Rideshare users are effectively putting their trust in strangers to transport them safely to their intended destination. Unfortunately, some Uber drivers take advantage of this dynamic to perpetrate sexual assault. Uber’s own internal data supports the existence of an alarming and pervasive pattern. Survivors of sexual assault committed by Uber drivers are in the process of seeking compensation for damages like medical bills, emotional distress, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
These brave victims allege that Uber’s negligent hiring practices made them more likely to suffer harm caused by predatory rideshare drivers.
At Dolman Law Group, our team of experienced sexual assault attorneys has been working tirelessly to support survivors in their pursuit of fair settlements and accountability. You can reach out to us at (866) 481-5340 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with a qualified Uber sexual assault lawyer.
Why You Should Trust Dolman Law Group to Negotiate Your Uber Sexual Assault Claim
Dolman Law Group has proudly advocated for clients who have been wrongfully harmed due to another party’s negligence, including sexual assault survivors.
As accomplished personal injury lawyers, we know the value of providing each case with individualized attention. You can expect us to be thorough, communicative, and compassionate during your personal injury claims process.
Our team at Dolman Law Group strives to leverage our resources, experience dealing with insurance companies, investigative skills, and legal wisdom to negotiate maximum compensation for our injured clients.
We have the combination of expertise needed to deal with both aspects of your Uber sexual assault claim. Rideshare claims require a thorough understanding of state laws governing liability for companies like Uber and Lyft. The rideshare accident lawyers of Dolman Law Group regularly negotiate claims involving Uber, which has allowed us to develop an extensive knowledge of rideshare insurance policies and applicable state laws.
Not only do we understand the intricacies of rideshare accident liability, but we have dealt with sexual assault claims in a number of different contexts, including survivors who experienced sexual assault in the military, at the workplace, and in their own church. This has given us valuable experience in collecting evidence, navigating legal standards for sexual assault, and cultivating trust with sexual assault survivors. Our credibility with survivors is based on the results we achieve, as well as the level of respect and sensitivity we exhibit towards them.
Understanding What Qualifies as Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is when one person forces unwanted sexual contact upon another person. This act can involve people of any gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status, though in the case of Uber assault, it is more commonly a male driver attacking a female passenger.
In Uber sexual assault lawsuits, there have also been accusations of kidnapping and physical violence related to the sexual assault. The key is that the injured party did not agree to engage in sexual activity or was unable to consent to the contact due to intoxication, age, or impairment.
This is distinguished from sexual abuse or sexual harassment. Sexual abuse is typically used to describe a repeated pattern of non-consensual sexual contact, usually involving a person who is known to the injured party. In most cases, sexual abuse applies to situations involving children or other vulnerable people, as they are more likely to be in long-term situations where they cannot escape from their abuser. The primary difference between abuse and assault is that the term sexual assault refers to a single event.
Sexual harassment can often be a precursor to sexual assault. Harassment is seen as a lesser offense, and more often involves civil penalties rather than criminal. If an Uber driver requested a sexual favor, made crass comments about your body, or solicited sexually explicit pictures that would likely be considered sexual harassment. Other acts, like exposing genitals to a non-consenting party, can fall into a gray area between harassment and assault.
Examples of sexual assault can include:
- Groping over or under clothing
- Touching breasts, genitals, or buttocks
- Penetration with digits or an object
- Rape or attempted rape
- Forced to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex
How Sexual Assault Happens in an Uber Rideshare
Rideshare users are in an inherently vulnerable position when they accept a ride from an Uber driver. As a rider, you are in an enclosed space with a stranger who has control of the car, and therefore your safety. Other circumstances can put you at a further disadvantage, such as traveling in an unfamiliar area, under the influence of alcohol, at a late hour, or riding by yourself. Uber drivers with malicious intentions may attempt to exploit this opportunity to perpetrate a sexual assault.
There a several methods a driver may employ to commit a sexual assault against a passenger. Sexual assault can be inflicted through sheer physical force, coercion, or manipulation. Obviously, physical force involves overpowering the passenger with size or strength. Impaired passengers may lack the coordination to fight off an attack, placing them at a greater risk of sexual assault. This is especially upsetting considering that Uber rideshare services are heralded as an alternative to drunk driving.
An Uber driver who intends to sexually assault a passenger may also use threats to intimidate their passenger into compliance, such as the prospect of violence. Refusing to take a passenger home, plying them with alcohol or drugs, pressuring them after being rejected, and threatening a passenger’s family or friends can all be tactics used to enable sexual assault. A perpetrator may encourage feelings of shame, fear, or doubt to discourage the survivor from reporting the attack.
