When Uber published its first U.S. Safety Report in 2019, Lyft signaled its intentions to do the same. However, the company postponed publication until the final quarter of 2021, at which time it confronted civil litigation over its alleged mishandling of sexual assaults committed by drivers.
The 16-page Community Safety Report covers not only sexual assault, physical violence, and vehicular fatalities but also a series of reforms Lyft devised and implemented in response to the lawsuits. Although the novel procedures purport to resolve Lyft’s inadequate management of sexual assault incidents, they fail to replace the company’s insufficient background check process and have not been subject to further review.
The affiliated lawyers of Lawsuit Legal News are currently accepting clients for both Uber and Lyft sexual assault lawsuits and offer free consultations to prospective clients.
Lyft Received 4,158 Sexual Assault Reports from 2017 to 2019
The Lyft Community Safety Report uses the sexual assault taxonomy introduced by the authoritative organization RALIANCE to organize the deluge of reports it received between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019. In order to certify the company’s findings, Lyft submitted the report to the independent Chertoff Group for additional review.
Although Lyft reports that over 99% of its rides took place without any incident, the annual breakdown of sexual assault data reveals a steady increase within the timeframe of the study. Of the five categories of sexual assault included in the review, non-consensual touching of a sexual body part accounted for 2,300 of the 4,158 reports either submitted to the company, reported to law enforcement, or detailed on social media.
Interpreting the data, however, poses several problems. For example, Lyft fails to separate between rates of assault for passengers and drivers, despite possessing the report profiles. It also refrains from addressing the reason behind a sharp increase in assaults in 2019, which occurred in the midst of new safety feature rollouts.
Lyft Announces New Safety Features and Reforms
Prior to the publication of the 2021 Community Safety Report, corporate management at Lyft was busily devising a series of reforms to overhaul the company’s inadequate protocol and diminish the likelihood of violent assaults. The first major reform pertained to the convention of a Safety Advisory Council of independent experts, to identify procedural shortcomings and create solutions.
In addition, Lyft expanded its cohort of Safety Specialists, who receive extensive training to process and resolve alarming reports of sexual violence and emphasized the mandatory sexual assault prevention program for drivers.
The rideshare company also reiterated preexisting safety features and introduced new additions to application software, including:
- Smart Trip Check-In
- Critical Response Line
- Mutual Driver-Rider Reviews
- In-app 911 button
Sexual Assault Lawsuits Claim Lyft Failed to Guarantee Rider Safety
The primary impetus for Lyft’s Community Safety Report and attendant reforms was a set of sexual assault litigation that accused the company of misleading and endangering the public. Between August and December 2019, multiple women filed complaints in which they allege that Lyft’s routine security failures and misrepresentations exposed vulnerable populations to serious sexual violence.
The litigation was one of the first major challenges to Lyft’s extensive legal protections from liability for the misdeeds of its drivers. In effect, rideshare drivers for companies like Lyft and Uber are “independent contractors” and not employees, a designation the competitors solicited from state legislatures and regulators after protracted lobbying campaigns.
Consequently, liability and responsibility for the criminal actions or car accidents of rideshare ICs had previously seldom fallen to the companies themselves. However, the Lyft driver sexual assault lawsuits use various legal theories to circumvent these carveouts and hold the company both vicariously liable for the crimes of its drivers and directly responsible for various charges, like:
- General negligence
- Intentional misrepresentation
- Common carrier negligence
- Negligent failure to warn
Name-Based Background Checks Increased Risk of Fraudulence
One of the primary issues the rideshare sexual assault lawsuits raise pertains to Lyft’s inadequate employment vetting practices, which directly contributed to the company’s sexual violence woes. Both Uber and Lyft employ the same independent company to conduct background checks on driver applicants.
Checkr touts its services as reliable, swift, and accurate. Unfortunately, the protocol it uses prioritizes quick turnarounds over thoroughness. For example, Checkr only performs name background checks, cross-referencing the limited personal information applicants provide with an assortment of public databases and county courthouses.
In practice, this process increases the risk of false positives and false negatives and enables applicants to submit fraudulent, inaccurate, or incomplete information. As a result, it is highly likely that the company failed to gain access to private databases through the use of biometric indicators and cleared otherwise ineligible individuals.
Lyft HQ’s Subpar Protocol for Addressing Sexual Assault Claims
Lyft’s 2021 reforms introduced considerable modifications to the company’s resolution of sexual assault claims, like the suspension of accused drivers throughout the course of internal investigations and the prohibition of future communications between drivers and riders who received poor reviews.
However, the 9-year period prior to the reforms was characterized by carelessness and suppression. Survivors of Lyft driver sexual assault have described the company’s response as a mixture of inconsistency and stubbornness, composed of erratic follow-ups to incident reports and noncooperation with active criminal investigations.
One of the consequences of this system was the failure of internal reviews to result in temporary suspensions or termination, leading some survivors to match with their assailants in the future. With the active Lyft sexual assault litigation, these manifest examples of mismanagement have bolstered plaintiffs’ argument of corporate negligence and negligent retention of employees.
Lyft’s Misrepresentations to the Public
As a common carrier, Lyft has both an ethical and legal obligation to properly inform its customers of any and all risks they run from the use of its services. Nevertheless, the company failed to supplement its various outreach campaigns, like the “It’s On Us” initiative, with vital information on passenger safety.
Since 2015, Lyft has known of the problem sexual assaults perpetrated by its independent contractors posed to passenger safety. However, it continually advertised its services as safe and reliable while intentionally withholding sexual assault data, postponing reforms, and misleading the public. This inexcusable behavior encouraged particularly young women to rely upon Lyft’s services for transportation, thereby exposing them to predatory drivers.
Common Damages in Lyft Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuits
The recovery process for violent sexual assaults can cost survivors time, money, and peace of mind. Although the physical toll of an attack may require weeks or months to heal, the emotional impact often lasts years.
The tragic consequences of sexual violence often discourage survivors from pursuing accountability and justice for their injuries, while the thought of seeking compensation for a severe attack seem to many either insulting or unbearable.
Nevertheless, we maintain that all survivors should be informed of their rights and legal options before making a personal decision about whether or not to file a Lyft lawsuit. In Lyft driver sexual assault lawsuits, plaintiffs have the opportunity to request economic, noneconomic, and punitive damages for their losses which address:
- Medical costs
- Therapy expenses
- Lost income and wages
- Pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of consortium
Contact an Experienced Lyft Sexual Assault Lawyer for Help
Lyft has not published a subsequent Community Safety Report, which makes it difficult to assess the efficacy of its reforms or the extent to which the company enforces them. Ultimately, Lyft’s history of negligence has resulted in serious harm to vulnerable passengers, and we are determined to hold them accountable.
Our legal team has extensive experience confronting rideshare companies in court and considerable knowledge on the complex liability questions sexual assault litigation poses. In addition, in recent years, our sexual assault lawyers have worked round the clock to get justice and compensation for the survivors of school sex abuse, human trafficking, and clergy child exploitation.
We strive to provide the survivors of sexual abuse and assault with an understanding and secure environment while effectively advocating on their behalf.
If you have any questions about your rights, legal options, or compensation, contact us today.