Rideshare applications such as Uber and Lyft have completely changed transportation over the past decade. It is simple, quick, and often inexpensive to call an Uber or Lyft to get you from Point A to Point B. In 2019, it was reported that a third of all Americans have used a rideshare application, doubling the statistic reported in 2015. What Uber and Lyft have not accounted for is the high number of reported sexual assaults. Uber alone has received 5,981 allegations of serious sexual assault just in the past two years. Despite its severity, sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes. According to a Justice Department analysis of violent crime in 2016, nearly 80 percent of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported. Many survivors fear retaliation, believe the police would not do anything to help, or even believe the crime was not important enough to report. We, at Levin Simes Abrams want to eliminate those stigmas and provide the public with the information they need to get the justice and help they deserve.
If you have been sexually assaulted, employing the following actions might not only ensure your safety, but increase the chances that your attacker will be caught, and decrease their chances of assaulting another person:
- Ensure you are secure and in a safe place. If possible, call a friend or family member and stay on the phone with them until you are safe. This can be hard to do if you are intoxicated, disoriented, or in a state of shock. If you can get home, make sure that all points of entry are locked and secured. If you are in a public space, ensure that you are not alone and reach out to someone (a store employee, a passerby, etc.).
- If you are injured, immediately go the hospital. If a friend or family member cannot take you to the hospital, you can contact the police and they can arrange transportation. Receiving medical treatment as soon as possible is of the utmost importance. Medical providers can offer a physical exam to identify injuries, provide emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy, and administer sexually transmitted infection (“STI”) testing. Physicians can perform a forensic exam or a rape kit with your consent to preserve evidence. Ensuring that all evidence is collected can help identify the assailant.
- Once you are in a safe place and have received the appropriate medical treatment, report the crime to the police. Depending on the procedures used in your area, you may be required to go to the police department and file an official report, or an officer may meet you at a safe location. During the interview, you can have a friend, family member, or other support advocate by your side. Filing a report does not mean you have to proceed with a criminal suit; you can file an incident report without prosecution.
- Report the driver to the rideshare company. After receiving a complaint, rideshare companies should investigate the crime and suspend the perpetrator’s account, rendering them unable to terrorize other passengers. Be sure to document any communications you have with the rideshare company regarding the incident and assailant.
- Take detailed notes of the incident. As difficult as it is to relive the experience, it is important to write down all the details you can remember about the car, driver, and what was said and done. Having a detailed record of the incident is helpful in aiding the investigation against the driver. Taking screenshots of the ride in the application and the driver’s profile plays a role in confirming the driver’s identity as well. If possible, requesting copies of any medical or therapy records associated with the incident are useful tools in helping calculate costs if you would like to pursue a claim against the rideshare company.
- Consult with an attorney. If you were sexually assaulted by an Uber or Lyft driver, you may have a claim. Levin Simes Abrams is a majority female managed and staffed law firm. We have significant experience representing survivors of sexual assault and seeking justice on their behalf. (link to this/media articles). We are sensitive to the significant emotional trauma and the long, difficult healing process associated with experiencing a sexual assault. We will handle all communications with Uber or Lyft, keeping you informed and answering questions every step of the way. We try to keep the process as easy as possible for survivors, so they can spend their energy on healing.
Our clients’ confidentiality is of the utmost importance to us. In the event it is necessary to file suit, it is possible to maintain anonymity in cases involving serious sexual assault. We explain the risks and benefits of anonymity to our clients and the final decision as to whether to proceed with filing suit and maintaining anonymity in doing so is always up to the client.
We encourage survivors to seek out therapy if possible, while understanding that each survivor’s path to healing is highly individualized. Below is a short list of resources we have compiled for sexual assault survivors:
Please note, each state has a statutory time limit for when a claim must be brought before the court. If you do not file a claim before the statute of limitations expires, you may not be able to pursue a claim in the future.
For this reason, if you or a loved one was injured or assaulted by an Uber or Lyft driver, call our firm at 415-426-3000 as soon as possible to speak with a rideshare assault attorney.