Have You Experienced Sexual Assault Or Abuse?

California Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit

There are thousands of individuals who have experienced sexual assault by rideshare drivers. If you or someone you know has been impacted and live in California, you deserve to understand your rights and options, including filing an Uber sexual assault lawsuit in California.

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You expect a safe ride to your destination when you call an Uber. However, thousands of people are sexually assaulted in Ubers every year. Too often, offenders use the access provided by the rideshare service to find new victims. There are different types of sexual abuse by rideshare drivers – a driver can verbally sexually harass you through inappropriate comments, can touch you without your consent, or physically sexually assault you. None of this behavior is acceptable and you deserve to know your rights and options including reporting and filing a civil lawsuit. 

If you find yourself sexually assaulted during an Uber ride, you can file a lawsuit. In addition to the perpetrator, the rideshare company may be liable for enabling the assault as it is being argued Uber did not uphold its duty of care to you as a customer. Sexual assault can have long-lasting impacts on survivors, and they deserve the peace of mind that the individual will not be able to cause future harm and monetary funds to cover expenses like therapy, medical costs, and potential loss of work due to the trauma. 

Filing an Uber sexual assault lawsuit can help compensate you for your losses and encourage Uber and other rideshare companies to implement more robust safety mechanisms to protect others from this trauma. Helping Survivors can connect you with a qualified attorney to help you with your California Uber sexual assault lawsuit. 

What is Uber Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault includes any unwanted or unwelcome contact with another individual. It can include kissing, fondling, attempted rape, and rape. Unfortunately, sexual assault occurs in rideshare vehicles far too often, with many perpetrators using it as a way to find new victims. 

While rideshares are generally safe, there have been thousands of reports of Uber sexual assault. Drivers may commit sexual assault against the passengers and the opposite – where passengers harm drivers. Uber sexual assault is more likely to occur in certain situations, such as when a passenger is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the rideshare is in a less populated area or someone’s destination is in the suburbs, and if the ride is late at night. 

According to Uber’s second safety report, which covered the years of 2019 and 2020, the total number of sexual assault reports across the 5 categories included totaled 3,824 in 2019-2020. We do not have data for 2021, 2022, or 2023 – and while they state in their report that sexual assaults decreased 5% between their first and second safety reports, it was reported that gross bookings on Uber rides were down by 75% in the three months of April through June 2020. 

This makes the decrease seem less do to sexual assaults decreasing and more so the overall number of rides dramatically decreasing during this reporting period due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Last Date Modified
April 8, 2024
Content Reviewed By:

Kathryn Kosmides
Managing Director | Helping Survivors

2024 Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits Updates in California

Under California Civil Code § 1714, people and companies owe others a reasonable standard of care. They may be liable if they fail to provide appropriate care, causing harm or injury. Multiple cases involving Uber sexual assault use the statute as a basis for liability and demonstrate that the company’s actions amounted to subpar care.

In October 2023, a significant decision was made by a group of judges in California to combine 80 existing legal cases into a single proceeding to be held in a federal court. While each individual case will still go to trial in its own state, all preparatory legal activities, such as depositions and document discovery, will be managed by Judge Charles Breyer in the Northern District of California. This centralized pretrial process is expected to shed light on the issue of sexual assault on the Uber platform, particularly relevant for those in California familiar with the state’s Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits. New lawsuits that are filed in California may also be put under this Multi-District Litigation (MDL)

As it stands, the cases are scheduled for trial in their respective states, but there’s a chance that Judge Breyer might select a “bellwether trial” to act as a representative case for all. Since November 2023, legal experts have been invited to apply for leadership roles in the Uber sexual assault cases, with the chosen lawyers responsible for conducting actions during the MDL  proceedings that will benefit all plaintiffs.

On February 12, 2024, the MDL against Uber saw its 100th lawsuit filed, marking a significant milestone since its inception in October 2023. The MDL aims to provide a platform for over the thousands of Uber passengers who have reported sexual assaults to seek justice and compensation for their suffering.

In February 2024, Uber requested the dissolution of the MDL, arguing that its establishment was an abuse of discretion and did not account for the various state laws governing the cases. The decision on this appeal is still pending, and historically, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has never reversed its decisions to centralize cases. The fate of this appeal remains uncertain.

In October 2023, the JPML consolidated the cases into the “Uber Passenger Sexual Assault Multi-District Litigation (MDL).” Uber attempted to rename the MDL to exclude the term “sexual assault,” alleging it implied guilt. However, in December 2023, the JPML decided against altering the title of the federal Uber sexual assault cases overseen by Judge Breyer in the Northern District of California.

All of this goes to show that Uber is doing whatever it can to limit its liability in these cases and protect their organization. While they partner with nonprofits focused on preventing and stopping sexual assault, they still have a massive and potentially growing problem with rideshare sexual assaults by driver.  Helping Survivors is working closely with leading law firms to ensure that victims of Uber-related sexual assaults receive the skilled legal representation they deserve.

 

Previously, one landmark case against Uber was filed by the California Public Utilities Commission. The agency was the first in the U.S. to legalize ridesharing. However, officials became concerned when they realized customers were reporting sexual assault incidents to Uber, but the company was handling them internally rather than reporting them to law enforcement.

