Ridesharing has become a particularly popular means of transportation. While Uber, Lyft, and other such services provide an alternative to the use of taxicabs and public transportation, they have been marred by allegations of poor background checks, as well as instances of sexual assault on passengers. With this in mind, it’s important to examine the common injuries passengers sustain in ridesharing accidents, as well as the long term effects they can have.
Common Ridesharing Injuries
Though ridesharing services are typically touted as safer alternatives to other modes of transportation, accidents involving rideshare vehicles happen more often than one may think. In fact, a 2018 University of Chicago study found 2 to 3% of the crashes in a given area of the United States could be attributed to the introduction of ridesharing service.
The study utilized:
- the rollout dates of Uber and Lyft services in every United States city with a population of at least 10,000
- the scale of adoption in those areas based on Google search volume for the rideshare apps
- accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- potential changes in the number of collisions around the rise of ridesharing.
Researchers found fatal traffic accidents actually increased as app-based rides were introduced into a given area. With this information in mind, it’s important to examine the common injuries passengers can sustain during a ridesharing accident, as well as their lasting effects:
Neck injuries, back injuries, and whiplash
When an accident causes an occupant’s head to move in an abrupt and/or abnormal way, he or she can experience whiplash or other injuries to the neck. Whiplash can be a severe and debilitating injury damaging muscles and ligaments in the neck, as well as spinal discs. Injuries like whiplash can result in memory loss and chronic pain of the back or neck.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
If an accident causes the head to strike a window, seat, dashboard, or other solid surface in a rideshare accident, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur. A TBI is any injury that results in bruising, bleeding, or tearing of the brain; however, the severity of these injuries varies greatly. Serious TBIs can cause ongoing mental impairment and other chronic problems that can last a lifetime.
In more serious crashes, rideshare passengers can be at risk of sustaining severe burns from fires or hot vehicle parts. Burns can cause significant pain and discomfort, and they can damage the skin in ways that require corrective surgery to repair it and could result in scarring, disfigurement, and/or restricted movement.
Spinal cord injuries
When a rideshare accident results in a spinal cord injury, the victim could be left with paralysis – including paraplegia or quadriplegia – for the remainder of his or her life. Spinal cord injuries differ in severity based on where the damage occurs along the spinal cord and whether the cord is completely or partially severed.
The impact of a car crash can exert enough force to break bones in virtually any part of the body. Joints such as knees, hips, shoulders, wrists, and ankles are particularly prone to injury in a crash. Damage to ligaments, tendons, muscles, and other soft tissue can cause severe pain and incapacitate the victim.
Unfortunately, rideshare car accidents can also result in the death of a passenger depending upon the severity of the accident. In the instance of a wrongful death, the rideshare driver and company can be held liable for their negligence.
Long-Term Effects of Ridesharing Sexual Assault
In late 2019, Uber released a safety report outlining incidents of accidents involving rideshare drivers, as well as instances of assault and sexual violence on passengers. Among the assaults that had been reported in 2018, there were 235 reported rapes and more than 1,500 cases of non-consensual kissing, touching, or attempted rape experienced by riders and drivers in the United States. The majority of rideshare rape victims were riders (7% were drivers), and nearly 90% of the victims were women. These figures only include instances that were reported. Victims of sexual assault commonly choose not to report the incident out of fear they will not be believed or the perpetrator won’t be punished.
The long-term effects of sexual assault are staggering and can damage victims both physically and mentally. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within the two weeks following their attack. Furthermore, a University of Pittsburgh study examined whether or not sexual assault led to long-term physiological and physical effects in female victims. Researchers found women who experienced sexual assault were three times as likely to suffer from clinical depression and two times as likely to have anxiety when compared to women who had not experienced sexual assault.
Houston Rideshare Assault Attorney
When passengers make the decision to use a rideshare service, they should be able to trust the driver will get them to their destination safely. When an accident or sexual assault injures the passenger, the driver and the company should be held accountable for their negligent behavior. If you or someone you know has been assaulted at the hands of a rideshare driver, contact the experienced attorneys at Ramsey Law Group today to see how we can help you.