Uber driver, Jose Antonio Canales Sanchez, was arrested in early November 2023 for sexually assaulting a 32-year-old female passenger. At the time of the attack, Sanchez was a registered Uber driver, with a checkered driving record and at least one battery charge dating back to 2007.
The anonymous survivor has since filed criminal charges against Sanchez, in which she accuses him of false imprisonment and sexual battery. In response, Uber reiterated its commitment to rider safety and stated its intention to cooperate with law enforcement. These disturbing events underscore the inherent risks of rideshare services, which in recent months have resulted in a torrent of Uber sexual assault lawsuits.
The Details of the Saint Petersburg Uber Sexual Assault
In an affidavit filed shortly after the Uber sexual assault occurred, the survivor recounts the harrowing details of the attack. The document asserts Sanchez was a verified Uber driver, whose vehicle and personal information corresponded to those listed on his driver profile.
The survivor contracted Sanchez’s services around 6:30 in the morning, on November 1. Following a series of suggestive comments from Sanchez, the driver pulled into a parking lot located on Seventh Avenue North and seemingly forced his way into the backseat by vaulting the center console.
He then attempted both to remove his own pants and those of the survivor, while groping her genitals. The passenger began to punch and scratch Sanchez on his arms and back, prompting him to exit the vehicle and flee to a neighboring building.
Uber Responds to St. Pete Rideshare Sexual Assault
Uber expressed the utmost concern over the alleged assault and promptly terminated Sanchez’s driver account. The rideshare company did not state whether it had conveyed information about Sanchez to its long-standing competitor, Lyft, as part of a recent initiative meant to combat sexual assault in the rideshare industry.
Moreover, an Uber spokesperson informed media outlets of its intention to assist law enforcement in the criminal investigation of the attack. However, Uber maintains and has staunchly defended a policy of strict driver confidentiality which other survivors of rideshare sexual assaults have claimed obstructs expeditious investigations. In many circumstances, the company requires relevant authorities to acquire court orders for any disclosure, prolonging proceedings and complicating survivors’ efforts to obtain restraining orders or file charges.
How to Prevent and Report Uber Driver Sexual Assault
Uber’s application contains various safety features that enable passengers to report irregularities and incidents to law enforcement or the rideshare company. We strongly advise any prospective Uber riders to familiarize themselves with these safety features before contracting a driver.
If an Uber passenger senses immediate danger, they can access 911 emergency services through the Uber app, which displays the location and description of the vehicle. In addition, Uber offers round-the-clock access to ADT security agents through its Live Help feature.
In the aftermath of an attack, survivors also have the option of reporting the attack to Uber itself. The submission of an incident report typically results in an internal investigation whose details the rideshare company does not share with law enforcement.
Responding to Rideshare Sexual Assault
Survivors of rideshare sexual assault have multiple options, aside from reporting the incident to Uber. The most important thing is to seek medical treatment, to decrease the risk of the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. In addition, select healthcare providers at hospitals and women’s clinics are trained to complete physical examinations using “rape kits”, which collect an assailant’s DNA samples.
Given the immediate trauma of an attack, some survivors may refuse to refer the matter to law enforcement. Seeking treatment for a sexual assault does not obligate survivors to report the attack. Instead, it guarantees the health and safety of survivors while also preserving evidence for future actions.
For long-term assistance and recovery, multiple national sexual assault hotlines enable survivors to speak privately with expert representatives and receive advice on how best to proceed. The most authoritative sexual assault service is operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), which maintains a commitment to anonymity and confidentiality.
Legal Options for Survivors of Uber Driver Sexual Assault
Regardless of a sexual assault survivor’s final decision on whether or not to file a sexual assault lawsuit, we strongly believe that they should be fully informed of their options. Survivors of Uber sexual assaults can file criminal charges against their assailants, as did the unidentified passenger in the November 2023 attack.
However, they also have the right to file a civil suit against the rideshare company itself, for failing to guarantee the safety of passengers. Since 2022, many women have pursued Uber driver sexual assault lawsuits in local and federal courts which accuse the company of making misrepresentations about the safety of its services and relying upon negligent application protocol.
Uber Sexual Assault Multidistrict Litigation
In the final quarter of 2023, a federal panel known as the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated dozens of claims for pretrial proceedings in a procedure known as multidistrict litigation (MDL). The Uber sexual assault MDL is located in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In MDLs, plaintiffs who filed suit in jurisdictions throughout the country can seek enrollment for the discovery process, bellwether trials, and even pretrial settlement negotiations.
As of December 2023, 153 survivors have joined the MDL in pursuit of accountability and damages, including:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages and income
- Pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
Contact an Experienced Uber Driver Sexual Assault Lawyer for Assistance
In a free and confidential consultation, our legal team of rideshare sexual assault lawyers can provide survivors of Uber driver attacks with the information they need to make a decision that best protects their rights while also respecting their boundaries. We possess over 120 combined years of personal injury law experience and have a long history of delivering results to our clients we work closely with throughout the entire process.
For more information, contact us today.