When you’re driving for Uber or another rideshare service, you’re bound to interact with strangers. It’s part of the job description. Unfortunately, Uber drivers’ concerns don’t end with rude passengers.
Driving a rideshare vehicle may also expose you to people with malicious intentions. In fact, it’s all too common for Uber drivers in New Jersey to be assaulted.
If you have been attacked or assaulted in your capacity as an Uber driver, here’s what you need to know. Contrary to popular belief, you may be able to pursue financial compensation—not only from your assailant, if identified, but potentially also from the rideshare company for failing to protect you.
Cases involving an assault on an Uber driver are very fact-specific. To fully understand what legal options may be available to you, you’re going to need help from an experienced New Jersey Uber driver injury attorney.
At Console & Associates, P.C., we’ve been fighting for the rights of injured Uber drivers for years. We can help you navigate the complex legal process and recover the compensation you deserve. Call 866-778-5500 today for your free, confidential case review or complete our online form.
Uber drivers accounted for one-quarter of all physical assault fatalities involving the rideshare company, according to the most recent Uber U.S. Safety Report, published in June 2022, which covered data on critical safety incidents that occurred in 2019 and 2020. The overall rate of physical assault fatalities—which includes both passenger and driver victims—climbed by 18% compared to the previous safety report, which encompassed incidents that occurred in 2017 and 2018.
The report does not provide data on non-fatal physical assaults.
Sexual violence, too, is an all-too-common crime in general and in situations involving rideshare companies in particular. All told, 1.4 billion sexual assaults of all categories were reported to Uber in 2019, and 650 million sexual assaults were reported in 2020. However, Uber’s report doesn’t break down whether the victims (or perpetrators) of these sexual assaults were Uber drivers, riders, or third parties.
Sometimes the assault comes from one or more passengers in the vehicle. The assailant may wait until they reach their destination to attack their rideshare driver or begin assaulting them en route.
In some cases, passengers have lured the driver out of the car—say, by pretending to need help to look for a lost cell phone—to more effectively harm them. Other times, the passengers forcibly removed the Uber driver from the vehicle, either by physical force or threats of violence. Some of these attacks have been seemingly planned in advance by riders who used fake names in the ridesharing apps. Other such attacks have apparently been spontaneous, often following a disagreement or confrontation of some kind between the passenger and the Uber driver.
Passengers aren’t the only perpetrators of violence against Uber drivers.In some cases, violent predators catch Uber drivers off guard while they are awaiting ride requests or making stops. According to Uber’s report, these “third parties were also the accused party in the majority of physical assault fatalities.” Their intention in attacking or assaulting the Uber driver may include robbery or carjacking or may be sexual in nature. In the cases of some violent assaults on Uber drivers, the motive for the attack remains a mystery.
Know your legal options.
When Uber drivers have been assaulted by their riders, the best lead that law enforcement officers have to find the attacker may well be the information the rider provided in setting up their Uber account. Yet when subpoenaed for details about the passenger, the rideshare company has historically failed to comply with this request in a timely manner, The Verge reported in December 2022.
This failure doesn’t only leave hanging assaulted drivers, who need no reminder that their attackers may still be at large. By holding up police investigations, Uber may be giving assailants the opportunity to strike again.
That’s what happened in the spring of 2021, when, The Verge reported, it took Uber three weeks to provide criminal investigators with the requested information about the passenger alleged to have robbed and carjacked Uber driver Brian Blagoue at gunpoint in St. Louis. By the time Uber finally provided the information, the same suspect was now wanted in connection with the subsequent murder and carjacking of a Lyft driver that occurred at the same location.
The information Uber eventually provided allowed police to arrest the suspect within one day. If only Uber had provided the suspect’s information more quickly, could the subsequent fatal carjacking the suspect later committed have been avoided in the first place?
Unfortunately, this delay in complying with law enforcement requests for data doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident.
“Lawsuits against the company and accounts from Uber employees say the ride-hailing giant can drag its feet when cooperating with police,” The Verge reported. “The consequences of such stalling can have a grim effect on driver safety.”
An Uber spokesperson was quoted in the article published in The Verge as saying, “We try to respond in a timely manner” and “Delays in response can happen for a number of reasons.” Yet the article also quotes former Uber Law Enforcement Response Specialist Soha Malik, who said she was instructed to “give out as little information as possible since their job was to ‘protect the client’” when answering law enforcement requests for information. According to The Verge, Malik was criticized for giving law enforcement agencies “too much user information” and was ultimately terminated from her job after she “repeatedly brought up concerns about how Uber was complying with court documents.”
