Meirowitz & Wasserberg LLP

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Are rideshare services safe for passengers?

In just the past decade, rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft have catapulted from small startups to dominant forces in the U.S. business landscape. Capitalizing on the growing gig economy and advancing smartphone tech, it’s now hard to run into someone who hasn’t hitched a ride with one of the services.
Despite their overwhelming presence, both companies are dealing with a seriously troubling issue: sexual assault allegations made by riders.

Uber reveals hundreds of rape complaints

Recent revelations give the public a glimpse of the extent of these incidents. According to a CNN story, Uber recently offered details of reported safety incidents in 2017 and 2018. During those years, the company received 5,981 reports of sexual assault.
Among them were 464 reports of rape.
About 92% of those people were passengers, the rest drivers. Women comprised nearly nine out of every 10 reporting victims.
Lyft, meanwhile, is facing a growing number of lawsuits over allegations of sexual misconduct by drivers. According to another CNN report, dozens of women have filed suits against the company, saying drivers have sexually abused, raped or masturbated in front of passengers. Uber has faced similar lawsuits.

Plaintiffs go after the companies

Uber and Lyft have touted their safety improvements over the years, including new in-app features. Both companies also eliminated policies that forced riders who’d been sexually assaulted to resolve the complaint through arbitration while signing a non-disclosure agreement.
Still, in many of these cases referenced above, women are choosing to file civil suits not only against the perpetrator, but against Uber or Lyft. The complaints usually make similar allegations: That each company has failed to implement measures and policies that ensure the safety of passengers.
In cases where an organization fails to respond to abuse or harassment, including by not instituting proper safeguards, victims can take action. They can seek damages for things like medical expenses, as well as emotional anguish as a result of the incident, and in some cases, even help prevent others from having to endure the same thing.

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