Hundreds of sexual assault survivors are planning to file lawsuits against the rideshare companies Uber and Lyft.
One California law firm representing survivors has filed 85 assault lawsuits against Uber since May. As of this writing, 321 additional cases filed by survivors are still pending. According to the lawsuits, the 85 alleged assaults occurred across multiple states between 2014 and April 2021.
The same law firm also filed more than 20 lawsuits against Lyft on behalf of survivors. Currently, 517 additional claims against Lyft are still pending.
In total, the two companies face nearly 1,000 new allegations. If successful, these lawsuits could help survivors find justice.
Are You a Survivor of Rideshare Assault?
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“Jane Does” Seek Legal Justice
In 2019, following an initial lawsuit against Uber, hundreds of women came forward with claims of rideshare assault. The filings identify the women only as “Jane Doe.” To protect the privacy of these survivors, the plaintiffs will remain anonymous.
Some details, however, have been made public. In one case from Kern County in California, the driver assaulted the victim at gunpoint. According to additional lawsuits, many other survivors were assaulted while asleep or intoxicated.
Of the hundreds of allegations brought to court, only a few have been detailed. However, some details about the sexual assaults committed by rideshare drivers have been made public:
- A Colorado woman was assaulted in an alley behind a bar by her driver. The assailant told her she deserved it because of her clothing.
- After a violent assault, a driver stalked a Georgia woman for weeks to ensure she did not report the incident.
- In San Francisco, a woman on her way home from a party was driven to an empty beach and assaulted. According to the lawsuit, the driver was still active on Uber’s app two years after the attack.
Assaulted While Using Uber or Lyft?
Learn About Steps to Take After a Rideshare Sexual Assault
Despite the many allegations, these rideshare companies have avoided a significant amount of liability. But, that may change with a new legal strategy.
Uber & Lyft Dodge Liability
Uber and Lyft have faced assault allegations for years. Most lawsuits have ended in undisclosed settlements or dismissals. The rideshare companies continue to deny liability for the assaults.
However, some law firms have used negligence claims as the foundation of recent rideshare assault lawsuits.
A negligence claim must prove the defendant failed a duty owed to the plaintiff.
Citing negligence, the lawsuits claim Uber is aware of the dangers posed to riders and has not taken the necessary steps to prevent assaults. For example, Uber does not currently require drivers to install always-on dashboard cameras. Many believe dashboard cameras would deter a significant number of rideshare assaults.
The negligence claims also contend Uber knowingly presents an image of safety, despite awareness of continued assaults. In 2019, Uber issued its US Safety Report, disclosing nearly 6,000 incidents of reported sexual assaults during a two-year time period.
The company released the report in an act of transparency. Uber also released several new safety features during this time. Despite the company’s actions, more than 100 of the assault lawsuits filed by survivors involve incidents that occurred after Uber issued its report.
According to Uber, not enough information has been presented to connect most of the assaults to the company. For those cases with a clear connection, the company claims to have banned the accused drivers.
Lyft also claims to be working on new safety features. However, Lyft has historically been much slower to act than Uber in the face of sexual assault allegations. Many have also blamed Lyft for its poor treatment of assault survivors.
Lyft issued a statement responding to these new lawsuits, noting the company is “continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers.” Lyft currently does not require drivers to install a dashboard camera.
If found liable, courts could require both companies to pay civil damages to survivors. Additionally, the companies may also face mandatory changes to business operations. These may include requiring safety devices such as cameras, microphones and emergency buttons to be installed in rideshare vehicles.
Allsup, M., Mulvaney, E. (2021, July 29). Uber Assault Suits Mount as It Tries to Calm Safety Fears. Bloomberg Law.
Baron, E. (2021, June 29). Dozens of women sue Uber claiming drivers sexually attacked them. The Mercury News.
Cooban, A. (2021, July 1). Uber and Lyft face up to 1,000 lawsuits claiming drivers sexually assaulted or harassed passengers, sometimes when the passengers were asleep. Business Insider.
Robertson, M. (2021, July 1). San Francisco law firm is investigating hundreds of sexual harassment and assault cases against Uber. SFGate.
(2019, September 30). Elements of a Negligence Case. FindLaw. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
(2021, June). Bay Area Law Firm Represents 1000 Rideshare Assault Claims. CBS SF BayArea.