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Can those assaulted by rideshare drivers sue the apps?

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2024 | Rideshare Assaults

Rideshare services proliferated quickly after their creation because they are a convenient option. People don’t have to plan ahead of time to access public transit locations or wait hours for a taxi to arrive.

They can quickly order pick-up service even when they are unfamiliar with the local terrain. They don’t have to plan ahead to order a ride in most cases and can count on someone sober taking them home after a party or a wild night out with friends. The vast majority of rideshare rides are uneventful. The passenger requests the pickup, enters a vehicle, reaches their destination safely and probably tips their driver.

Some rideshare experiences are not that smooth. There have been hundreds of reported cases in which rideshare drivers have physically attacked or sexually assaulted their passengers. Can injured passengers sue rideshare companies for those assaults?

Employer liability laws likely do not apply

As a general rule, businesses tend to have liability for the negligence or misconduct of their employees. If a worker makes a mistake while on the clock and causes a crash, their employer might be liable to anyone injured in the incident.

Unfortunately, rideshare companies manipulate a legal loophole by calling their drivers independent contractors instead of employees. This diminishes the company’s legal culpability for the actions of its workers. However, rideshare customers could still be in a position to take legal action after assaults or other violent incidents during a rideshare trip.

It is often possible to take legal action against the driver, and the company could have a degree of liability as well. Many such claims have already made their way to court, and judges have started paying close attention to these cases.

Those injured by someone with a history of violence or criminal activity could potentially raise a claim that the company was negligent. The failure to properly vet the background of individual drivers creates unnecessary risk for the passengers entering those vehicles. It may be possible to hold rideshare companies accountable for allowing those with prior criminal records or other concerning blemishes in their personal history to transport those seeking a safe ride.

Typically, those trying to take legal action against rideshare companies must gather evidence of what occurred and review the policies of the specific company. Both Uber and Lyft have internal policies that may influence how an individual develops their claim.

Taking legal action against a business for criminal incidents during rideshare trips can compensate those harmed during what should be a safe ride to their destination.