Injuries Associated With Sexual Assaults Perpetrated by Uber Drivers
For a survivor to secure compensation for their damages in a personal injury lawsuit, they have to be able to tie their losses to an injury they experienced as a result of Uber’s negligence. Injuries acquired during a sexual assault can range from small cuts that heal on their own to debilitating brain injuries that require surgical intervention, though injuries that are severe are relatively rare in sexual assault cases.
It is important to note that sexual assault is not always accompanied by visible physical trauma. Research published in the National Women’s Study found that 70% of sexual assault survivors were not physically injured during the rape. While physical injuries can be used as evidence of the assault, their absence should not be used to dismiss a survivor’s account.
In addition to the physical component of a sexual assault, most survivors experience long-term mental trauma. This can manifest as flashbacks to the experience, nightmares and insomnia, paranoia about personal safety, self-harm, social isolation, and irritability. Mental injuries caused by sexual assault can also have physical consequences, such as rapid weight loss, recurring pain, and fatigue. The most common types of injuries and health consequences linked to sexual assault include:
- Bruising around the wrists, inner thighs, or genitals
- Internal damage, such as tears and bruising, to the vagina or anus
- Trauma to the face
- Broken bones
- Unintended pregnancy
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Damages Available in an Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit
Enduring a sexual assault is a destabilizing experience for many survivors. The effects of trauma can bleed into other areas of your life, including your career, relationships, and finances. For example, a survivor who was assaulted by an Uber driver may develop severe depression that causes them to underperform at work and need to see a therapist on a weekly basis. The emotional toll of the sexual assault, the cost of a career setback, and the expense of therapy can all potentially be considered damages in an Uber sexual assault lawsuit.
While the trauma of such a violating experience cannot be undone, securing compensation in a personal injury lawsuit can help restore some level of what was taken. Economic damages recognize financial losses the plaintiff has sustained, and non-economic damages provide compensation for the intangible costs that resulted from the plaintiff’s sexual assault injury. Examples of damages in an Uber sexual assault lawsuit include:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Lost wages
- Loss of quality of life
Understanding Uber’s Liability in a Sexual Assault Claim
In a personal injury lawsuit involving a rideshare company, liability is often complicated because Uber drivers are technically designated as independent contractors (IC) under the law. That means that Uber has less legal culpability for their actions if they harm someone else because they are not considered employees. For example, in an Uber rideshare car accident, the level of coverage offered by Uber depends on whether the driver was actively picking up or transporting a passenger, awaiting a ride request, or using their car in a personal capacity.
However, Uber and other rideshare companies are not completely absolved of any duty of care to passengers just because their drivers are ICs. In effect, that means Uber could be held liable for a passenger’s damages if the company’s negligence is responsible for their injuries. Uber is currently facing dozens of claims alleging that they failed to properly screen their drivers or to respond to allegations of sexual assault. These actions are not only within their purview but are also part of their legal obligation to passengers to take appropriate steps to reduce their risk of injury.
If plaintiffs are able to offer evidence that Uber had hired someone with a recent record of sexual assault, or failed to fire someone with multiple complaints of sexual harassment against them, for example, that could be used to establish that Uber reasonably should have known that the driver presented a threat to passengers. Plaintiffs may then argue that their failure to cautiously vet drivers and failure to remove problematic drivers is a breach of their duty of care, which created the circumstances for the sexual assault to occur. Whether or not courts find this narrative compelling remains to be seen.
Dozens of Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits Have Been Consolidated
Plaintiffs in the Uber sexual assault claims say that Uber’s safety practices fall short in terms of protecting passengers from being sexually assaulted. Some have pushed for additional screening measures, like incorporating fingerprinting into Uber’s background check protocols, as well as extra ride security in the form of a dashcam. In the meantime, survivors are hoping to secure fair compensation for their damages.
The consolidation of the claims can benefit plaintiffs by creating more consistent rulings on issues like what evidence is allowed, allowing them to advocate as a group instead of individuals, and share resources like expert witnesses. Plaintiffs still hold the burden of proof for establishing Uber’s liability, drawing a connection between their injuries and the damages they are claiming, and demonstrating the monetary value of their damages.
What You Should Do If You Were Sexually Assaulted By an Uber Driver
The first thing to do is to get yourself to safety. Aim for a well-lit, busy area if possible. From there, you should seek out medical attention. Even if your physical injuries are minor, it is important to create a third-party record that verifies the severity of your injuries, shows that you received treatment, and connects the injuries to the assault.
Otherwise, representatives for the defendant may argue that you exaggerated your injuries or postponed treatment so your injuries would worsen in an effort to benefit your claim. In addition to seeking immediate medical attention, document everything that you can, and try to make notes about what happened. This includes taking pictures or video of your injuries and the driver’s behavior, taking a screenshot of the driver’s profile, creating a timeline of events, and recording your route.
