Rideshare companies, like Lyft, have become a lifeline for people. These services offer a safe ride home after a night out or an alternative to public transportation. But, reports of sexual assault have littered headlines for the last few years.
In early December 2019, 19 women and one man filed a lawsuit against the rideshare app, Lyft, Inc. The complaint alleges the company does not do enough to prevent physical and sexual attacks against users.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs state they were sexually assaulted during Lyft rides. The company maintains it continually invests in new policies and features to protect drivers and riders alike.
Plaintiffs Seek Financial and Physical Damages
The plaintiffs are seeking damages related to medical expenses and mental suffering. In such cases, the courts can order defendants to cover a number of costs for the plaintiffs. Some of the most common costs include the following:
- A defendant may pay the cost of emergency room visits.
- A defendant may pay the cost of psychological therapy.
- A defendant may pay the cost of future medical treatment related to the incident.
Lyft Skirts Liability in Sexual Assault Cases
Lyft claims it is actively confronting assault cases occurring during rideshares. The company publicized new safety protocols to support its commitment to passengers. However, the safety protocols enacted have not ended sexual assaults reported to the company.
Additionally, Lyft questions its liability in the matter. The company denies its responsibility for crimes that occur outside of the scope of its employment relationship with drivers. Lyft states its drivers are independent contractors. Thus, the company does not assume employer liability for negligence and other civil matters.
Users filing lawsuits attribute this attitude to an ongoing problem at the company level. Lyft appears to support victims for public goodwill while sidestepping liability accusations.
Multiple Lawsuits Prompt Consolidation for Pre-Trial Proceedings
Users filed numerous assault lawsuits across the state of California. With so many lawsuits filed, Superior Court Judge Kenneth Freeman granted a consolidation.
Judge Freeman cited San Francisco as the best venue to handle the coordinated litigation effort. Reasons for the decision to join cases in San Francisco include:
- San Francisco is home to Lyft’s headquarters.
- The majority of witnesses and documents are located in San Francisco.
How Lyft Sexual Assault Victims Can Respond
Lyft and other rideshare companies like Uber are facing sexual assault lawsuits across the country. Many petitions are being filed after the company did not follow-up on complaints.
Victims of sexual assault should report the attack to local law enforcement officials as soon as possible. Police and detectives can then file a formal report. Individuals can also start legal documentation for retribution of their financial and physical losses.
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Lyft, Inc. (2019, May 21). Continuing Our Investment in Safety.
Lyft, Inc. (2019, November 27). Lyft Terms of Service.
Mulvaney, E. (2020, March 2). Uber, Lyft Talk Responsibility on Assaults but Deny in Court. Bloomberg Law.
Schaller, J., Spear, E. (2020, February 10). Lyft Sexual Assault Claims Consolidated for Pre-Trial Proceedings. The National Law Review.
Vigliotti, J. (2019, December 4). Passengers sue Lyft claiming they were sexually assaulted by drivers. CBS News.
Young, S. D. (2019, December 5). Twenty women sue Lyft, citing sexual assault response shortcomings. ConsumerAffairs.