Since Lyft’s foundation, the rideshare company has competed aggressively with Uber to provide the safest and most affordable means of transportation on the market. Characterized by offers of free rides for job interviewees and close partnerships with national sexual assault hotlines, Lyft’s advertising presents a carefully curated image of a modern and reliable service.
However, Lyft was made aware of a growing tide of sexual assaults perpetrated by its drivers at least as early as 2015. Nevertheless, it failed to revise its inadequate background checks, insufficient safety protocol, and ineffective disciplinary measures. As a direct result of its negligence and misrepresentations, Lyft exposed predominantly young female passengers to violent attacks and prompted an uptick in Lyft sexual assault lawsuits targeting the company for its negligence that contributed to the assaults occurring.
As survivors continue to file Lyft sexual assault lawsuits, Lawsuit Legal News is on standby to offer constant updates on important developments and court filings and provide legal advice to prospective plaintiffs.
Community Safety Report Documents Thousands of Lyft Sexual Assaults
In 2021, Lyft published its first and only Community Safety Report disclosing internal data on sexual assaults that occurred through its services. Lyft had pledged to release the report 3 years earlier but continually postponed publication on account of various complications.
Only after the filing of dozens of civil lawsuits targeting the company’s lax management of sexual assault claims did Lyft HQ announce the release of the report alongside several security improvements. The report relies upon the taxonomy devised by the safety organization, RALIANCE, which includes 21 subcategories of sexual assault.
Selecting 5 of the most egregious categories, Lyft revealed that between January 2017 and December 2019 it had received 4,158 reports of sexual assault, the most common of which was the “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part”. The annual breakdown of the data is as follows:
- 2017: 1,096
- 2018: 1,255
- 2019: 1,807
In much the same way that Uber’s U.S. Safety Reports do not clearly distinguish between sexual assaults perpetrated by drivers against riders and vice versa, so too does Lyft’s presentation of the data obscure the scale of the sexual assault epidemic.
How Lyft Negligence Contributed to Sexual Assault
Over the 3-year window in the Community Safety Report, there was a noticeable annual increase in sexual assaults, despite the alleged implementation of heightened security protocol. This disturbing trend is largely a consequence of Lyft’s systemic disregard for passenger safety which various aesthetic reforms have failed to amend.
Although Lyft has sought to minimize negative publicity by unveiling robust safety features, plaintiffs assert that the company facilitated and continues to facilitate sexual assaults through:
Inadequate Background Checks of Lyft Drivers
Lyft maintains that it performs scrupulous background checks of driver applicants, automatically disqualifying those whose criminal records reveal serious sexual offenses. In reality, the company outsources its applicant screening process to Checkr, the same third-party service Uber employs.
Neither Checkr nor Lyft require applicants to attend in-person or digital interviews or to provide fingerprints for biometric verification. Instead, they request that applicants submit their Social Security Numbers and personal data, conducting a name-background check only.
This framework is designed to streamline the application process, which is an integral component of Lyft’s business model. Unfortunately, the lax requirements increase the likelihood that dangerous applicants will submit fraudulent information, evade detection, and gain close access to vulnerable populations.
Insufficient Safety Monitoring Protocol
Like Uber, Lyft sought to avoid negative publicity over its internal sexual assault epidemic while simultaneously rejecting potentially life-saving reforms. For example, the company refused to mandate the installation of dashcams, in-car recording devices, or audio surveillance technology.
Corporate management also opted not to require Lyft drivers to sync a GPS with the app, in order to record the movements and route of a given ride. This feature might very well have precluded various sexual assaults in which untracked drivers abducted or imprisoned women, followed them into their homes, or attacked them in parked cars.
Ineffective Resolution of Sexual Assault Claims
Lyft has contrasted its own internal policies for the resolution of sexual assault claims with those of Uber. For example, the company states in its 2019 report that it operates a 24/7 hotline, fields sexual assault claims against its drivers, suspends the accounts of all parties involved in a sexual assault following an accusation, and subjects reports to the utmost rigor and scrutiny.