It isn’t only anecdotal evidence that points to what many would see as a low level of compliance with law enforcement data requests. According to the company’s own Transparency Report, Uber complied with—that is, disclosed “some” user data per law enforcement requests—only 55.5% of such requests in 2021. Notably, the category of requests that Uber was least likely to comply with was emergency requests. The company disclosed the requested data less than half the time in these urgent situations.
A failure to disclose user information promptly on Uber’s part may further victimize the drivers who have been assaulted and are anxiously awaiting justice. These delays may even allow suspects the opportunity to commit repeat assaults and attacks that can claim the lives of rideshare drivers.
We are here to help.
When it comes to Uber driver assaults, the headlines are nothing short of horrifying.
Across NJ and nationwide, there are Uber drivers punched in the face, attacked with bricks, and robbed at gunpoint.
Uber drivers have been beaten up by multiple assailants—in some cases, ambushed or ganged up on by as many as four, five, or even seven assailants.
Some Uber drivers escape a dangerous situation physically unscathed but have to carry the trauma of being carjacked or threatened at knifepoint or gunpoint for years. For others, the harm is even greater. Drivers have wound up with black eyes, broken bones, and injuries that keep them from getting back behind the wheel—limiting their freedom and quality of life along with their earning potential. Sexual assaults, particularly of female Uber drivers, happen entirely too often.
Alarming reports of attacks on Uber drivers describe assaults that leave the rideshare driver injured, hospitalized, or even in a coma. Some Uber drivers are killed on the job in senseless acts of violence—having been beaten to death, shot, or stabbed.
These terrible attacks occur in New Jersey as well as the rest of America. A 21-year-old Uber driver reported being assaulted with a seat belt by his 44-year-old passenger while driving on the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in 2019, NorthJersey.com reported.
In December 2019, an Uber driver in Upper Freehold Township suffered facial injuries when an attacker threw a hammer at him, local media station 92.7 WOBM reported.
A female Uber driver in Paterson, NJ, was sexually assaulted when her 30-year-old male passenger threatened her at gunpoint if she didn’t perform sex acts in February 2020, NBC News reported. The passenger’s gun turned out to be fake—but the rideshare driver didn’t know that.
A Union, NJ, Uber driver was attacked so brutally by his passengers in October 2022 that he required eye surgery, according to a GoFundMe campaign the rideshare driver set up upon realizing that his insurance wouldn’t cover the procedure.
The list of Uber drivers assaulted goes on. If you were attacked or assaulted behind the wheel while driving for Uber, you—unfortunately—have plenty of company.
If you have been attacked or assaulted while driving for Uber, you should report the crime to the local authorities right away. Your attacker deserves to face the consequences of their criminal behavior.
In some circumstances, you may also have grounds for a civil claim through which you can seek financial compensation. Your attacker going to jail may help you feel safer and give you a sense of justice, but this outcome won’t help you heal and recover from the physical wounds you have suffered or the emotional trauma of the assault. Compensation obtained through an Uber driver assault lawsuit can help you afford the care you need to make the best possible recovery.
This compensation can also help make you (and your family) financially whole. In some cases, Uber drivers injured in assaults while working for the rideshare company may have the grounds to seek compensation for lost wages. Your injuries may, temporarily or permanently, cause you to miss out on the income you used to earn as an Uber driver. The disabilities that can result from a serious assault may also prevent you from earning income in other capacities. If driving for Uber was a part-time side hustle you performed along with your full-time job, your injuries may prevent you from returning to your full-time job, as well.
How do you go about seeking financial compensation for an Uber driver assault? You’re going to need an experienced NJ Uber driver assault attorney who understands the intricacies of the law and the complex legal process. When you choose Console & Associates, P.C. to represent you in your New Jersey Uber driver assault claim, we’ll handle every aspect of your claim. We’ll take care of the legal requirements, so you can just focus on your recovery.
The last thing you need right now is another source of stress, like worrying about expensive legal fees. That’s why Console & Associates, P.C. represents all of our clients on a no-win, no-fee basis. You’ll pay nothing upfront for our legal services, and you will only ever owe in attorneys’ fees a fraction of the compensation we succeed in getting for you.