Serving Justice

Passenger Assault in Uber, Lyft Happens More Often Than You Think

June 15, 2020Personal Injury

Ridesharing has been an incredibly popular means of transportation since the early 2010s. While 36% of Americans use these services regularly according to the Pew Research Center, allegations of driver-on-passenger assault are still rampant. While many use these services, riders are typically unaware of just how often rideshare sexual assault occurs.

While sexual assault allegations against Uber and Lyft drivers are nothing new, you’d be surprised at their frequency. While the companies behind these popular apps have addressed concerns regarding background checks, the numbers still reveal a troubling history of abuse and violence.

Faulty Background Checks

A 2018 report from CNET found both Uber and Lyft use background screening services that are less expensive than those used by the taxi industry. This practice likely contributed to a systemic failure to identify drivers with criminal backgrounds.

In fact, during a 2016 lawsuit, Uber revealed it had used the background checking companies Hirease and Checkr for its drivers, which failed to catch 25 drivers with criminal records as their screening process did not access databases with complete criminal histories. In 2017, Illinois required Lyft to change its background screening service from Sterling after it failed to catch a convicted terrorist.

Many ridesharing apps, including Uber and Lyft, have come under heavy fire for repeated issues with failing to adequately check their drivers’ backgrounds. Most of these services do not require fingerprint technology to verify a driver’s identity or to ascertain a driver’s entire criminal history. It’s important to note that this issue from two to four years ago has unfortunately persisted. Just this past February, an Uber driver in Oregon was charged with the kidnapping and sexual assault of a female passenger.

Uber Sexual Assaults

Despite being around since the early 2010s, Uber actually did not release a safety report until December 2019. The 2019 Uber safety report revealed that more than 3,000 Uber passengers reported sexual assaults, nine passengers had been murdered, and 58 riders were killed in crashes, all in 2018 alone. These incidents also involved 229 reports of passenger rape. Furthermore, passengers reported 2,936 sexual assaults in 2017, which increased to 3,045 in 2018.

The assault incidents ranged from unwanted kissing of what Uber deemed a “nonsexual body part” to attempted rape and forcible sexual assault / rape. The most prevalent physical violation was nonconsensual touching of a “sexual body part” like someone’s mouth or genitals. It’s important to note that many victims of sexual assault choose not to report the incidents; and therefore, the numbers revealed by Uber are likely less than the actual number of rideshare sexual assaults. When it comes to fatal crashes, Uber logged 49 in 2017 and 58 in 2018. Uber also disclosed 10 murders in 2017 and 9 in 2018.

Lyft Sexual Assaults

While Lyft has touted itself as a safer alternative to Uber, reported assaults and associated lawsuits say otherwise. While Lyft has not put out a detailed safety report, in December 2019, 20 unnamed passengers sued the company over driver sexual assault. These allegations arose just a few months after 14 other anonymous women came forward with the same charges, as well as many other individual lawsuits involving rape and sexual assault.

Lyft sexual assault victims said they felt the ridesharing company did not do enough to keep them safe. Several stated that when they reported the incidents, Lyft did little or nothing to make it right. They also argued that the rideshare company could have done more to protect passengers by requiring in-car video monitoring and conducting fingerprint-based background checks. While Lyft does have plans to release a report similar to Uber’s, the company currently still fails to adequately investigate customer complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior.

Houston Ridesharing Assault Attorney

Although ridesharing apps have become commonplace for transportation, there’s no denying there are risks involved when getting into an Uber or a Lyft vehicle. At Ramsey Law Group, we believe rideshare drivers should have their backgrounds thoroughly checked before another passenger finds himself or herself in an unimaginable situation. If you or someone you know were assaulted by a rideshare driver, contact the experienced Houston personal injury attorneys at Ramsey Law Group today to see how we can help.