Uber and Lyft Sexual Assault
With the popularity of ridesharing programs on the rise across the nation, unfortunately, so too is the rate of victims being sexually assaulted while they are in a vehicle with a rideshare driver. Uber and Lyft sexual assaults occur at the hands of drivers and even other passengers themselves. According to recent data in an NBC News report, this trend has sadly been increasing. The data shares that “Uber reported 141 incidents of rape and 998 incidents of sexual assault overall in 2020, even as the business was crippled by the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and ridership plummeted.”
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As a victim of sexual assault during a ride with an Uber or Lyft driver, please know you are not alone in this. You have rights and options available to you, and we are so sorry this has happened.
At Bachus & Schanker, our Uber and Lyft sexual assault lawyers are experienced in dealing with sexual assault cases that happen during a time when you are supposed to feel safe and protected, and you do have legal options if you’ve been subjected to rideshare sexual assault.
Actions that may be considered sexual assault during an Uber/Lyft ride
Like many victims, you may have feared reporting your sexual abuse because you’re not quite sure if it rises to the level of sexual abuse or assault. Understanding the signs of sexual abuse and examples of sexual abuse can better help you understand what you have encountered and guide you in the next steps to take. Please keep in mind you are not to blame for anything that has happened to you. Below are some common examples of what can be considered sexual assault during an Uber or Lyft ride.
- Unwanted physical touching, including groping, kissing, hand-holding, and other unwanted physical contact
- Attempted rape or attempted physical assault that is sexually charged or sexual in nature
- Rape that includes penetration of your body part or being forced to penetrate someone else’s body
- Being forcibly subjected to sex acts
- Unwanted or unwarranted exposure to pornography and other sexually explicit imagery, videos, audio, or other content
- Verbal or Behavioral sexual harassment
How to potentially avoid being sexually assaulted by ride-share drivers
There are steps you can take to try to protect yourself when you get in a vehicle with a rideshare driver. Take these steps and precautions to stay safe.
- Know whose vehicle you’re getting into – Check the reviews and ratings of the rideshare driver you are requesting. Only ride with drivers who have positive reviews and who have high ratings.
- Note license plate numbers – Before getting into a vehicle, make sure that the license plate number of the car you are getting into matches the license plate number of the vehicle you have requested.
- Let someone know – Before getting into a Lyft or Uber, be sure to let a friend or family member know that you will be doing so. It’s also a good habit to share your location with friends and family so that they can track you in the event something does go wrong.
- Sit in the back seat – Avoid sitting in the front seat as this gives a driver easier access to you and your body. Make it a point to put on your seatbelt and ensure that your driver has their seatbelt on as well.
- Trust your instincts – If you feel something is off about the situation, listen to your instincts and respond accordingly. Tell the driver you need to get out of the vehicle, contact a friend or family member, or even contact law enforcement if you feel that your safety is compromised.
There are things you can do to protect yourself from being sexually assaulted by a rideshare driver. Despite this, the unthinkable can still happen. It’s important to remember that if you are a victim of sexual assault, you are not to blame.
How the Bachus & Schanker lawyers can help you as a victim of sexual assault
At Bachus & Schanker, we understand the complexities that you and other victims of sexual assault face, especially when the assault occurs in a public space where you should feel safe and protected.
Our law firm is dedicated to protecting your rights and helping you cope through this difficult time. We’ve implemented a Victims’ Advocates Team that will work on your behalf to collect and preserve evidence as well as investigate all aspects of your case so that you have the strongest position possible when pursuing justice against your accuser and any other responsible parties. This team works alongside our specialized Elite Litigation Group so that you get the legal representation you deserve.
We offer free, confidential consultations to give you peace of mind when discussing your case. Our legal representatives are here to serve you as you pursue justice and restitution to the fullest extent of the law.
Click here to learn more about how the sexual assault lawyers at Bachus & Schanker can help you.
What if I was sexually assaulted while intoxicated?
Opting for a ridesharing program like Uber or Lyft when you are intoxicated or under the influence is a responsible choice that is not praised as often as it should be.
If you become the victim of a sexual assault while you are under the influence, it’s important to remember that you are not to blame. Sexual predators take advantage of victims when they are at their most vulnerable, especially when they are intoxicated. Do not let this be the reason you don’t seek help and support.
You are not accountable or responsible for decisions or abuse a predator takes against you when you are under the influence.