You may also want to consider filing a report with law enforcement, as they can conduct further investigations and help preserve critical evidence that can be used to bring criminal charges or pursue a civil claim, depending on the circumstances. If you are interested in exploring your legal options for compensation in a civil claim, you should contact a personal injury attorney who has experience handling both rideshare claims and sexual assault lawsuits.
How an Uber Sexual Assault Lawyer Can Help You
It takes a highly experienced personal injury attorney to successfully navigate claims involving sexual assault. Survivors may be understandably reticent to undergo invasive exams or provide detailed testimony, physical evidence must be acquired quickly, eyewitness testimony may be hard to come by, and, given all that, the evidentiary standard can be an obstacle. Uber sexual assault claims are further complicated by the involvement of a third party.
The average client does not possess the investigative resources, legal expertise, or schedule availability to compile evidence into a clear, persuasive argument for compensation. Personal injury lawyers are equipped to handle these aspects of your Uber sexual assault case and negotiate a fair settlement. Clients who attempt to represent themselves in complex personal injury lawsuits are often disappointed with the outcome of their settlement.
By hiring an Uber sexual assault lawyer, you are engaging the most qualified person to accurately and reliably advocate for your best interest. They will be able to manage paperwork, interpret legal jargon, coordinate communication between parties, assess the value of your damages, and champion your claim in settlement negotiations. Additionally, representatives for the defendants are more likely to view your case as legitimate if a personal injury attorney has agreed to represent you, which can work to your benefit in negotiations.
Frequently Asked Questions About Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits
What safety precautions can I take to reduce my risk of being assaulted in an Uber?
While the onus is not on the survivor to prevent their assault, taking proactive steps can offer an additional level of protection and peace of mind.
- Check the license plate and driver photo provided by the app against who picks you up
- Ask your driver to confirm who they are picking up before getting into the car
- Ride in the backseat and check to make sure the child lock is off
- Share your ride with a friend or family member
- Watch your route as you’re traveling
- If your driver starts behaving in a threatening manner, trust your instincts and contact the authorities
- Never reveal that you are returning to an empty apartment or house; say that someone is expecting you at a specific time
- Use your phone to record if you have an unsafe interaction
How common is sexual assault by an Uber driver?
In a publically released report referencing 2019 and 2020, Uber stated that they received:
- 3,824 complaints of sexual assault and misconduct
- 998 sexual assault incidents overall
- and 141 rapes
Sometimes Uber drivers are assaulted, and they deserve compensation too. But riders were the injured party in about 61% of the sexual assaults.
And since 63% of sexual assaults are not reported, it's likely that number is much higher.
Uber's rapes and incidents of sexual assault were down overall in 2020 because business was crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic and ridership plummeted, according to the company’s 2019-2020 U.S. Safety Report released Thursday.
How much does it cost to hire an Uber sexual assault lawyer?
The type of attorney you need for an Uber sexual assault lawsuit is a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers do not charge clients before providing services. Instead, a personal injury lawyer will review a case, agree to represent the client if they believe the claim warrants compensation, and then represent the client free of charge until the claim is settled. After the claim is settled, they recover a contingency fee directly out of the settlement or court awards, which is equal to about 33% of the total amount negotiated. If the claim is not settled, the client does not have to pay for the personal injury attorney’s services.
Dolman Law Group Has a History of Exceptional Results
As personal injury attorneys, we have been successful in securing settlements for clients who have been unfairly burdened with the consequences of someone else’s negligent behavior, including sexual assault survivors. We are committed to delivering superior results, especially in these cases, because we understand that this may be the only form of justice or acknowledgment that they receive.
As our former clients will tell you, we possess the right combination of sensitivity and determination needed to help survivors navigate what can be a stressful process and obtain maximum compensation for their damages. We understand that trust is earned, so our team of skilled Uber sexual assault lawyers will remain dedicated to negotiating your claim to achieve the best possible result.
Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit
Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber were intended to provide passengers with a private, safe way to travel. However, numerous and ongoing reports of sexual assault committed by Uber drivers have demonstrated that the company has repeatedly failed to protect passengers by conducting thorough background checks and dismissing dangerous drivers. Plaintiffs in the Uber sexual assault lawsuits argue that this leaves the company liable.
Our award-winning team of personal injury attorneys is working closely with Uber passengers who have experienced sexual assault to help them recover financial compensation for damages such as pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and loss of quality of life. At Dolman Law Group, we take great pride in providing comprehensive legal services to survivors of sexual assault to maximize their compensation.
We will unapologetically advocate for your needs as your Uber sexual assault attorneys, even if that entails taking your claim to trial to obtain the compensation that you deserve. Our dependable team is available to schedule a free consultation when you reach out to us at (866) 481-5340 or fill out our online contact form. The personal injury attorneys of Dolman Law Group are prepared to offer you the legal support you need to settle your claim so that you can focus on recovering.