Since its founding in 2009, Uber has grown significantly. Internal company data shows that Uber has effectively cornered the ride-sharing market, with over 131 million monthly users that took over 7 billion trips in 2022 alone. The company’s popularity and profitability are tied to its convenience and affordability, allowing users to call for a ride anywhere at virtually any time.
However, while the company has taken proactive measures to keep drivers and riders safe, there have still been incidents of sexual abuse between these two groups. The factors involved in these arrangements, unfortunately, present plenty of opportunities for sexual abuse and misconduct to take place. Fortunately, California sexual abuse victims have rights and options for holding drivers and Uber accountable.
Experience and Dedication From California Sexual Abuse Lawyers
When you ride in an Uber, you do so with the expectation that the driver will keep you safe. Unfortunately, not every Uber driver has your safety and best interests in mind. At Maison Law, we understand the helplessness that sexual abuse victims often feel, especially when an Uber driver or passenger takes advantage of them. Our team of experienced and dedicated California sexual abuse lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and pursue available benefits and support under the law. Contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation to get the process started.
How Does Uber Address Issues of Sexual Abuse?
With millions of users throughout California, Uber is responsible for keeping these riders safe from car accidents and injuries and instances of sexual assault and abuse. To that end, the company has implemented several measures to help keep riders safe from sexual abuse, including:
- In-App Safety Features – Uber has added several safety features to its app to help riders feel more secure. For example, riders can share their trip details with friends or family members, use an emergency button to connect with emergency services, and report safety incidents directly within the app.
- Background Checks – Uber conducts background checks on all drivers before they are allowed to drive for the company. These checks include criminal history and driving record information. If a driver has a history of sexual misconduct, they will not be allowed to drive for Uber.
- Driver Ratings – Uber allows riders to rate their drivers at the end of each trip. This feedback can help identify and weed problematic drivers out of the system. If a driver receives multiple low ratings or reports of inappropriate behavior, they may be deactivated from the platform.
- Community Guidelines – Uber has established community guidelines that prohibit inappropriate behavior, including sexual misconduct, and provide a framework for reporting such incidents. These guidelines also outline the expected behavior of both drivers and riders.
- Driver Training – Uber provides driver training that emphasizes safety and proper conduct. This training includes information on how to identify and report incidents of sexual harassment or assault.
While these measures can help improve rider safety, they are unfortunately not foolproof. With known instances of sexual abuse occurring in Uber rides throughout both California and the country. Thus, it’s important for users to take a proactive approach to their safety while using Uber.
How Can Uber Riders Protect Themselves From Sexual Abuse in California?
Even with safety measures put in place by Uber, it’s difficult to police the behavior of drivers when they’re out on the road in California. That said, there are several ways that Uber riders can protect themselves during a ride:
- Stay alert – When riding in an Uber, always pay attention to your surroundings and your driver’s behavior. Traveling with a friend can provide additional safety and security, particularly when traveling late at night or in unfamiliar areas.
- Verify the driver and vehicle – Before getting into the vehicle, make sure that the driver and vehicle match the information displayed in the app. Look for the driver’s photo, name, and license plate number, and confirm that they match what is displayed in the app.
- Use the in-app safety features – Uber provides several safety features in the app, including sharing your trip details with friends or family members and calling emergency services directly from the app. Make use of these features to help keep yourself safe.
- Sit in the back seat – Sitting in the back seat can create a physical barrier between you and the driver, making it harder for them to make unwanted advances or engage in inappropriate behavior.
- Trust your instincts – When using Uber, always trust your instincts. If something feels off or makes you uncomfortable, you can end the ride at any time. Make sure to report any incidents of harassment or assault to Uber and the authorities.
Taking these measures is a great way to reduce the risk of being sexually abused while using Uber. With that said, it’s not always possible to stop it from happening. While it’s unfortunate, it’s important to understand that you have legal rights in California that protect you from any form of sexual abuse and harassment.
Is Uber Liable for Sexual Abuse Claims in California?
Another major issue with Uber and sexual abuse in California is the question of liability. The issue of liability is complex in these cases, as Uber drivers aren’t technically employees of the company. Rather, they are independent contractors, which opens up questions as to how responsible Uber is for incidents of driver misconduct.
In terms of sexual abuse, California law holds that negligence is the key to establishing liability. Thus, Uber can be held liable when a driver sexually abuses a passenger if it can be proven that:
- Uber had a duty to take reasonable measures to prevent sexual abuse of its riders by its drivers.
- Uber breached this duty by failing to implement adequate measures to prevent sexual abuse.
- This breach of duty directly caused the victim’s injuries.
- The victim must show that they suffered actual damages as a result of the sexual abuse, such as physical harm, emotional distress, or financial losses.
With liability established, you’ll still need to present evidence if you want to file a lawsuit. It’s here that our experienced team can be vital to your success. Through our experience with these cases, we know what evidence you need and how to present it. Typically, compelling evidence includes things like:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Complaints made to Uber
- Emails or text messages
- Uber documentation regarding background checks or other internal documentation
Filing a Lawsuit For Sexual Abuse Against Uber Driver in California
California law not only criminally punishes perpetrators of sexual abuse but also allows victims to file civil lawsuits to recover compensation and other benefits from Uber and the abuser. A sexual abuse lawsuit is challenging, but our team can support you every step of the way. In order to file a claim, you’ll first have to make sure the claim is within the statute of limitations. Lawmakers have recently passed legislation that extends this time period, so your statute of limitations depends on when the abuse or assault happened:
- After January 1, 2019 – Victims have ten years from the date of the sexual abuse to file a lawsuit
- Between January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2019 – With the passage of AB 2777, victims have a three-year “lookback” window. This means they have until December 31, 2026, to file a lawsuit for sexual abuse.
Once you decide to move forward, our team can help you gather evidence and officially file your complaint against Uber and your abuser in court. While the process can be challenging, a civil lawsuit can ultimately allow you to recover:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
As with any case, what you can ultimately recover depends on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. However, working with our experienced California sexual abuse lawyers can ensure you get the treatment and compensation you deserve.
Don’t Hesitate to Contact Maison Law
No person should have to suffer sexual abuse, especially when they are trying to get from one place to another in an Uber. When you or someone you know has suffered sexual abuse by an Uber driver, Maison Law can help. Our team of experienced, dedicated California sexual abuse lawyers will provide compassionate support as you stand up for your rights. Don’t hesitate to contact us today fo a free, no-obligation consultation.