Chances are, you’ve called an Uber or Lyft after a night out with friends, to get to the airport or avoid the tedious task of finding a parking spot. In 2015, Business Insider reported that Uber had doubled their number of active drivers in the United States from the previous year, amounting to 327,000 active drivers on the road, while Lyft reported employing 100,000-plus drivers across the country.
Companies like Uber and Lyft have helped to alleviate the trouble of hailing a cab, which can often be expensive. But what happens when these ride-sharing apps are used for illegal activity? An alarming trend shows that Lyft and Uber drivers are sexually assaulting their passengers, and hundreds of cases have been reported so far.
Being a victim of sexual assault is a serious matter. If you or someone you know has been assaulted, start the healing process by sharing about your experience with a professional in private.
To better understand your rights and how to move forward after an assault by a ride-share driver, read through the shared information.
Sexual Assault by Ride-share Drivers
Were you sexually assaulted by a ride-share driver? Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell. Though Uber’s Code of Conduct states,
“Commenting on appearance, asking overly personal questions and making unwanted physical contact is inappropriate,”
there is nothing in writing that specifies the illegal actions or consequences of unwanted sexual, physical, verbal or aggressive contact.
However, there are ways to know if you’ve been sexually assaulted.
First, did you give your consent?
If you did not give your driver consent to physically interact with you, you may have been violated. Regardless of whether you were under the influence, your driver does not have the right to touch you or make advances towards you. An example of this would be helping you in or out of the car.
Using Lyft or Uber as a “designated driver” is not only a convenience, it’s responsible. Even if you’re impaired, it does not give the driver permission to touch, grope, or otherwise assault you; you still have to give your consent to be touched. Intoxication is not an excuse nor an invitation for sexual assault.
While rare, there are reports of drivers using Rohypnol (“roofies”) or other kinds of drugs to lower your inhibitions. If your ride sharing driver did, not only is there a chance you’ve been violated, but you have every right to pursue legal action as the use of roofies are illegal.
If any type of unwanted sexual advances or touching occurred during your ride, you may have been assaulted. Bottom line: you have to give your consent or permission to be touched. Even if you didn’t say, “No,” that doesn’t mean you said, “Yes.”
Steps to Take after Sexual Assault Has Occurred
Sexual assault is one of the worst experiences a person can suffer through. If you’ve been assaulted at the hands of a Lyft or Uber driver, please know that you are not alone. While no one should be violated in this way, more than 200,000 men and women annually report being sexually assaulted. And since many incidents go unreported, this number is believed to be even higher.
While it can be difficult, the first step to take after sexual assault has occurred is to confide in someone you trust. This can be a friend, relative, therapist, police officer or lawyer. Regardless of who you choose to share with, it’s important that you talk about the what happened as soon as possible. Not only is it mentally and emotionally unhealthy to keep the assault a secret, but reporting the incident as soon as you can will help you recount important details and could possibly prevent another victim from suffering.
When it comes to finding help, there are different resources you can pursue. Choose the one you feel the most comfortable with:
- Anonymous Online Support: http://online.rainn.org/
- National Sexual Assault Home: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
- Regional Medical Attention
- Local Law Enforcement
- Sexual Assault Lawyer
Opening up after being sexually assaulted is both brave and difficult for survivors – we understand. Jessica Pride has worked one on one with countless women, consulting, counseling and empowering them to grow through the tragedy of sexual assault.
How to Potentially Avoid Being Sexually Assaulted by Ride-share Drivers
The unfortunate reality is that most attackers look for easy targets. You should never get too comfortable with your Uber or Lyft driver when it comes to personal or specific questions. Reports from women online said that some drivers would ask if they were single, who they lived with, or what type of guys they liked to date. Attackers will often assault when they sense they have gained your trust.
You will also find it best to not be publicly intoxicated. Though being under the influence doesn’t give someone the right to assault you, most attackers (ride-share or otherwise) see this as a major opportunity. If you do plan on consuming alcohol, go with trusted friends or consider ride-sharing with a group. The more passengers in a car, the greater the chance of your driver being reported in the event of an assault.
Other ways you can help protect yourself while using Lyft or Uber are:
#1 Never sit in the front seat with your driver
#2 Do not take anything the driver offers you
#3 Tell a friend that you’re in a ride-share
#4 Call someone during the ride
#5 Let a friend know you’ve arrived home safely
#6 Never let a driver “help” you to your door
Lyft and Uber have been blessings to enhance affordable transportation, but there are those who use the service as a means to prey upon women. Next time you get into an Uber or Lyft, these tips can help you, a friend, a sister or loved one avoid the threat of sexual assault.
What Can You Do if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted by Your Driver
In most sexual assault cases, criminal charges won’t be filed against a perpetrator. Often, the burden of proof is difficult without video recording, DNA testing, or other evidence. Most often sexual assault occurs between two people as a “he said / she said.”
However, there are other means to get legal justice besides criminal court. It starts with a phone call.
Contact Jessica Pride, Representing Victims of Uber Driver Sexual Assault
Jessica Pride seeks justice on behalf of sexual assault victims, helping to put tragic events in the past, allowing survivors a chance to gain a sense of closure. Never think of yourself as a victim, because you’re not one. You’re a survivor.
Unfortunately, Lyft and Uber driver sexual assaults are appearing more frequently, people are demanding answers. From Chicago to San Diego to Los Angeles, these violations range from rape to assault to kidnapping. But how, exactly, are these crimes happening?
Last year, Uber revealed that they do not perform fingerprinting background checks or in-person interviews with every potential new hire. Neither company is willing to change even after multiple accounts have surfaced of convicted and dangerous individuals passing the background checks. Though both Lyft and Uber allegedly require applicants to submit to a background check, which is said to include a cross-checking of the sex offender registry and state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, it is unknown just how extensive the background check actually is.
As of September 2017, dozens of women have confided in our team regarding dangerous and inappropriate ride-sharing experiences. The following is data collected from past and recent ride-sharing incidents:
In Almost All Assault Incidents:
- The drivers were men
- The women were intoxicated or had been drinking
- The rider was sitting in the front seat of the vehicle
- In one instance a driver offered to help a woman into her house where he then assaulated her
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. The Pride Law Firm is working to change this statistic, with each heartbreaking story we listen to and every victory we win on behalf of our clients. One by one, we can make a difference for all women.
Contact Jessica Pride today at (619) 516-8166 to learn more about your legal rights and options. You may not have chose to be a victim, but you can choose to be a survivor, and we can help.