“I’ll get an Uber.” “I’ll get a Lyft.” These are terms that people have used without thinking that they could be in danger. There are approximately 78 million Uber users daily around the world. That is a lot of people riding places with people they don’t know. The companies perform background checks on their drivers and look into the last seven years of their driving record.
There is one problem that could arise during the background check process – an incomplete picture. Solo arrests wouldn’t show up on a background check unless the person was convicted of that offense. So, if a driver is arrested for a crime like sexual assault but was not convicted by a jury of their peers, it would not show up on this report.
This practice is fair because not everyone who is accused of a crime has committed one. The danger is in the people who have “gotten off” for a crime they did commit.
REQUIREMENTS TO BE A RIDESHARE DRIVER
In the grand scheme of things, there are not a whole lot of hoops to jump through to be a rideshare driver. Each company has its own requirements for drivers and vehicles, but even then, those feel relatively relaxed. Requirements do vary from state-to-state, but overall the general rideshare driver guidelines are the same.
To be an Uber driver:
- Drivers must be at least 21 years old
- Possess three or more years of driving experience in the U.S.
- Drivers must be 23 years of age with one or more years of driving experience in the U.S.
- Drivers must have a valid driver’s license
- Valid vehicle registration
- Clean driving record – lacking fatal accidents, reckless driving, etc.
- Submit to a background check and be free of criminal history
To be a Lyft driver:
- Drivers must be at least 21 years old
- Drivers must have a valid U.S. driver’s license and have had it for at least a year
- Submit to a check of their driving record
- Submit to a background check
The background check and driving record should be close to immaculate, with no serious violations in the last three years (Lyft) or seven years (Uber).
SAFETY MEASURES INCLUDED BY RIDESHARE COMPANIES
Both companies have incorporated safety features into their applications, including built-in GPS and the option to dial 911 from the app. Even drive information can be shared with up to five friends, allowing someone to know where you are. The GPS location feature has proven useful in the past, even helping stop a sexual assault.
After a group of friends went out to a bar in Old Town Scottsdale, AZ, one of the friends, a 23-year-old woman, became too intoxicated and needed to go home. One of the other patrons in the party used his Uber app to order her a driver, identified by photo and the first name “Mark.”
When the driver arrived, the man told the driver that the rider is a friend who was extremely intoxicated and needed to get home safely. The man even told the driver that he would provide him with a large tip if he got her home safely.
After checking his Uber app, the man noticed that the driver had circled the neighborhood for a few minutes before he stopped a few houses away. Getting a strange feeling about the situation, the man went to the location. He found the driver sexually assaulting the intoxicated woman. After getting her home, they notified her mother, who took her to an advocacy center for an exam.
Mark Taylor was arrested two days later, stating that the contact was initiated by the woman. Even he admitted that she was so intoxicated that she couldn’t speak without slurring and that she had to be carried to the car. He is facing charges for the incident, and his bond was set at $100,000. He has also been removed as a driver for the popular rideshare app.
WHAT TO DO IF SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY A RIDESHARE DRIVER
If you are a victim of sexual assault at the hands of a rideshare driver, some steps need to be taken to protect yourself from further harm and to hold the driver and company responsible.
- Contact law enforcement and file a police report
- Seek out medical help if you have been injured and ensure that the doctors preserve DNA evidence
- Document and keep track of all information from the rideshare – messages, card charges, driver information
- Contact a lawyer who specializes in cases of rideshare sexual assault
You can file a lawsuit against the rideshare company if they fail to protect you. In fact, thousands of lawsuits to date have been filed by women against Lyft and Uber. These women have even blamed these companies for not requiring sexual harassment prevention training for their drivers and for not aiding the authorities enough during investigations of sexual assault. Lyft has been singled out for allowing drivers to continue driving even with sexual assault accusations against them.
In 2018, Rimon Kazzoo picked up a female passenger for Lyft at a bar in Bridgeport. The allegations against Kazzoo stated that he sexually assaulted the woman outside of her residence. The assault occurred after she had fallen asleep during the ride home, waking to find the driver assaulting her. The report states that she yelled “no” and scratched the man. Exiting the vehicle, noticing that her pants were down.
She told relatives that she had been attacked and swabbed her fingernails. The next morning she found her underwear in the street outside of her home, prompting her to go to Northwest Memorial Hospital where a sexual assault kit was performed. Kazzoo’s DNA was found inside and on the victim. Kazzoo is still being held on a $1 million bond.
DNA evidence is compelling in any sexual assault case. The fact that the passenger went to the hospital to have the assault kit performed provides irrefutable evidence that she was raped by the man. But why did she wait until the next morning?
Victims of sexual assault are often afraid, ashamed, or confused about the events that they just went through. Many victims don’t even report sexual assault because they don’t want to believe that it could happen to them, or they worry that retaliation by the perpetrator could follow.
LAWSUITS AGAINST UBER AND LYFT
Reports have been compiled and released regarding the number of sexual assaults that Uber and Lyft have had reported against them. Thousands of sexual assault survivors have stepped forward to speak out against the rideshare companies (3,000 have been reported for Uber alone). Civil lawsuits are flooding dockets because these companies failed to protect those using their services.
Many of the assaults occur because the passenger is intoxicated, making them easy prey. In the past, both companies have shown a nonchalant approach to handling these situations. Lyft, in particular, is being pointed at for stonewalling victims and ignoring or dismissing their claims of sexual assault by their drivers. Uber has been given praise for its cooperation in these cases.
Due to the numerous lawsuits facing both companies, they have begun making changes to create a safer ride experience for passengers and even drivers. Uber reported that their drivers have even been sexually assaulted by passengers. Overall, changes must be made in order to keep all affiliated with the rideshare companies safe.
Although the amounts vary based on the case, plaintiffs have received amounts that range between $500,000 and $1.25 million as a result of civil lawsuits against the rideshares.
WHO DO YOU CALL WHEN YOU ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED DURING A RIDESHARE?
The lawyers of TorkLaw are experts in rideshare sexual assault cases. Our lawyers help you confront the rideshare company that neglected to protect you while you were utilizing their services. Both Lyft and Uber are in the spotlight for their lack of care with the clients who lodged complaints about drivers. These clients have formally filed lawsuits against the company.
As experts in civil legal matters, TorkLaw’s layers can help to put together your case, getting you what you are entitled to. Many of these cases result in settlement offers. We know the tricks used by the defense to try and undercut the amount you are offered during this process. Having a lawyer present during settlement negotiations can help you get the maximum amount you are entitled to.
If you or a loved one have been the victims of a rideshare sexual assault, we want to hear your story. Sexual assault is a sensitive subject, no matter how it is approached, and sometimes all you need is someone to be your voice. TorkLaw wants to be that voice. We offer FREE and confidential case consultations, meaning that it costs you nothing for us to hear your case. We also receive nothing if we don’t win your lawsuit. If you want TorkLaw to handle your lawsuit against the rideshare companies and be your voice, we can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888.845.9696.