Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have become extremely popular in Houston and throughout the US. Unfortunately, the reports of ridesharing sexual assault cases have also increased. Ridesharing sexual assault frequently involves an Uber or Lyft driver committing sexual abuse against a passenger. The sexual assault survivor may have a right to compensation through a civil lawsuit against the driver and/or Lyft or Uber in these situations.
Contact a Ridesharing Sexual Assault Attorney
If you or a loved one have been sexually assaulted during a rideshare accident, we recommend contacting an attorney as soon as possible. The personal injury attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC understand how devastating the long-term impacts of sexual assault can be. We fight hard for victims of ridesharing sexual assault to obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Sexual Assault During Rideshares Are Far Too Common
It’s difficult to know an accurate number of how many rideshare sexual assaults occur because many of them are unreported. In October 2021, Lyft published its 2020 safety report where they reported that over 4,000 instances of sexual assault had occurred during Lyft rideshares between 2017 and 2019. The report also showed that sexual assault had increased from around 1,100 cases in 2017 to 1800 cases in 2019.
At the end of 2019, Uber provided their first safety report. At that time, they stated that they had received over 6,000 sexual assault reports in the United States between 2017 and 2018. Uber’s report indicated that rideshare drivers accounted for roughly half of the individuals accused of sexual assault. Public awareness related to rideshare sexual assault has increased, and Uber and Lyft have stated that they are trying to reduce the number of sexual assaults, so passengers feel safe. Unfortunately, sexual assaults in rideshare vehicles continue to occur.
What to Do After a Ridesharing Sexual Assault
Surviving a rideshare sexual assault can be a shocking and traumatizing experience. Knowing what actions to take can be difficult. After the incident, it’s wise to seek medical treatment and report the incident to the police. Prosecutors may decide to bring criminal charges against the perpetrator. Sexual assault isn’t the only type of sex crime that Texas recognizes. Several different sex crimes range from sexual battery to stalking that could be involved in your ride-sharing case.
Criminal charges are separate from a civil lawsuit that a sexual assault survivor can bring against the perpetrator. Whether or not the court convicts the defendant of sexual assault, the victim may have a right to pursue a separate case against the perpetrator for financial compensation. After receiving medical treatment and reporting the incident to the police, we recommend discussing your case with an attorney. One of the skilled attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC can help you determine whether you’re eligible for compensation for your medical expenses, mental anguish, post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional distress, legal fees, and more.
Can I Sue Uber or Lyft After Being Sexually Assaulted?
Victims of rideshare sexual assault may have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who injured them and/or Uber or Lyft. In most cases, bringing a lawsuit against the company is more advantageous. Uber and Lyft are large companies with greater resources for personal injury claims.
Multiple sexual assault survivors have stepped forward to bring civil lawsuits against these rideshare companies in recent months. Most of the lawsuits that sexual assault survivors brought to Uber and Lyft involved the legal theory of negligent hiring or negligent supervision. Employers have a legal responsibility to use reasonable care when hiring employees.
When employers fail to use reasonable care, and a customer or third party becomes injured, the injured party can bring a lawsuit against the employer through the legal theory of vicarious liability. Depending on the facts in your case, you may be able to make several different legal arguments, such as:
- The rideshare company failed to protect consumers
- The rideshare company allowed dangerous drivers to get behind the wheel
- The rideshare company failed to undergo appropriate background checks
Uber’s $32 Million Sexual Assault Class Action Settlement
In 2017, Uber agreed to pay a class action settlement of 32.5 million dollars. Uber charges passengers a “Safe Riders” fee. They advertise that they use industry-leading background checks for their drivers to keep passengers safe. However, Uber used a private third-party company to do these background checks. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed that the background checks were “woefully inadequate” to keep passengers safe.
Uber must change the “safe rides” fee to “booking fee” in their app. This settlement demonstrates serious problems with Uber’s background check procedure for drivers. Victims of sexual assault may have a right to bring a legal claim against Uber for negligently employing drivers by failing to investigate their backgrounds thoroughly for red flags.
The Definition of Sexual Assault in Texas
Under Texas law, sexual assault involves intentionally and knowingly committing a sexual act against a person without consent. The Texas sexual assault law list several different sexual activities that can be considered sexual assault if a person doesn’t give his or her knowledge and free consent to the sexual activity. When a perpetrator physically restrains someone, uses physical violence, threatens to use violence, or coerces the person into sexual activities, it is considered sexual assault. The following actions, when done without the other person’s consent, are considered sexual assault in Texas:
- Contact between a person’s sexual organ with the mouth, sexual organ, or anus of another
- Penetration of the mouth
- Penetration of the sexual organ or anus
Schedule a Free Consultation With Ceja Law Firm PLLC
Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their passengers. When Uber and Lyft negligently hire dangerous drivers who commit sexual assault, the survivors can hold them accountable through a personal injury lawsuit. If you or your loved one have been sexually assaulted, contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation.