What Could Uber Have Done to Stop Uber Driver Sexual Assault? 

January 10, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
What Could Uber Have Done to Stop Uber Driver Sexual Assault? 

Uber remains one of the most popular and accessible transportation services on the market. The rideshare company’s remarkable ascent from its foundation in 2009 was partially a consequence of its commitment to delivering safe rides at an affordable rate. 

However, a groundswell of Uber driver sexual assault lawsuits has recently disproven and discredited this promise, while simultaneously exposing a toxic corporate environment and routine negligence. The many Uber sexual assault lawsuits allege that Uber not only knew of the high incident rates but failed to implement new safety and surveillance features or reform its application review process. 

Weak Security Background Screenings of Uber Applicants

One of the most troubling allegations Uber faces addresses its continual use of insufficient background checks. Rather than conduct thorough reviews to cull potentially dangerous drivers, the rideshare company expedited the application process by outsourcing its screenings to third parties. 

The weak application checking standards enabled dangerous individuals to become Uber independent contractors and greatly endangered passengers – many of whom were young women.

Also, despite receiving sexual assault reports from survivors at least as early as 2014, the company failed to discontinue the policies that facilitated the attacks and continued to advertise the safety of its transportation services. 

Uber Failed to Interview Rideshare Applicants

On account of Uber’s use of third-party services, it rarely interviewed applicants either in-person or digitally. This irresponsible practice permitted convicted criminals to bypass thorough screenings which might have resulted in their automatic disqualification. 

The active Uber sexual assault lawsuits allege that the conspicuous absence of interviews increased the likelihood and the frequency with which violent sexual crimes occurred. Although Uber states on its website that “criminal convictions such as murder, sexual assault, and terrorism-related offenses will result in disqualification”, the company was aware that applicants could evade oversight by exploiting the overhasty protocol it employed to review criminal history. 

It should also be noted that Uber is not alone when it comes to issues with sexual assault committed by drivers against passengers. There have also been a number of Lyft sexual assault lawsuits filed on similar grounds.

Uber’s Lack of Biometric Verification Increased Risk of False Identification

Another common issue raised in the Uber sexual assault litigation is the risk of false identification. Neither the rideshare company nor the third parties to whom it shifted the task of background checks rigorously verified the information that applicants submitted. 

This increased the likelihood that individuals would provide the company with fabricated data, including social security numbers and track records. One way in which Uber could have resolved this dilemma was through the implementation of biometric verification like fingerprinting.  

Uber’s Refusal to Access U.S. Public Databases to Verify Rideshare Applicants

Uber and its third-party screening services failed to cross-reference applications with federal databases maintained by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Instead, they sought only to access those records located in regional courthouses, whose databases commonly provide information for a limited period of time. 

Consequently, convicted criminals whose history predated the timeframe in local courthouse databases could easily evade the unscrupulous Uber application review process. 

Uber Driver Safety Monitoring Procedures Are “Hopelessly Inadequate”

After failing to prevent convicted criminals or suspect individuals from becoming independent contractors, Uber chose not to implement reasonable driver monitoring protocol to ensure the safety of its passengers. As a result, young women were frequently placed in harm’s way and the number of sexual assault incident reports Uber received skyrocketed. 

All the while, the rideshare giant consistently assured riders that its services were safe, reliable, and superior to other common carriers. The majority of the current Uber sexual assault lawsuits argue that Uber’s reckless policies could have been repaired through: 

Installation of In-Car Cameras for Uber Passenger Safety

By requiring drivers to install cameras in their vehicles, Uber might have diminished the overall number of sexual assaults perpetrated by its independent contractors. Currently, Uber allows its drivers to install dash-cams to record car rides, noting their potential usefulness for internal and law enforcement investigations. 

Nevertheless, in spite of exponential increases in sexual assault reports from 2014 to 2019, Uber did not mandate the installation of recording devices. Citing potential privacy concerns from the general public, the company maintained a neutral stance on their use and enabled sexual assailants to perpetrate horrific crimes – all while earning a profit.  

Uber Failed to Address Incidents of Rideshare Sexual Assault

At the center of the ongoing litigation is an unnerving description of corporate misbehavior and inertia. Located in San Francisco, California, the Uber headquarters appears frequently in court filings as the fountain from which irresponsible company policies and continual misrepresentations flowed. 

For instance, a mid-October court filing from Jane Doe LS 177 alleges that the Uber HQ was not only aware of the specific identities of accused assailants but allowed “reported sexual predators to continue to drive for Uber”. All the while, it conducted inadequate investigations to give the impression of due diligence, which often consisted of emails, follow-ups, and rushed surveys of an accused driver’s history. 

Uber Accused of “Stonewalling” Law Enforcement Investigations

To make matters worse for survivors, Uber stands accused of noncooperation with law enforcement. In its 2019 U.S. Safety Report, Uber states that it does not automatically provide sexual assault reports to the relevant authorities for fear of compelling unwilling survivors to participate in investigations. 

However, there is a large difference between discretion and obfuscation. Even those survivors who report their assaults to the authorities have encountered tremendous difficulty in accessing crucial information to file a well-substantiated claim. For instance, the complaint from Jane Doe LS 177 alleges that Uber’s management frequently stonewalled authorities, demanding that they acquire court orders to mandate compliance with active criminal investigations. 

Liability in Uber Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuits

In order to seek accountability and compensation from Uber, plaintiffs must successfully advance arguments that hold the company liable for their sexual assaults. One complication is the relationship Uber maintains with its drivers. 

Technically, rideshare drivers are not employees but “independent contractors”. The difference enables Uber to distance itself both practically and legally from its drivers and their crimes. However, the ongoing Uber sexual assault litigation proposes several legal theories implicating the rideshare company, including:  

Most importantly, the lawsuits argue that Uber owed to its passengers a duty of care, which it failed to recognize and respect. As a result, thousands of overwhelmingly female riders were sexually assaulted and failed both to acquire redress from and prompt reforms within the company. 

Why Choose Dolman Law Group for Your Uber Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuit

With the recent establishment of an Uber sexual assault multidistrict litigation (MDL) in California federal court, survivors of rideshare attacks now have greater access to legal recourse. Nevertheless, enrolling in an MDL can prove complex, leading many survivors to seek the assistance of experienced sexual assault lawyers to protect their rights as they tend to their health and well-being. 

At Dolman Law Group, PA, our talented legal team possesses extensive knowledge of intricate liability questions in the context of Uber car accidents and familiarity with civil litigation for violent sexual assault and harassment. As Uber and its subsidiary, Rasier LLC, prepare for a tidal wave of lawsuits, we are on standby to provide support, advice, and assistance for survivors in pursuit of accountability and justice. 

With over 120 combined years of personal injury law experience, we fuse the individualized treatment of a small firm with the resources and influence of nationwide practice. Whether you need more information about the eligibility of your Uber or Lyft lawsuit or the potential compensation to which you may be entitled, we want to help. 

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help with Your Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit

The connection between Uber’s lax hiring process, insufficient surveillance and safety protocol, and disturbingly high rates of sexual assault is clear. Even after the publication of U.S. Safety Reports and heightened public scrutiny, the rideshare company chose to minimize instead of mitigate incidents of violent sexual crimes – and reforms are still forthcoming. 

That is why our qualified Uber sexual assault lawyers are prepared to work tirelessly to defend the rights of survivors. In a free consultation for prospective clients, we can help you determine whether or how to proceed and estimate the compensation to which you may be entitled. 

For more information and advice, consider contacting us today at (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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