The rideshare company Uber promises a “safe ride home” in its advertising. But dozens of Uber drivers have been convicted of assaulting their passengers. It’s important to know what happens if your Uber or Lyft driver assaults you in Maryland. Rideshare has revolutionized the transportation industry. Before Uber and Lyft, if you were out drinking at night you’d have to wait for a long time for a cab and pay a large amount of money to get home.
Many people risked driving drunk. Although rideshare has some beneficial aspects, this is countered by mounting evidence of rapes and other assaults by rideshare drivers, culminating in big lawsuits against the companies. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we help passengers injured in accidents caused by rideshare drivers. People who are assaulted by Uber or Left drivers also have rights. Baltimore Uber and Lyft assault victim lawyer Randolph Rice elaborates on this topic.
Can Uber and Lyft Drivers Be Dangerous to Passengers?
Ride-hailing, ridesharing, or ride-booking services are relatively new and easy for drivers to sign up for; potentially too easy. We place a lot of trust in rideshare drivers without knowing anything about them. Uber and Lyft conduct electronic backdown checks. Critics argue these lack thoroughness. The background checks focus on the driver’s history.
The rideshare companies are most concerned about moving violations, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, reckless driving, and convictions like a hit and run accident. Uber and Lyft also examine an applicant’s criminal background looking for felonies and misdemeanors such as offenses involving violence and drugs.
Critics accuse the rideshare companies of failing to adequately screen drivers for sexual assault. In 2018, CNN reported how 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assaults or abuse. The channel did its own research using police reports and court records in 20 major cities because the app-based rideshare companies don’t keep records.
The actual figure is likely to be much higher given that CNN restricted its investigation to 20 cities. These cases happen all too often in Maryland.
In 2019, an Uber driver was accused of the sexual assault of a passenger in the back of his vehicle in the Mays Chapel area of Baltimore. The news report noted the case of Uber driver John David Sanchez, a driver in his 50s who was convicted of the rape of a drunken woman in San Diego. When police searched the driver’s computer, they found images of him raping women and young teens over five years. Sanchez was sentenced to 80 years in prison for the rape of the passenger and 33 other counts including the sexual assaults of at least nine women.
While Uber and Lyft market themselves as companies that help people get home safely when they are drunk, this is not always the case. Typically, the victims who were taken advantage of were inebriated. Unlike more traditional employers, these companies offer little sexual harassment training to drivers.
Five Uber drivers told CNN they were not given any kind of sexual harassment or assault training. Drivers sign up to the company’s community guidelines to work as contractors Uber updated its standards in December 2018 to specify no sexual contact is allowed when using its platform.
Additional 2018 safeguards included giving passengers a way to call 911 through the app, GPS tracking of every ride, and yearly checks of criminal and motor vehicle records of drivers. Riders can now designate trusted friends and family to track their trips.
What You Should Do If Your Uber of Lyft Rider Assaults You in Maryland?
Report any assaults to the police as soon as possible. Some victims are ashamed to come forward and reluctant to make a complaint because they were intoxicated at the time and have little memory of the incident.
Tell the police officer the basis of your suspicions. If you were assaulted by a rideshare driver in Maryland, establishing the driver’s identity is unlikely to be a problem because the driver is known through the app. Also make a timely complaint to Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare company.
Uber has a “Special Investigations Unit” or “SIU” tasked to look into complaints. However, critics have accused it of protecting Uber’s image and liability above passenger safety. The Washington Post reported bad drivers get “three strikes” before Uber stops them driving, Even after deactivation, many end up driving for Lyft.
Join a Lawsuit if Your Uber or Lyft Driver Assaults You in Maryland
Filing a report to the police is the obvious first step to take after an assault in Maryland. As well as the criminal action, you may be able to sue the rideshare companies. Although drivers are private contractors they are using the Uber and Left platform. There’s plenty of evidence that Uber and Lyft have not done enough to protect passengers either by providing effective reporting methods, adequately screening drivers, or dealing with drivers who are the subject of assault allegations.
In September 2019, a horrific lawsuit brought against Lyft by 14 women painted a picture of widespread rapes by Lyft drivers, reported USA Today. The lawsuit alleges Lyft is mishandling what amounts to a “sexual predator crisis.” Five of the woman claim they were raped. However, only one of the 14 women who filed the complaint said Lyft told her it removed its driver from the app. Other women said they were concerned their alleged attackers were still driving for the ride-hailing company. One 40-year-old woman claimed she was kidnapped for hours by a Lyft driver before she could escape.
These are alarming claims that go to the heart of the lack of scrutiny of independent contractor drivers by Uber and Lyft. On the back of a series of scandals at Uber, Lyft painted itself as a more socially-conscious alternative to Uber. The lawsuit places the company under unflattering scrutiny and suggests it’s no different from Uber. Many drivers use both apps anyway.
Talk to a Maryland Rideshare Assault Lawyer
If your Uber or Left driver assaults you in Maryland, you can be seriously injured and suffer long-term emotional scarring. Our Baltimore personal injury lawyer can hold Uber and Lyft liable for hiring dangerous drivers and failing to protect your safety.
At the Law Offices of Randolph River, we are concerned about all aspects of Uber and Left safety in Maryland. Contact us if you were hurt in a crash caused by a rideshare driver or if you suffered an assault by an Uber or Lyft driver in Maryland. Please get in touch today for a free consultation.