Sexual assaults are prevalent among rideshares, and more people are coming out accusing drivers and passengers of sexual assault. Growing up, we were taught never to get into a stranger’s car, but now people all across the country call strangers to pick them up using apps on their phones.
Lyft and Uber are leading the way for rideshare services and heavily promote how safe these rides are, but there are some dirty secrets these companies refuse to discuss. If you are in South Florida and are assaulted in a rideshare, you must immediately speak with our Fort Lauderdale sexual assault lawyers.
The number of fake rideshare drivers is increasing
Fake rideshare drivers are an increasing trend. When you ask for a ride, you must verify your driver’s identity for your own safety. There may be instances where drivers pretend to be working for Uber and Lyft and are instead kidnapping and raping riders. A man in the Keys was posing as a driver in order to sexually assault women. In the Keys case, the man had the rideshare logo on his vehicle and pulled up to a woman waiting for a ride. She got into the car, having never used that rideshare app before.
Unbeknownst to her, the driver did not work for any rideshare company and had nefarious intentions, attempting to sexually assault her. After fighting her attacker, the driver dropped her off at her home where she contacted law enforcement. The case is still under investigation, and officials expect other victims to come forward. Unfortunately, the Keys incident is not the only case of fake rideshare drivers.
Uber and Lyft are facing lawsuits for sexual assault and act of violence
Uber is facing allegations from hundreds of women of sexual assault, acts of violence, and kidnapping by their drivers. The company claims to take these allegations seriously but has not yet reviewed them. In their latest safety report, Uber says that 99.99% of rides ended without any safety issues. The report covers three categories of information from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020, including:
- Motor vehicle fatalities
- Fatal physical assault
- Sexual assault
The company has not made any policy changes and seems to stand with their numbers that these incidents are rare. The report also shows 20 fatalities from assault which Uber doesn’t seem keen on addressing.
Lyft currently has 17 pending sexual assault lawsuits, and the company is using data to fight these claims by saying that 99% of rides are complete without incident. In 2019, Lyft reported there were 1,807 sexual assaults in Lyft vehicles. The company further breaks them down into subcategories like:
- Non-Consensual Kissing of a Non-Sexual Body Part
- Non-Consensual Touching of a Sexual Body Part
- Non-Consensual Kissing of a Sexual Body Part
- Attempted Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration
- Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration
Unfortunately, the company is doing little to remedy these claims besides issuing refunds and suspending accounts. There is no follow-up; the only way to get justice is by working with a Fort Lauderdale sexual assault lawyer.
Are rideshare companies responsible when drivers commit sex crimes?
Various lawsuits like these allege that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft do not do enough to protect passengers and drivers from sexual assault. While many drivers attack passengers, sexual assault is prevalent among passengers attacking driving too. The hypocrisy is that rideshare companies promote their services as a safe way to get home, which turns out to be the worst ride of people’s lives.
Both rideshare companies have found a loophole to complicate legitimate sexual assault claims. In a typical workplace, you can report a person sexually harassing you to human resources, as the employer is responsible for everyone’s safety. However, Uber and Lyft do not classify their drivers as employees but instead as independent contractors. The designation means the companies can deny liability and shift it to the driver or passenger. It does not exempt them from all liability, and you will need a South Florida Uber and Lyft sexual assault lawyer on your side.
Can you file a lawsuit against Uber or Lyft for sexual assault?
Sexual assault covers a range of incidents. Our Fort Lauderdale sexual assault attorneys can file a lawsuit in civil court if you were the victim of:
- Non-consensual kissing
- Exposing intimate body parts without consent
- Non-consensual groping
- Exposing another person’s private body parts
- Being forced to perform sexual acts
- Drug-facilitated sexual assault
- Non-consensual penetration
- Kidnapping to commit a sexual act
Holding Uber and Lyft accountable is challenging because they are the facilitators of these rides but do not have employees. Some drivers have a clean record but then commit acts after starting employment. Since these companies do not do regular checks, these criminals slip through the cracks. Passengers can also attack drivers, which is another complex legal matter.
Civil versus criminal claims
Sexual assault crimes in rideshares are a civil claim, and a Fort Lauderdale sexual assault lawyer i with experience handling civil litigation can help. In civil actions, the plaintiff (you) takes action against the perpetrator with the help of an attorney. You can sue for damages in a civil case. The state brings on criminal cases, and you do not have any say in how the case will go.
Rideshare companies should implement more vigorous background checks, a warning system when there are extreme route deviations, and implement a company policy for reporting these crimes. They should also install cameras or have the capability to record the ride from the app. Some drivers are installing cameras and recording devices in their vehicles for safety. Sexual assault lawsuits will only continue to rise if the companies sit back and do nothing. They can continue to live in denial, but our sexual assault lawyers are ready to hold them responsible. Yeboah Law Group has offices in Key West, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Miami so that we can help all Miami-Dade and South Florida residents. Call our offices or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today.