However, survivors of Lyft driver sexual assault have claimed that the company’s purported policies rarely result in sufficient disciplinary measures against accused drivers. Instead, survivors have encountered corporate slowwalking or inconsistent follow-ups. Certain women have even claimed that they were later paired with their assailant mere weeks after an attack occurred.
For those who report an assault to law enforcement, Lyft HQ commonly refuses to disclose sensitive data to the relevant authorities or riders without court orders. As a result, survivors have struggled considerably in pursuing criminal charges and filing a restraining order hastily, further jeopardizing their personal safety and peace of mind.
Survivors of Lyft Driver Sexual Assault File Lawsuits Against Rideshare Giant
In 2019, dozens of women filed suit against Lyft in the San Francisco Superior Court, whose jurisdiction extends to the activities and malfeasance of Lyft HQ.
The litigation represented the first major effort of Lyft driver sexual assault to seek accountability and compensation from the rideshare company. Moreover, it introduced the complex legal questions associated with establishing third-party liability for rideshare sexual assaults 2 years before the groundswell of Uber litigation, in 2021.
This collective action has been followed by a number of individual personal injury lawsuits. For example, a particularly distressing case emerged in January 2024. Tabatha Means, the plaintiff, is seeking damages after her Lyft driver overpowered her while she was drunk, raping her multiple times. Despite Means rejecting his unwelcome advances during her trip, he persisted in following her into her home, where he also forced her to perform oral sex. Means became pregnant and gave birth to a premature baby after being sexually assaulted by the Lyft driver. She has filed a Lyft sexual assault lawsuit on the basis that the rideshare company did not fulfill its duty to her to actively and effectively prevent a rapist from driving for the app.
Steps to Take After Surviving Lyft Driver Sexual Assaults
If you suffered a sexual assault at the hands of a Lyft driver, the most important thing to do is extricate yourself from the situation as soon as possible. Although not every attack requires immediate medical attention, we strongly recommend that you seek assistance and care at a local hospital or clinic.
Licensed practitioners can perform forensic examinations and collect evidence that may prove crucial for future restraining orders, criminal investigations, and charges against your assailant. Moreover, seeking care does not require survivors to report their assaults or pursue legal action against their assailants.
The confusion, grief, pain, humiliation, and misery that sexual assaults can cause in survivors may prove debilitating. After seeking aid for immediate injuries, we advise survivors to consult one of several national sexual assault hotlines to receive expert counsel from trained service providers.
Liability in Lyft Sexual Assault Lawsuits
Lyft and Uber both undertook extensive lobbying campaigns to designate their drivers as “independent contractors” rather than employees. Legally speaking, the rideshare companies have exploited the classification to deny liability for the misdeeds and crimes of their drivers.
However, Lyft is still a common carrier that provides transportation services to the public. Consequently, it has a responsibility to guarantee passenger safety and honor the duty of care it owes to riders. The ongoing Lyft driver sexual assault lawsuits allege that the company breached this duty of care, lied to passengers about the safety of its services, and exposed them to severe harm.
Lyft Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuits FAQs
In contrast to the Uber sexual assault lawsuits, which were recently consolidated into a multidistrict litigation, the Lyft cases are either preliminary in nature or limited to separate courts throughout the country. In order to dispel any confusion, we have answered some common questions survivors of Lyft driver sexual assaults frequently pose.
What is a Lyft sexual assault lawsuit worth?
Lyft sexual assault settlements have largely been kept under wraps from the public, especially when the company enforced a policy of forced arbitration. While we don’t have this background information to rely on, we can look to other precedents to inform our estimated settlement value.
In general, sexual assault claims have the potential to yield high settlements. To start with, most sexual assault survivors sustain a broad spectrum of economic and non-economic damages. The emotional costs of experiencing a sexual assault can be ongoing, further increasing the value of the plaintiff’s damages.
