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What Has Uber Done Wrong?

Uber’s business model depends upon convincing its customers that it is safe to get into a stranger’s car. Uber admits, however, in the terms and conditions, that customers “may be exposed to transportation that is potentially dangerous, offensive, harmful to minors, unsafe or otherwise objectionable.”  They are quite successful in hiding this fact. Through past representations on its web pages, communications with customers, and in the media, Uber designs to create the impression that the company does everything it can to ensure its customers’ safety. Statements by Uber in the past include:

  • “Wherever you are around the world, Uber is committed to connecting you to the safest ride on the road.”
  • “That means setting the strictest safety standards possible, then working hard to improve them every day. The specifics vary, depending upon what local governments allow, but within each city we operate, we aim to go above and beyond local requirements to ensure your comfort and security – and what we’re doing in the US is an example of our standards around the world.”
  • Through the end of October 2014, Uber represented to its customers, “every ridesharing and livery driver is thoroughly screened through a rigorous process we’ve developed using industry-leading standards. This includes a three-step criminal background screening for the U.S. – with the county, federal and multi-state checks that go back as far as the law allows – and ongoing reviews of drivers’ motor vehicle records throughout their time on Uber.” In November of 2014, Uber changed the words “industry-leading” to “constantly improving.”
  • “All Uber ridesharing and livery partners must go through a rigorous background check that leads the industry. . . .Screening for safe drivers is just the beginning of our safety efforts. Our process includes prospective and regular checks of driver’s motor vehicle records to ensure ongoing safe driving.  Unlike the taxi industry, our background checking process and standards are consistent across the United States and often more rigorous than what is required to become a taxi driver.”

Unfortunately, Uber’s background screening process did not include national databases or fingerprinting. They simply rely on information provided by drivers without verifying their identity through fingerprints. Uber does not perform a government-based national background check, such as Livescan, through the Department of Justice.

At a minimum, Uber is responsible for negligence and battery because it is a common carrier for hire and therefore liable for acts committed by their employees. They have also been negligent in hiring, retaining, and supervising their drivers.

But most importantly, Uber’s misrepresentations amount to fraud in order to induce riders to sign up with Uber. Riders use Uber assuming they are in safe hands with a driver who has been thoroughly vetted. None of the riders we have represented thought they would be sexually assaulted by a driver.

Uber knows that riders who have been drinking and became intoxicated are using their app for a “safe ride home.”  Yet, they do nothing to ensure that intoxicated riders, especially single women, are safe with the drivers they hired.

If you were sexually assaulted by a ridesharing driver, whether you were intoxicated or not, you have a case.  Call an Uber and Lyft sexual assault lawyer at Estey & Bomberger today for a free, confidential consultation (888) 675-8555.