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If you believe you may have been sexually abused or molested, or even touched inappropriately, by an Uber or Lyft driver, please feel free to call our office today for help. We offer a free and confidential consultation where you can speak with our sexual assault victims attorney to discuss the rights you may have, including bringing a lawsuit against the abusing driver, the related ride-hail company, or both. The lawyers at Estey & Bomberger specialize in sexual abuse but more importantly, they specialize in successful results. Estey & Bomberger attorneys have successfully represented victims of sexual abuse and molestation, winning multi-million dollar awards for their clients, all while becoming a true and compassionate long-term partner with the victim on the way to recovery. Estey & Bomberger’s results are truly unparalleled – no single firm in the entire country has more record-setting verdicts and results for protecting against abuse and assault.
Uber and other ride-hailing applications have proven to be a flexible career for drivers, a flexible option for riders, and a thorn in the side of traditional taxicab companies. Have they also become a liability – as a breeding ground for sex abuse?
“To Uber” has become a transitive verb, much like “to Google” which was added to both the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in 2006. While Uber is not yet in the dictionary, it is commonly used as the default term for app-enabled transportation-hailing services, even though competitors may have other, perhaps better, names.
The relationship between ride-hailer and ride-provider is supposed to be on-demand, temporary, and fulfilling only one need – immediate transportation for hire from point A to point B — for both parties.
If Uber, or any ride-hailing service, were to become an environment in which the driver used the opportunity for more than immediate transportation – call it sexual abuse, sexual molestation, sexual intimidation or sexual harassment – then it would be considered a different type of service entirely, one certainly not welcome by the rider. Uber, Lyft and competitors count among its drivers responsible stay-at-home-parents, students, entrepreneurs and those that are retired, semi-retired, unemployed or under-employed. Certainly sexual predators are not confined to the population of ride-hail drivers, and we’re not suggesting that the driver lifestyle is more attractive to sexual predators than are other careers. But we are saying that passengers need to be vigilant for their own safety, and furthermore, ride-hail companies need to be vigilant on behalf of their brands’ customers.
Uber might argue that it has no employees, only independent contractors, but it may still be responsible to protecting those that cause it to earn its living.
Controversy in the Ride-Hailing Industry — Not New
Sexual assault or abuse is not the only controversy clouding ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft; the existence of the ride-hailing industry has itself inspired controversy over the economic “fair” treatment of ride-hailing apps within the, or outside of the, quasi-regulated traditional taxi market.
But sexual abuse is certainly a topic that ride-hailing services should consider, and have considered. The abuse can affect a victim personally, and profoundly, for years if not a lifetime. All the ride-hailing companies, and all of the traditional taxi companies, have some sort of background checks on drivers – here’s a link to Uber’s policy:
Is this enough? At what point is the company responsible if a driver sexually abuses a passenger?
People wonder if it’s more dangerous to use an app service like Uber or Lyft as opposed to a traditional taxi service. The jury is still out. Certainly we’ve seen lots of headlines about sexual attacks on passengers of both taxi services and ride-hail passengers.
Sexual Abuse in the Ride-Hailing Industry – Unfortunately, Also Not New
The Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association has published a site called “Who’s Driving You”, a public awareness campaign promoting safety. Here is a link to the reported list of incidents of sexual assault:
Unfortunately it’s not a recent phenomenon, it’s not inconsistent or rare, and it’s certainly not just local, with incidents on this list ranging from Southern California to Wisconsin to Boston to Orlando to London to India and beyond.
Some examples of sexual assault and/or harassment, alleged, by ride-hail drivers just in southern California:
Having counseled hundreds of victims of sexual abuse and their families over the years, we know it is incredibly scary to have been violated in this most personal way. You may or may not even know, or believe, that you were a victim, you may not want to think about what just happened, and you’re even less likely to want to say it out loud. We suggest you imagine how you would advise your best friend if this were happening to him or her — “be strong”, to start healing by sharing the truth and allowing others to help. Should you ever find yourself in this situation, take your own advice. Know that any shame, uncertainty, hurt or embarrassment you’re feeling now will dissipate over time. Know that the strongest, and smartest thing you can do is to share — right away, with the right people. Who are the right people? Consider building your team — primary players on the team will include your friends and significant others, perhaps your clergy person, and likely, a well-respected lawyer. In our experience, the victims that most-successfully overcome the hurdle of hurt are those that share their feelings and experiences with close friends and family. Your feelings and perceptions will change — even if you cannot tell the difference in your own actions and reactions, close family and friends will notice. It’s usually best to share, so they know why you may be suddenly moody, over-emotional or oddly unemotional.
Other steps to take:
1. Report to the police
2. Get immediate medical attention
3. Report to Uber
4. Save the trip receipt
5. Get psychological counseling
Ask for help and support from those you love. Ask your loved ones to help in selecting a lawyer with whom to consult, and ask them to join you during the initial consultation for moral support.
Call or contact us today for your free consultation and find out how we can help.
If you are hesitant to contact us about your claim, it may help you to gain an understanding of what personal injury law is, and what is is not. We are ready to help you. Whether you prefer talking on the phone, coming into our office in San Diego, or you need us to come to where you are, give us a call at 1-800-925-0723 to schedule an appointment.