The CPUC attempted to negotiate with Uber to report sexual assaults to the police. The company declined, and CPUC ordered Uber to provide detailed information about sexual assaults during rides. In particular, it asked for the names of the people involved and any witnesses. Uber didn’t provide the information, so the CPUC fined the company $59 million.

Uber eventually settled the CPUC case for $9 million. The settlement requires Uber to provide information on sexual assaults that occur during rides directly to the CPUC in the future. However, Uber can shield victims’ identities unless the individuals opt-in to share additional information.

Ultimately, the responsibility to report a sexual assault to law enforcement rests with the victim. If the victim chooses not to report the assault, no one can force them to do so. However, Uber should explicitly tell victims that it does not report incidents to the police and assist them if they take legal action.

Is Uber Liable in a Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

Uber provides its clientele with transportation, so it must ensure a reasonably safe environment. Uber has a legal duty to prevent sexual assault in its rides. The company should be held responsible when its rides cease to be safe.

In some cases, Uber can be held liable for sexual assault committed by one of its drivers. Prior victims of Uber sued the company for various reasons, including:

Not Vetting Drivers

The duty to provide rideshare passengers with a reasonably safe environment includes hiring drivers who don’t pose potential risks to customers. Uber and other rideshare companies must properly vet their drivers. If a driver has a prior criminal history of sexual assault or similar charges, they shouldn’t be transporting people in their vehicles.

Prior Uber sexual assault cases allege the company used inexpensive background services to vet drivers. The background checks proved ineffective and allowed 25 drivers to become Uber contractors despite having a criminal record.

Deceptive Marketing

Another potential claim a victim can have against Uber is deceptive marketing. Uber advertises itself as the safe alternative to driving when intoxicated. It also hails itself as a company focused on passenger safety. However, victims of Uber may feel otherwise.

Poor Monitoring and Oversight of Drivers

Some victims sue Uber because of poor monitoring of its drivers and trips. For instance, one passenger who was sexually assaulted claims the driver stopped the car midway through the journey. The lawsuit alleges Uber should have noticed something was awry with the trip and taken action.

Failing to Report Incidents to Police

One report based on interviews with over 20 Uber investigators in Arizona found that those who receive ride complaints aren’t allowed to notify law enforcement, even when the report alleges a felony. Similarly, Uber prohibits its investigators from telling victims to seek legal assistance. Investigators are instructed to put the company’s interests first.

How Uber Can Improve

In recent years, Uber has stepped up its safety initiatives. Users can choose to audio record their trips through the app. They can also connect to safety agents directly if they feel uncomfortable during their ride. Other features include a trusted contacts list, which allows passengers to share their trip data with family members or friends.

While Uber’s safety is improving, there are other things the company could do. It could make audio requirements mandatory for all trips and include video recording. Requiring regularly updated background checks could alert Uber to changes in its drivers’ criminal records. Meanwhile, monitoring trips for anomalies, such as unexpected lengthy stops, could catch instances of sexual assault.

California Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit

If you’re the victim of a California Uber sexual assault, you may be unsure of what to do. It’s important to realize that you’re not at fault for the incident. Sexual assault is a severe crime that can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Even if you don’t know whether you want to take legal action, speak with an attorney to determine your options. A qualified California lawyer with experience handling Uber sexual assault cases can assist you.

What Evidence Do I Need for a Lawsuit Against Uber in California?

California’s Civil Code § 1714 assigns general liability to people or entities that fail to exercise reasonable care that results in injury to another person. It’s possible to bring a sexual assault case against Uber under this law.

To be successful, you must demonstrate that Uber violated its duty to care for you as its customer. If Uber didn’t take the appropriate actions to ensure it provided you with a safe driver, it may be liable in your case.

Some elements that can help you prove your case include:

  • The driver has a criminal background with prior sexual assault charges
  • A reasonable person could foresee the driver harming future passengers
  • Uber knew of the danger
  • The driver hurt the passenger
  • Uber’s hiring practices were vital to the passenger’s injuries
Uber drivers have also been victims of sexual assault by their passengers. If a driver decides to sue Uber for their injuries, they must prove the company knew of the potential hazard and didn’t take the proper steps to protect them. They can take action under the same statute.

What Are the Potential Damages of an Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit in California?

If you win a case against Uber for sexual assault, you may be able to collect damages. Your compensation will vary according to the extent of your injuries and Uber’s negligence.

Potential damages you can collect include:

  • Reimbursement for past and future medical expenses associated with the case
  • Lost wages for time spent away from work
  • Psychological counseling for trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Some victims may pursue punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were egregious.

There are multiple California sexual assault cases ongoing against Uber. In one, over 500 women are suing the company for their sexual assault experiences. While the case is still pending, the victims’ damages may reach millions if the court finds in their favor.

Hiring a California Uber Sexual Assault Attorney

Victims of Uber sexual assault have legal rights. They don’t need to suffer their pain in silence. Pursuing a lawsuit against Uber and the perpetrator can provide victims closure and financial compensation to help them through a traumatic experience.

If you’re considering a California Uber sexual assault lawsuit, contact Helping Survivors. Our team can connect you with an experienced lawyer who will work with you to build a strong case to bring the perpetrator and Uber to justice.

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Understand your legal rights and options as a survivor of sexual assault and abuse.