Can Uber Be Held Liable If I Am Assaulted By a Driver?

From the very beginning of the rideshare industry, consumers have been concerned about the risk of sexual assault and violent crimes committed by Uber and Lyft drivers. These fears were confirmed after Uber made a pledge of transparency and began publishing annual reports identifying assault incidents. In its 2019-2020 U.S. Safety Report, Uber reported 998 incidents of sexual assault – even with ridership hitting a record low due to the pandemic. If you get assaulted by an Uber driver, learn your legal rights.

Uber Has Historically Low Hiring Standards

One of the main concerns voiced against Uber in the early days of the rideshare industry was its policy of only checking into a potential new driver’s background for the prior seven years. This means that if an individual was convicted of a crime eight or more years ago, he or she could still be hired as an Uber driver.

Unlike traditional taxi companies, rideshare companies classify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. This allows them to lower their hiring standards, including less thorough background checks. While taxi companies fingerprint new drivers and subject them to national criminal history screenings through the FBI, Uber does not.

In addition, Uber does not interview its drivers or arrange in-person meetings before hiring them and allowing them to pick up riders. This increases the odds of Uber hiring dangerous, untrustworthy and unpredictable drivers. These bare-minimum hiring procedures by Uber can put riders at risk of being assaulted by drivers.

Uber Drivers Receive No Company Training

Most companies in the United States are required by state and federal laws to take steps to detect and prevent sexual assault crimes by their employees. This includes putting employees through sexual assault training and having reporting policies in place. Uber, however, provides no such sexual assault training for drivers. In fact, Uber does not train its drivers at all. Once a driver is hired, he or she can start picking up passengers immediately.

When Can You File a Claim Against Uber for Assault?

If an Uber driver sexually assaults you, you can bring criminal charges against the driver as well as file a civil claim or lawsuit against the driver in pursuit of financial compensation. Holding a driver responsible for his or her crimes against you can lead to the driver’s insurance company paying you for related losses, such as medical care. Greater financial compensation, however, may be available with a lawsuit against the larger institution – in this case, Uber Technologies Inc.

The key legal standard for holding Uber liable for assault by a driver is negligence. Negligence refers to a breach of the duty of care, or the failure to exercise reasonable care. When negligence by a company results in harm or damage done to consumers, the company can be held liable. It is up to the filing party, however, to establish the elements of negligence based on clear and convincing evidence.

To hold Uber responsible for crimes committed by one of its drivers, you or your sexual assault lawyer must prove that Uber’s negligence was the proximate or actual cause of the tort committed against you. Since Uber drivers are not employees, the company typically cannot be held vicariously liable for the actions of its drivers. Instead, you will need to prove that the company itself was negligent and that this caused your losses. Examples include Uber’s negligent hiring practices, driver retention procedures and supervision.

Contact an Attorney Today for Assistance

Bringing a civil claim against Uber for sexual assault committed by a driver is a complicated process. Hiring an attorney in Kansas with experience suing Uber for sex crimes committed against riders can improve your chances of securing financial compensation as a victim. For more information about holding Uber liable for assault committed by a driver, contact DRZ Law to request a free and confidential case evaluation.

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