutiny and the criticism of the company. From workplace culture to drivers’ rights to passenger safety, some campaigners say Uber falls short. The Uber sexual assault lawsuits are part of that. They are not just interested in securing compensation and justice for sexual assault survivors – they are about ensuring that one of the world’s biggest brands is held accountable and makes the necessary changes so that its millions of passengers are kept safe now and in the future.

Uber Driver Background Checks

Uber performs background checks on its drivers before hiring them. This includes a criminal background check and scrutiny of the drivers’ licensing status. It states clearly that any “serious criminal convictions [including sexual assault] will result in disqualification”. Since 2018, Uber has started a policy of “continuous” background checks on its drivers.

However, comforting that is, Uber’s current background check policy came after years of criticism. In 2018, for instance, an investigation found that thousands of convicted felons were driving for Uber. One driver, Talal Chammout, had a string of convictions, including firearm offenses. As CNN reported, a simple internet search could have provided that vital information on Chammout. Nevertheless, he was hired by the company in 2015. Three months later, Chammout followed a female passenger into her home and committed a sexual assault. Chammout is now serving 25 years in prison.

Uber Safety Report

In 2019, Uber released a long-awaited safety report covering the company’s activity from 2017-2018. It uncovered 1000s of reports of sexual assault, mostly committed against passengers but also drivers in a small number of cases. The Uber Safety Report became national news, with critics contending that Uber had not done enough to ensure passengers (and drivers) enjoyed safe trips. Uber claimed that the sexual assaults represented only a tiny percentage of its journeys (the data covered over three billion trips). Despite this, Uber agreed to bring in new policies. This included sexual misconduct training for drivers and a partnership with RAINN to offer an Uber Survivor Support Hotline. Both of these policies were implemented in 2020.

However, as stated earlier, the majority of sexual assaults go unreported. And it’s extremely likely that the real number of Uber sexual assault cases is much greater than the 6,000 reported across 2017 and 2018. Moreover, the company has been operating rideshare services for 12 years – equaling billions of trips. Anyone who has experienced a sexual assault in an Uber vehicle or by an Uber driver is urged to come forward and speak with a rideshare sexual assault attorney.

Rideshare Lawsuit FAQ

What is the Uber sexual assault lawsuit?

According to its own safety report, Uber admits 1000s of passengers have been sexually assaulted when using its service. The company has been operating for 12 years, and many more passengers are coming forward to report a sexual or physical assault by an Uber driver.

Why is Uber being sued by passengers?

Uber is being sued by passengers who contend that the company did not do enough to ensure their safety, particularly through its scrutiny of drivers. Thousands of passengers have been sexually assaulted on Uber journeys, and the company, claimants believe, could have done more to protect them. 

How many sexual assaults have occurred during Uber rides?

The number of Uber ride sexual assaults is unknown, simply due to the fact that the vast majority of sex crimes go unreported. Uber itself reported around 6,000 cases across 2017-2018, but the true number is likely to be much higher.

How many passengers have been physically assaulted during Uber rides?

It is not clear how many physical assaults have occurred on Uber rides, but many passengers as well as drivers have reported physical assaults, including stabbings.

What is the statute of limitations on Uber sexual assaults?

The statute of limitations on sexual assault, i.e., the maximum amount of time that can elapse before legal proceedings are initiated, differs from state to state. But many states have statutes of limitations over ten years for serious sex crimes. You can find the full details on time limits of every state on RAINN’s website.

How much is the average settlement for sexual assault cases involving Uber?

Each sexual assault case is unique and, therefore, the level of compensation can differ substantially. But passengers have sued Uber for large amounts in sexual assault cases, including a Washington D.C resident who sued the company for $10 million in 2019.

Is The Uber Lawsuit A Class Action or A Mass Tort?

The Uber sexual assault lawsuit is still at a relatively early stage. While 1000s of cases have been reported, many are waiting to be filed in courts. Moreover, it is hoped that more Uber sexual assault survivors come forward to secure justice.

However, the Uber lawsuit will not be a class-action lawsuit. This type of lawsuit occurs when many people have the same grievance against a company or individual. Each Uber sexual assault case is a serious crime, and each is unique.

Survivors, therefore, will be due different levels of compensation depending on the nature of their case. One way of achieving this is through a mass tort case. In a mass tort case, the plaintiff brings individual cases against the defendant (in this case, Uber). But the cases are linked together in the courts, with lawyers sharing evidence and other details as warranted. This would allow for more efficient handling of the Uber lawsuits in the courts rather than judges hearing 1000s of individual cases.

Uber Lawsuit Compensation

Despite being a relatively new company, Uber has a long history of paying out compensation claims to passengers and employees. By 2016, the company had already paid out $161 million in different lawsuits. And in 2019, it made a $1.9 million payout to its own employees (non-drivers) in a sexual harassment class-action lawsuit.

As for individual payouts in rideshare assault cases, it depends on various factors. Some law firms maintain that sexual assault survivors who meet the criteria can expect $100,000 in compensation from a successful case. Depending on the severity of the assault, Uber lawsuit payouts could reach millions for an individual.

Uber Lawsuit Settlements and Payouts

Before 2018, Uber often settled sexual assault cases out of court. This means that Uber had come to an agreement with the claimant and agreed to pay a sum of money, without going through a trial. Often, the amount of money paid to the claimants was undisclosed, as was the case with two California women who sued the company after being sexually assaulted by Uber drivers in 2016.

Since 2018, Uber has allowed drivers and passengers to pursue sexual assault claims in open court. It’s possible that Uber can still settle cases with individuals, of course, but the change in policy in 2018 has led to more transparency and, hopefully, more assault survivors coming forward to get compensation.

Lyft Lawsuit Settlement

While Uber is the dominant player in the ridesharing industry, it should not be forgotten that Lyft also has a large market share. And, indeed, Lyft faces its own series of sexual assault lawsuits by (mostly) female passengers. Last January, the Associated Press was reporting that Lyft’s “Good Guy” image had been “tainted” by the series of sexual assault lawsuits. Lyft has been operating since 2012, and anyone who has experienced a sexual assault during a Lyft ride is urged to come forward and speak to a rideshare assault law firm to evaluate the possibility of securing compensation.

Rideshare Safety Tips

One of the often-overlooked issues with ridesharing apps is that the vehicles used are unmarked, everyday cars, without company signs and branding. As such, anyone can pretend to be an Uber or Lyft driver. This was recorded in the harrowing case of Samantha Josephson, who was murdered by a fake Uber driver after mistaking his car for her booked ride in 2019. Obviously, you should check that the car that arrives is the one you have ordered – simply look at the booking reference and check the license plate, make and model of the car. Uber sets out some other rideshare safety tips such as:

  • Limit the amount of time outdoors waiting for your ride. The app should tell you when your driver is close by.
  • If worried about the identity of the driver (beyond looking at their credentials), ask them to confirm your name as they would have access to this info when you made the booking. If they can’t confirm your name, assume they are bogus and don’t enter the vehicle.
  • Sit in the back seat and always wear your seatbelt.
  • Share your trip details with friends and family.
  • Give feedback about the trip. Uber now has 24/7 support. If there is a safety issue you are concerned about, you can report it.

For more safety tips and to report an incident please enter: Uber’s US Safety Report

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© Copyright Jazz Media Ltd. 2021. All rights reserved

About us

We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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