Many Americans enjoy the convenience of rideshare services Uber and Lyft, but what happens when injuries occur during an Uber or Lyft trip? While many legal claims involving Uber and Lyft revolve around car accidents, a disturbing number of claims concerns drivers sexually assaulting passengers.
If you or a loved one recently experienced any type of sexual assault from an Uber or Lyft driver, contact Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C. and his team of Houston injury lawyers today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
Why Should You Call an Uber or Lyft Sexual Assault Lawyer?
Uber and Lyft sexual assault cases are complex. As a victim, it is up to you to protect your rights through the proper course of action after your attack. This includes preserving evidence, calling the right insurance company, and starting your claim. You may file for justice and compensation, only to have the ridesharing company fight your claim every step of the way. Hiring a lawyer can strengthen your side of the case, and protect you from Uber or Lyft taking advantage of you.
Unfortunately, neither Uber nor Lyft have a history of taking responsibility for passenger sexual assault. Neither company has improved its driver-hiring practices over the years, despite a history of assaults. Uber and Lyft do not currently make sexual assault reports public, but third-party websites collect available information based on police reports.
- 95 alleged assaults by drivers
- 374 alleged sexual assaults and harassments
- 16 alleged kidnappings
- 50 deaths
Sadly for victims, both companies often manage to shirk liability by classifying their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. This saves them from vicarious liability or responsibility for the actions of their employees. It is important to hire a sexual assault lawyer to represent you during an Uber or Lyft claim in Houston. Otherwise, a rideshare company may escape liability for your damages and avoid paying for your losses.
A lawyer can help you gather evidence and present a strong case against Uber or Lyft. A lawyer will have negotiation experience that can ensure you do not settle for less than your case is worth. A lawyer can also take your case to trial in Houston, if necessary. Calling a Houston ride share assault attorney can give you immediate peace of mind during this difficult time.
Instead of dealing with the legal aspects of your claim alone, on top of your physical and emotional injuries, your attorney will take care of it for you, while you focus on recovering. An Uber or Lyft sexual assault lawyer will have experience with these types of claims, and will know exactly how to fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf. Since most lawyers offer free consultations, you have nothing to lose in at least calling one to discuss your case after a traumatic incident.
Uber and Lyft Liability for Attacks
While Uber and Lyft offer insurance protection in the event of some accidents involving their drivers, what happens if a driver sexually assaults a passenger? Depending on whether the ride-share company acted appropriately during the hiring process, the company and the offender may both face liability after a sexual assault. Uber and Lyft have a legal obligation to screen driver applicants for criminal history.
Uber claims to conduct criminal background checks on all applicants through a third party. These checks go back seven years, and Uber reruns them periodically. Uber will deny employment to an applicant if he or she has any record of a sexual offense, violent crime, or felony crime. They will also deny the application of anyone registered on the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public website.
Lyft conducts a similar screening process using national and county-level databases, according to the company. They also conduct local courthouse checks that go back at least seven years on potential drivers. Like Uber, Lyft will deny employment to anyone with a record of a sexual offense, violent crime, or felony crime. However, Lyft also denies employment to applicants with some drug-related offenses and property crimes on their records.
While the Uber and Lyft screening processes may appear thorough, the reality is that they do not accurately account for offenses committed after an applicant secures approval to drive or offenses committed more than seven years ago. If a judge determines that a ride-share company failed to adequately screen a driver who sexually assaults a passenger, the company could face liability for negligent hiring practices.
Uber and Lyft Drop Mandatory Arbitration
In the past, both Uber and Lyft enforced policies mandating all victims of driver-on-passenger sexual assault to enter into arbitration. These clauses forced victims to handle any lawsuits arising from alleged sexual assault out of court. In other words, sexual assault victims did not have the right to file lawsuits against their perpetrators, or against Uber/Lyft for negligence. They could only settle their cases out of court, through arbitration negotiations. This could limit victims’ financial recoveries.
In May 2018, both companies eliminated the clauses barring victims from going to court with their sexual assault claims. Now that the mandatory arbitration provision is no longer in their contracts, sexual assault or harassment victims have several options to pursue compensation – not just arbitration. Victims can choose to file public lawsuits in pursuit of fair and just financial recovery for damages.
The decision came after several high-profile cases involving alleged sexual assault by Uber and Lyft drivers during rides. It is a step in the right direction for ridesharing passengers, who will now benefit from the possibility of taking Uber, Lyft, the perpetrator, and/or other parties to trial for their wrongdoings. This can make their complaints public, and spread awareness of the issue. Yet dropping of the clause still does not address class action lawsuits.
