When riders are assaulted by rideshare drivers, companies like Uber may be liable for damages. Inadequate training, insufficient background checks, and other forms of negligence can result in rideshare company liability. Uber has hidden the fact that a significant number of Uber drivers assault, extort, and otherwise put their passengers’ health and safety at risk. As the company has grown, so too have the number of reports of criminal assaults and injuries caused by aggressive and violent drivers.
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Violence and Sexual Assaults
From 2014 to 2018, there were 103 instances of Uber drivers who were accused of sexual assaults or other forms of abuse against their passengers. These assaults include rape, harassment, false imprisonment, assault with deadly weapons, and more. Of those who have been criminally prosecuted, 31 individuals have been found guilty. Moreover, it is estimated that there are a considerable number of rapes and assaults that have not been reported to the authorities.
Minimal Background Checks
Each day, the company transports more than 15 million riders in 630 cities around the world. This places a considerable number of people at risk of injury and physical harm. Following public outcry and pressure from legislators, Uber reluctantly agreed to enhance their background check procedures in 2017. However, the company only requires a background check that goes back seven years be performed once every two years. Moreover, the system only flags those who have been convicted of violent crimes and does not include a psychological screening profile that would exclude potentially dangerous drivers from their program.
Uber and other ride-sharing providers are not “off the hook” for the actions of their contractors. The company can be held liable in cases where it can be shown that inadequate training, insufficient background checks, and other circumstances facilitated the assault. Further, the question of whether Uber drivers are contractors are employees is currently under debate. That’s because Uber does exercise a certain amount of control over the type of vehicle, routes, and whether to hire/fire drivers. While Uber has argued that they are merely a technology company, the courts have determined that they are not and are more akin to a common carrier such as bus operators and taxi companies. These rulings mean that Uber can be held liable for the negligence of their drivers.