Who Can File a Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against Lyft?
Any Lyft passenger who suffered a sexual assault perpetrated by a Lyft driver they contracted for a trip may be eligible to file a Lyft lawsuit. However, prospective plaintiffs must file their Lyft sexual assault lawsuit within the applicable statutes of limitation, which establish a legal timeframe within which a claim is valid in a court of law.
Typically, the statutes of limitation for the jurisdiction in which an assault occurred apply. In order to determine whether or not your claim is valid, we strongly recommend speaking to a qualified personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
If I Reported My Sexual Assault to Lyft, Can I Still File Suit?
Although Lyft has a poor track record for processing and resolving sexual assault reports from riders, it is still important to inform the company when an attack occurs. Submitting a report to Lyft, however, does not disqualify survivors from filing a Lyft sexual assault lawsuit against the company itself.
Instead, the submission tripwires an internal investigation and disciplinary process. Even if Lyft disputes the integrity of your claim, you still have legal recourse.
Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against a Driver Before Suing Lyft?
Survivors of Lyft driver sexual assault are not obligated to file a criminal lawsuit against their assailants before pursuing civil claims against the company. Although plaintiffs must provide sufficient proof that they suffered a sexual assault in order to hold Lyft vicariously responsible, it is not necessary to acquire a guilty verdict through a criminal trial.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Lyft Sexual Assault Claim?
We strongly encourage prospective plaintiffs to seek the assistance of a qualified sexual assault lawyer in their pursuit of justice. Given Lyft’s aggressive legal tactics and the difficult liability disputes that the litigation poses, survivors will need competent and experienced advocates to defend their rights.
A seasoned personal injury lawyer can alleviate plaintiffs of burdensome requirements, like collecting evidence and composing compelling claims, and appear before court on their clients’ behalf. These benefits are vital in litigation addressing Lyft driver sexual assault, particularly for survivors who wish to remain anonymous or tend primarily to their recovery.
Common Damages in Lyft Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuits
The physical and psychological damage originating from a violent sexual assault can haunt and beset survivors for the rest of their lives. Many survivors experience intense emotional and mental distress, which may undermine their careers or relationships with others. Others turn to substance abuse, in order to numb the pain of an attack.
Over time, these losses can rapidly accumulate and plunge survivors into dire financial and emotional straits. However, filing a Lyft rider sexual assault lawsuit enables plaintiffs to seek compensation for their injuries in the form of economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses – past, present, and future
- Lost wages and income
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of consortium
Although a variety of online services provide compensation estimates for Lyft driver sexual assault lawsuits, settlement figures for earlier claims are not public. In addition, the compensation figure for a given claim is as unique as the experiences and losses of the plaintiff requesting it. Consequently, we advise prospective plaintiffs to speak with a seasoned sexual assault lawyer to receive a reasonable estimate for their claim.
Contact an Experienced Lyft Driver Sexual Assault Lawyer Today
We are closely watching critical developments in the ongoing Lyft driver sexual assault lawsuits and offer free consultations to prospective clients. Our talented legal team possesses over 120 combined years of personal injury law experience and is intimately familiar with the intricacies of pursuing third-party litigation against rideshare companies like Uber.
Although the prospect of filing suit against Lyft may appear overwhelming, we are on standby to explain your rights and legal options, determine the eligibility of your claim, and calculate the compensation to which you may be entitled. Moreover, we work on a contingency-fee basis.
In recent years, we have staunchly defended the rights of sexual assault survivors in various sets of litigation ranging from Southern Baptist sexual abuse and human trafficking claims to clergy sexual abuse and Omegle sexual harassment cases. As a result, our rideshare sexual assault lawyers know how to advocate tirelessly on our clients’ behalf while respecting their experiences, concerns, and reservations.
For more information, contact us today.