Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit: Five Reasons Victims are Suing

Apr 4, 2024 | Uncategorized

In October 2023, officials moved over 10,000 sexual assault lawsuits against Uber into a California federal district court. The primary allegations in these lawsuits are discussed below. All five are slightly different, but the bottom line is the same. Uber had several chances to stem the tide of sexual assaults and protect its riders, but the company did nothing.

Sexual assaults come in various forms. Some of them, such as sexual harassment and false imprisonment (taking passengers where they don’t want to go or refusing to let them out of the vehicle upon request), may be “nonviolent” to some people. But to the victims of these assaults, they’re every bit as violent as sexual battery and other such offenses.

Trials aren’t scheduled to begin until late 2024. So, if you were a sexual assault victim during an Uber ride, there’s still time to partner with a Houston personal injury lawyer and submit your claim. Given the number of victims and the serious physical and emotional injuries sexual assaults cause, this settlement could be very large. Victims who come forward early usually get teh lion’s share of the settlement money.

Company’s Knowledge

Everyone, from your next-door neighbor to a large multinational corporation like Uber, has a legal duty to protect invited guests, whether those guesses are commercial or social invitees. This duty applies if the property owner or manager, which in this case is Uber, knew about an injury-causing hazard.

Circumstantial evidence is sufficient to prove knowledge. A banana peel on the floor is the classic example. If a victim slips and falls on a black, gritty banana peel, as if it had been on the floor a while, the owner should have known about it and should have addressed it.

Direct evidence of knowledge is much more compelling to jurors and usually drives up a claim’s settlement value. 

As for knowledge and the Uber lawsuit, company executives can read statistics as well as anyone else. Furthermore, a pattern of sexual assaults doesn’t just happen. Executives could have connected the dots and could have better protected riders. But they chose to focus on profits instead.

Inadequate Background Checks

Background checks walk a fine line. People shouldn’t be harshly judged according to what they did in the past. But at the same time, a leopard doesn’t change its spots. If people acted one way in the past, they’ll likely act the same way in the future.

Uber most likely didn’t put enough emphasis on background checks. Furthermore, the company might not have asked the right questions.

The difference between an arrest and a conviction is a good example. Many people are arrested for various crimes, but these arrests don’t result in convictions. An arrest doesn’t necessarily indicate wrongdoing. But it raises a red flag, which an employer is duty-bound to examine.

Lack of Training

Over 95 percent of Uber drivers quit after just one year. Since most Uber drivers have almost no ridesharing experience, they almost exclusively rely on company training, which is usually limited to a few online videos.

Due to the lack of training, many Uber drivers are completely unprepared for real-word ridesharing experiences. They have trouble understanding customers, especially if the customer communicates non-verbally. 

To shore up training, Uber recently partnered with a company that offers pointers in such areas like asking nonjudgmental questions. But there’s little or no scientific evidence that such methods are effective.

Inadequate Safety Measures

Recently, some Uber drivers began installing surveillance cameras in their cars. People, including drivers, are usually on their best behavior when they know someone is watching.

However, the footage might not go to the company. And, if a Houston personal injury lawyer needs it later, the Uber driver might “accidentally” delete it.

To avoid this problem, a lawyer must immediately send a spoliation letter to evidence custodians, like Uber drivers. This letter is basically a court order that directs the recipient to preserve all potential physical evidence, such as surveillance camera footage, for later inspection.

On a side note, cameras sometimes involve legal issues. Several states, such as California, require both parties to consent to a recording.

Furthermore, a camera isn’t enough. Uber drivers should also inform people of their rights, such as their right to terminate the ride at any time. If they exercise that right, the driver cannot simply pull over. The driver must take the passenger to a safe and secure place, like a well-lit store or a police station parking lot.

Slow or No Response to Complaints

Now, we get to the big one. Inadequate response to a complaint is the key element of a negligent supervision claim.

If a boss receives a misconduct complaint, regardless of its apparent merit, the employer has a duty to promptly, thoroughly, and transparently investigate that claim.

To satisfy the promptness requirement, the employer must have an investigative structure in place. Thorough investigators interview all witnesses and examine all evidence, whether or not that evidence is favorable to the employer. Investigations are only transparent if nothing occurs behind closed doors.

If Uber’s hiring or employment practices were negligent, a Houston personal injury lawyer can obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are often available in sexual assault matters as well.

Uber sexual assault victims still have time to obtain maximum compensation, but time is running out. For a confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Houston, contact Williams Hart Boundas Easterby LLP. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only. The provision of this material does not create an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this newsletter are not a substitute for legal counsel. Do not take action in reliance on the contents of this material without seeking the advice of counsel.

The information contained in this blog may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. Accordingly, information in this blog is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and should not be relied upon as such. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.

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