Seventeen Lyft drivers and passengers are suing the rideshare company with 18 separate lawsuits after they were physically or sexually assaulted while using the app.
Six of the 17 survivors, including male and female drivers and passengers from across the country, spoke about their experiences and expressed their intent to sue Lyft during a Wednesday press conference.
Katherine Rosta, a Lyft passenger from Phoenix who was sexually assaulted by a driver, said she moved homes and changed her phone number after she was attacked out of fear that the perpetrator — her driver — would find her again.
"Lyft needs to invest in more safety features, like dashcams to record the rides," Rosta said through tears on Wednesday. "Sexual abuse in Lyft rides needs to stop. What happened to me should not happen to anyone. We all deserve a safe driving experience."
Amy Collins was a Lyft driver from Napa, California, was also sexually assaulted while transporting a rider.
"Now, I rarely leave the house. I'm distant from my friends and loved ones. I even bought a new car because the old one was a daily reminder of the assault," Collins said. "Lyft provided…training on how to handle situations like this, and I didn't learn about my rights as a driver until later, [when] I came across a Facebook group for Lyft drivers."
Two other Lyft drivers, a man from Connecticut and woman from Chicago, also detailed their experiences being physically assaulted by passengers. The female survivor from Chicago said Lyft offered her $350 as compensation for her experience.
The drivers and riders are asking Lyft to implement new or improved safety measures, including dashboard cameras for drivers and better background checks on drivers for passengers.
Adam Wolf, a partner at the national law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise, which is filing the lawsuits, called the incidents that occur on Lyft "a national crisis."
"Lyft knows of countless complaints by Lyft passengers who have been attacked by drivers and Lyft drivers who have been attacked by Lyft passengers. Combined with the numerous criminal investigations of these incidents by law enforcement, there is no question that Lyft is fully aware of the continuing attacks and dangers posed to those using its platform. But Lyft's response to this crisis — it's been appalling."
Wolf alleged that Lyft continues to hire drivers who go on to commit crimes and allows passengers with a history of incidents to continue using the app.
A Lyft spokesperson said the app is "committed to helping keep drivers and riders safe."
"While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many," the spokesperson said. "Our goal is to make every Lyft ride as safe as possible, and we will continue to take action and invest in technology, policies and partnerships to do so."
The spokesperson added that Pfiefer Wolf attorneys made "a number of false and/or misleading claims may have been made by the attorneys" on Wednesday.
More than 99% of Lyft rides occur without any safety issues, according to the company. For example, between 2017 and 2019, Lyft reported a sexual assault incident rate of 0.00002%. It has also recently implemented safety measures such as location sharing, emergency help by ADT, "smart trip check-in," a two-way feedback system with Lyft and contact protection.
Additionally, all drivers are subject to background screenings.
This post has been updated to reflect that 17 plaintiffs ultimately filed cases against Lyft, not 18.