Is Uber or Lyft responsible if I am assaulted?
All companies, no matter the industry, have a duty of care to provide safe service to their patrons and customers. This duty of care means that a company has to provide a safe environment, among other things, for its customers. When this breach of duty is violated, they can be found negligent and held responsible if a customer is sexually assaulted, physically assaulted, or otherwise injured.
While this concept of duty of care and negligence applies to ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, there are nuances when it comes to their drivers. Drivers of Uber and Lyft are designated as contract workers, not employees. Because drivers are not employees, it is very difficult to bring a sexual assault Uber or Lyft lawsuit forward. The lawsuit must instead be brought against the driver.
Although challenging, this does not necessarily mean it is impossible to hold Uber or Lyft accountable for a sexual assault you may have encountered.
Successful Lyft and Uber sexual assault lawsuits have been brought against these companies, claiming that they were negligent in certain areas of their business model that enabled a customer to be victimized. Such lawsuits have targeted negligence in the form of:
- Negligent hiring practices
- Negligent supervision and training of employees
- Negligent retention
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress
Criminal vs. civil Uber and Lyft sexual assault cases
When pursuing legal action against Uber and Lyft or one of their drivers, you’ll have the option of pursuing both criminal and civil action.
Criminal action or a criminal case is established if you involve law enforcement and law enforcement takes legal action against your abuser. A criminal case can only be brought forward by a prosecutor, which is often handled after law enforcement is involved. Depending on the circumstances of your sexual assault, criminal liability can bring with it jail time, fines, and other consequences deemed necessary by a prosecutor.
Civil charges are brought forward by victims like you. When you pursue an Uber or Lyft sexual assault lawsuit against your abuser or a third party that can be held liable for abuse, you are seeking restitution from the defendants you name.
This restitution, known as compensatory damages, is designed to help you recover from any financial loss you incurred because of your assault. Restitution can also be established for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, or trauma you have endured because of the assault.
It’s important to hold your abuser accountable for their actions against you. While the state can hold your abuser criminally responsible, it is up to you to hold them civilly responsible. Working with an experienced Uber and Lyft sexual assault lawyer like the team at Bachus & Schanker can help you seek the justice you deserve.
Steps to take after sexual assault has occurred
You are not alone if you’ve become the victim of a sexual assault while driving in an Uber or Lyft. If you do become a victim, however, it’s essential to know what to do so that you can hold your abuser accountable. Please take into consideration these steps after a sexual assault has happened:
- Get to safety – It’s important to get to safety as quickly as possible so that your perpetrator does not harm you again. Getting out of the vehicle, getting to a public location where there are other people around, and making contact with authorities should be your first priority.
- Contact authorities – After arriving at a safe location, it is vital to contact your local authorities and report the abuse immediately. This is the first step in holding your abuser criminally responsible for their actions.
- Seek medical attention – If you have been the victim of a physical sexual assault or rape, it’s imperative to seek medical attention immediately. Health professionals will make sure that you are okay, and they will also be able to conduct a rape kit. A rape kit can help authorities collect DNA samples from your predator so that your accusations stand up in court when they are being criminally prosecuted.
- Speak with someone – In addition to seeking out medical attention, it is also important to protect your mental well-being. This can mean speaking with a mental health counselor who is specialized in working with sexual assault victims. You can also work with a therapist or in a group counseling session to navigate your experience. Confiding in close friends and loved ones can also be an outlet for support. If you are afraid to speak about the abuse, you can contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) at their hotline 1-800-656- HOPE (4673). You will be directed to speak with a specialized staff member who can help you navigate the road ahead. This staff member can help connect you to free resources in your community, along with other outlets of support.
Seek legal representation
It can be overwhelming to think about legal representation during what may be your most traumatizing life event. When you seek legal representation from a sexual assault lawyer, however, you can not only help hold your abuser accountable, but you can get the justice and restitution you deserve for the abuse you have had to endure.
Pursuing legal action against your abuser can be difficult if you do not have the right legal representation because it can end up being a “he said, she said battle.” However, at Bachus & Schanker, we are committed to serving all victims to the highest degree possible. Our Victim’s Advocate Team plays a critical role as they will investigate your case to the fullest extent and will collect necessary and pertinent evidence, including DNA evidence and possible witness statements, to help you build a strong case.
Compensatory Damages. (2023).
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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus
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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.