A class action lawsuit is a group claim that one person files on behalf of a larger group, all with similar damages and complaints against the same defendant. Uber and Lyft’s clauses still bar victims of sexual assault from filing or joining class action suits. Both rideshare companies are still safe from class action lawsuits against their companies for driver sexual assault. Facing pressure from passengers, however, Uber’s chief legal officer stated the company would soon publish a safety transparency report with data on sexual assaults that occur on the platform.
Your Legal Options After Uber or Lyft Sexual Assault in Houston
Now that both companies have lifted their mandatory arbitration clauses, you have multiple legal options as someone who suffered a sexual assault from an Uber or Lyft driver. You can choose to settle your claim through mediation, which can keep the identities of those involved confidential. You can also choose arbitration, where the suit is private and out of the public eye. You can also choose to take Uber or Lyft to court, to make your case public.
You have the freedom to choose the course of action you prefer. A Houston sexual assault attorney can help you explore your options and select the one that is right for you. Different options will have different pros and cons depending on the goals you have. If you wish to spread awareness of Uber and Lyft sexual assault and fight for maximum compensation, taking the company to court might be the ideal option. Bringing the issue out into the open could warn other passengers of the potential dangers of ridesharing.
Working with a lawyer can make it easy to choose the best legal action for your case. Mediation might be right if you wish your claim to remain confidential, and if you would feel more comfortable not making your name or story public. If you want to put the incident out in the open, however, a court case may be a better choice.
A trial could be preferable if you want to expose Uber or Lyft’s negligent hiring practices, as well as make the name of your perpetrator known in Houston. Thanks to both companies dropping their arbitration clauses, the choice between public and private is now yours.
Who Is Liable for the Assault?
Before you can file any type of claim, you or your lawyer must identify who is liable for the sexual assault. Again, the ridesharing company and the perpetrator could both share liability for your damages. Determining which party should receive your claim, however, can be difficult. You may not understand your rights or the specifics of exactly what happened to you until you receive assistance from a sexual assault injury firm.
A sexual assault attorney in Houston can investigate your incident, collect any available evidence, identify the appropriate defendant, build your case, and file your claim within the state’s deadline. Naming the party that is liable for the assault may take analyzing the Uber or Lyft driver’s work and criminal histories, as well as looking at the processes the company took prior to hiring the driver. If Uber or Lyft was negligent in permitting someone with a history of crime to become a driver, the company may bear liability.
Evidence against the perpetrator could take the form of DNA evidence on you or your clothing, eyewitness reports, or photographs of your damages after the incident. It is imperative to seek help immediately after suffering sexual assault. Go to the hospital and explain what happened.
Sexual assault professionals will be available to help you collect and preserve evidence against the perpetrator. This evidence may then help you and your lawyer hold the attacker liable for your economic and noneconomic damages. Then, hire an attorney to examine your injuries, gather evidence, and seek justice from the responsible parties.
After an Uber or Lyft Sexual Assault
Your first actions after a sexual assault in an Uber or Lyft are very important. Report the incident to the police and give them as much information as possible about the driver and the incident. Once you complete your report, seek medical attention immediately so you have documented proof you sought care promptly after your incident.
Failing to do so could complicate a future insurance claim or hurt your chances of succeeding in a personal injury claim. If a jury notices you did not seek immediate medical care, its members may assume your experience was not as severe as you claim.
You should also save every piece of evidence related to the incident, including the clothes you wore at the time, the receipt for the ride, and a copy of the police report. Your doctor should also provide you with a medical report that lists your injuries and treatment plan. This will help a jury understand the extent of the effects of your experience.
While a person who recently experienced a sexual assault may simply wish to forget the incident and try to move on, it’s important to consider the value of taking steps to file a lawsuit against the offender. Doing so may help prevent future victims and provide a sense of empowerment through the justice system. You can also recover the costs of medical treatment if the assault entailed physical injuries, psychological trauma, or a sexually transmitted infection.
Find Reliable Legal Counsel for Your Uber/Lyft Sexual Assault
After an Uber or Lyft sexual assault, the right Houston rideshare sexual assault lawyer can help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Attorney Brian White has a record of 99% successful cases in Houston, and we can put our skills and resources to work in your case.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team. We’ll review the details of your claim and let you know your options for legal recourse and what type of compensation a claim could yield.