Rideshares are convenient and ubiquitous in most major US cities. However, convenience is not the same as safety. Companies like Uber and Lyft are in the business of getting people from point A to point B, not keeping people safe. That’s why it’s, unfortunately, no surprise that the risk of sexual assault and other injuries caused by rideshares remains high.
Just last month, an Uber driver was arrested for sexually assaulting a college student as he drove her home late at night. According to the police report, the student was attacked as a passenger while inside the driver’s vehicle after she fell asleep.
This is far from the only assault rideshare riders have suffered. According to Uber’s own numbers, more than 3000 people are sexually assaulted during Uber rides each year. Lyft faces similar issues, and one San Francisco woman sued the company, alleging that not only was she kidnapped across state lines and raped, but the company also forced her to pay for the ride afterward. Other riders have been physically assaulted and sent to the hospital by the people they paid to drive them.
These assaults are just one type of risk posed by rideshares. There are many ways you could be injured in a rideshare as a passenger or even as another road user. Here’s what you need to know about these risks and how you can hold drivers and their employers accountable for your injuries.
Risks Posed by Rideshares
Sexual and physical assault is all too common by rideshare drivers, but it is far from the only danger they pose to riders. While it is less sensationalized, the biggest threat these drivers cause is the risk of car accidents. Rideshares are more likely to cause crashes because the entire industry is structured in a way that makes drivers less likely to drive safely. Some of the biggest problems include:
The average Uber or Lyft driver faces more distractions than other road users. They rely on phone apps for most aspects of the work. At a minimum, they need to look at their phone to confirm new rides and see where they’re going next. They often need to do this while navigating traffic, which makes them less likely to notice road signs, other cars, or pedestrians in time to avoid crashes.
Furthermore, rideshare drivers often rely on map applications to know where they’re going. If a driver is in an unfamiliar area relying on the map, they may be too distracted looking at the map to respond to road conditions and stay safe.
Pressure to Work Tired
Uber and Lyft are some of the best-known “gig economy” businesses, meaning many of their workers are giving rides as a second job. Furthermore, these workers are often incentivized to drive late at night to pick up people going home from bars. Both circumstances mean that workers are likely to drive while fatigued.
Severe fatigue can be almost as dangerous behind the week as driving drunk. Nationally, there are at least 91,000 accidents and 50,000 injuries annually because of drowsy driving. The CDC estimated that as many as 6,000 deaths yearly are caused by sleepy drivers. The conditions at rideshare companies make it significantly more likely that drivers will be on the road drowsy and putting riders and other road users at risk.
Incentives to Break Traffic Laws
In addition to the problems above, unspoken incentives encourage rideshare workers to drive dangerously. They are paid by ride and distance, so they are encouraged to pick up as many rides as possible and complete them as quickly as possible to earn more money. While Uber and Lyft attempt to screen for safe drivers, these incentives can encourage even safe drivers to speed and cut corners to get somewhere a little quicker. These traffic violations make rideshares less predictable than other vehicles and can make accidents more likely and dangerous.
How to Hold Rideshare Drivers and Companies Accountable
When Uber and Lyft first burst onto the scene, there was significant legal confusion about assigning liability for accidents and injuries caused by gig drivers. However, the process is better defined now that ridesharing services have been established for nearly a decade. Workers are required to have specific insurance to cover accidents on the job, and precedent has been set that supports specific claims against ridesharing companies, too.
This means that if you’ve been hurt in a rideshare accident, you have options. After you’ve been injured, here’s what to do:
- Document the incident: Report the incident to the police and the rideshare company, then save copies of these reports and any responses or other information you receive about it.
- Document your injuries: Seek medical treatment as soon as possible and request copies of your medical record to demonstrate the severity of the damage.
- Talk to an attorney: An experienced attorney will assist you with the issues above and help you build your case against the driver and potentially their employer to help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
Fight for Compensation With Expert Legal Counsel
Whether you’ve been injured in a rideshare accident or assaulted by a driver, you deserve compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. However, insurance companies and ridesharing companies have entire legal teams dedicated to attempting to deny these types of claims. That is why you should consult with an experienced, dedicated personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you are hurt.At the Law Offices of Gomez & Gomez, we are prepared to assist you with your rideshare accident claim. We understand the intricacies of law and precedent surrounding ridesharing injuries. We are strong advocates for clients like you, who want to hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries and receive just compensation for your losses. Start that process by scheduling your initial consultation with our expert attorneys today.