As a multidistrict litigation progresses against Uber, it appears the rideshare company has yet to heed calls from sexual assault survivors to reform their insufficient safety practices. In what is becoming an all too familiar story, a UC Irvine college student was raped by her Uber driver who had multiple convictions and charges for abusive behavior. In her Uber sexual assault lawsuit, the plaintiff has leveled a litany of accusations against the rideshare provider for its failure to disqualify the driver based on his prior records as well as its lack of follow-up after the incident.
This absence of concern for riders’ safety is the subject of thousands of active sexual assault lawsuits against Uber. Our team at Lawsuit Legal News is actively taking clients who have been sexually assaulted by a rideshare driver and using our wealth of experience to help them recover the compensation they are entitled to. We urge you to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible by calling (866) 535-9515 or filling out our online contact form.
Predatory Uber Driver Who Sexually Assaulted Student Avoided Detection During Background Check
In April 2023, a UC Irvine student made the responsible choice to avoid driving drunk. Instead, she called an Uber to transport her back to her home, trusting that the rideshare company had taken the appropriate steps to verify her driver’s identity and ensure that there were no safety concerns. This was the first way in which Uber failed to protect her, as her representatives would later outline in an Uber sexual assault lawsuit. Unbeknownst to her at the time, her Uber was driven by a man named Daniel Mercado, who had an alarming criminal history.
Despite having a record of child abuse and neglect, as well as domestic violence, he was still approved to drive for Uber. Uber background checks have long been the subject of criticism. The rideshare giant now claims to run background checks on drivers annually, but it has relied on limited records from regional courthouses instead of more extensive federal data to evaluate criminal histories.
The third-party service Uber uses does not rely on biometrics to confirm a potential driver’s identity, nor does it typically interview applicants as part of the vetting stage. Had Uber’s hiring process correctly identified Mercado as a dangerous person and rejected his application, an innocent college student would not have been sexually assaulted minutes from her home in the middle of the night by a man who was a known threat.
Uber Did Not Contact Authorities After Attempts to Reach the Rider Went Unanswered
The Irvine student’s sexual assault case is a prime example of how Uber's negligence can allow sexual predators to take advantage of the control and relative privacy afforded to them to perpetrate an assault. Mercado exploited the fact that the plaintiff was alone and drunk, and when she was unconscious he seized the opportunity to make a detour and park. This triggered an alert in the Uber app. Meanwhile, Daniel Mercado raped the incapacitated woman.
It was at this point that the Irvine student was failed again by Uber. As a part of a campaign to prioritize rider safety, Uber created the in-app feature that would track rides, identify concerning activity, and contact the rider to confirm whether there was an issue. This feature effectively becomes decorative when Uber employees or contractors responsible for monitoring the warning system do not take action to help a rider who does not respond.
For the UC Irvine student, this could have meant that Daniel Mercado was apprehended by police at the scene of the crime. Instead, no law enforcement or medical personnel were notified of the crime until the survivor contacted the local police force. According to the latest information published by the LA Times, Mercado was able to escape and has thus far, evaded consequences for raping the student. The plaintiff's Uber sexual assault attorneys believe this constitutes a negligent undertaking on Uber’s behalf.
Uber’s Failure to Protect or Support Sexually Assaulted Passenger
Thousands of Uber passengers, mostly women and girls, have submitted reports to Uber after being groped, stalked, harassed, raped, and otherwise violated by rideshare drivers who had passed Uber’s background check. Many were effectively ignored after they notified Uber about being sexually assaulted. The San Francisco Superior Court is currently handling a consolidated group of 1,533 sexual assault lawsuits against Uber involving similar concerns. Representatives for Uber have petitioned for the UC Irvine student’s claim to be added.
Presumably, Uber’s attorneys recognize there is clear evidence connecting Uber’s deficient background check system to Mercado’s overlooked criminal history, which created the circumstances for the plaintiff’s sexual assault and resulting damages.
Uber's Liability For Driver Sexual Assault
On its own, the claim is compelling, which could result in a quicker and more substantial settlement. That could set a precedent for the other pending Uber sexual assault lawsuits, which Uber’s attorneys would want to avoid. The plaintiff's attorneys believe they have a strong case for compensation and want to keep their client’s claim separate from the ongoing state-level litigation or the federal Uber sexual assault multidistrict litigation.
Aspects of the Irvine student’s case could provide a more definitive argument for Uber’s negligence. For instance, many of the Uber sexual assault lawsuits assert that the rideshare company could have disqualified a dangerous driver if it had included additional safeguards in its vetting process, such as using fingerprints. In the UC Irvine student’s claim, Uber failed to identify a sexual predator using its own existing standards that preclude drivers with violent criminal records from working for the app.
Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer About Filing an Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit
While condemning the actions of predatory drivers and unveiling a flurry of safety features, Uber has simultaneously failed to protect riders by making common sense adjustments in how it operates. Sexual assault survivors across the country have paid the price in medical bills for sexual assault injuries, life-altering emotional trauma, and damage to relationships and careers. At Lawsuit Legal News, our team of experienced Uber sexual assault attorneys refuses to let this negligence go unanswered.
Based on decades of combined experience representing injured clients, we understand the unique challenges of evidence collection in sexual assault cases, the obstacles involved in establishing liability, and the most effective methods for maximizing compensation.