Who is Liable in an Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

October 25, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Who is Liable in an Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

Rideshare companies like Uber pair passengers with available, nearby drivers, a service that has filled a gap in the market for people who want the convenience and perceived safety of a private ride to their destination. This reputation has been tarnished by passenger complaints of sexual assault, which have existed since the establishment of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. The courts are currently reckoning with who should be held financially accountable for the damages of plaintiffs in Uber sexual assault claims.

While representatives for Uber argue that the company should not be considered liable for the actions of Uber drivers technically considered independent contractors, others believe that the rideshare company has an obligation to minimize the risk of sexual assault perpetrated by Uber drivers, which it has failed to fulfill.

At Dolman Law Group, we believe that survivors of sexual assault deserve to be properly compensated for their emotional trauma and monetary losses. Our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers can offer the benefit of our extensive experience and valuable negotiating skills as you pursue a settlement. Give us a call at (866) 481-5340 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our respected Uber and Lyft sexual assault lawyers

Understanding the Risk of Sexual Assault in an Uber Rideshare

Uber passengers, particularly women, are vulnerable to unwelcome advances from their drivers. When a situation escalates into non-consensual sexual contact, passengers have limited options for escape and few, if any, witnesses to corroborate their claims. The accusations in the Uber sexual assault lawsuits range from groping to rape and kidnapping, all of which can cause acute emotional distress and lasting psychological or physical damage. 

In an effort to be transparent and demonstrate its progress, Uber released a report revealing that there were 3,824 complaints of sexual misconduct between 2019 and 2020. This actually reflects a significant decrease in reports of sexual offenses from the prior report, though allowances should be made for lower ridership rates during the pandemic.

Uber data shows that the overwhelming majority of passengers arrive at their destination without incident. This indicates that while Uber may be relatively safe, your risk of sexual assault by an individual driver may be higher than you think. 

Given this, it is all the more important to thoroughly vet Uber driver applicants. Survivors are currently pursuing personal injury claims against Uber for failing to disqualify sexual predators during the hiring process and neglecting to remove problematic drivers. 80 Uber sexual assault claims have been consolidated for pretrial procedures, which Uber sexual assault survivors hope will eventually lead to fair compensation for their damages, accountability for Uber, and reforms that reduce sexual assault by rideshare drivers.

Uber Policy Attempts to Limit Its Responsibility for Uber Drivers’ Actions 

When Uber and Lyft rideshare services were first becoming popular, they lobbied state legislatures to be labeled Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) on the basis that they facilitated pre-arranged rides between passengers and drivers, but did not control or own the drivers and vehicles, respectively. As a TNC, they would then be able to circumvent certain legal ramifications that being defined as an employer of driver employees would entail. As rideshare services expanded and drivers were involved in car accidents, this became increasingly relevant.

Once again, the implications of Uber’s legal status are having a considerable impact on injured passengers. The debate over liability in an Uber sexual assault lawsuit hinges on the question of to what extent Uber is responsible for the actions of their drivers.

Uber Drivers Are Considered Independent Contractors

If Uber drivers were considered employees of the rideshare company, the issue of liability would be more straightforward. However, Uber drivers are legally designated as independent contractors for the rideshare company because it is a TNC, not a car service. 

This legal distinction is important because a company like Uber does not automatically have vicarious liability for an independent contractor’s negligent actions as they would with an employee. In effect, Uber would be shielded from liability in many instances if one of their drivers harmed someone else, although they do offer coverage in the event of a collision. However, employers of independent contractors can still be held liable if they were negligent in their hiring practices, which is precisely what Uber has been accused of doing. 

Under What Circumstances Would Uber Be Considered Negligent in Uber Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuits?

To operate within the existing framework for determining liability in an Uber rideshare claim, if someone works as an Uber driver but was using their vehicle for personal purposes when the sexual assault occurred, Uber would likely not be liable, just as in a case where an off-duty Uber driver caused a car accident. If an Uber driver sexually assaulted a rideshare passenger, that potentially creates the circumstances for a personal injury claim against the rideshare company itself.  

In a rideshare car accident claim, Uber provides some insurance coverage, as a collision is an understood risk. As sexual assault is not an accepted risk of using a rideshare service like being involved in a fender bender is, a survivor would need to provide evidence of Uber’s negligence to recover compensation.

Uber's Failure to Implement Measures to Minimize Uber Driver Sexual Assault Risk

First, a plaintiff would need to show that Uber owed them a duty of care to reasonably limit their risk of sexual assault during a rideshare. Although Uber has added new safety features for contacting authorities and tracking rides, plaintiffs have been critical of their hiring process.

Conducting a background check for sexual offenses on drivers is well within Uber’s established purview, even as employers of independent contractors. Survivors say that Uber’s vetting process has been inadequate, which violates their duty of care to passengers.

The sexual assault claims against Uber also criticize the company for its failure to promptly remove drivers who had been reported for inappropriate sexual contact. If plaintiffs are able to provide evidence that Uber’s hiring practices were negligent, they may be able to secure compensation for damages like medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.

Why You Should Choose Dolman Law Group to Represent You in an Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Sexual assault lawsuits can be incredibly damaging to a rideshare service’s reputation, as well as its profits, so plaintiffs in Uber sexual assault claims should expect significant resistance from the defendant’s legal team. Our team regularly handles sexual assault and sexual abuse claims against powerful institutions like the military and the church, which has equipped us with the skills to effectively secure fair settlements in these types of cases.

The sexual assault lawyers of Dolman Law Group have the additional advantage of being familiar with rideshare liability laws since we also handle Uber and Lyft accident claims. In combination with our record of results, we believe that this experience makes us well-suited to advocate for survivors of Uber sexual assaults. Our clients trust us to represent their best interests, and we make that our top priority. At Dolman Law Group, you can rest assured that your Uber sexual assault claim will receive individualized attention and the benefit of our resources.

Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit

When you order an Uber, you should reasonably be able to expect that your driver will operate their vehicle safely and behave professionally. In effect, you are trusting that Uber vetted their record and deemed them acceptable to drive. Given the thousands of reports of unwanted sexual contact and harassment, it is clear that their efforts have been insufficient and potentially negligent.

At Dolman Law Group, we can offer you unparalleled legal support as you seek compensation for your Uber sexual assault lawsuit. We understand the challenges you are facing, including evidence collection, complex liability laws, and the stress of dealing with such a traumatic event. Our team of expert personal injury lawyers is dedicated to providing outstanding service for our injured clients so that they can focus on finding their new normal.

We will work tirelessly to resolve any liability disputes so that your Uber sexual assault claim can move forward and you can secure a fair settlement for your damages. You can reach out to us at (866) 481-5340 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We can offer insight into the steps of the personal injury claims process, explain what services we offer, and evaluate your damages to estimate their value.


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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