Florida Sexual Assault Civil Lawsuits Have Short Statute of Limitations Window

A recent sexual civil assault filed by a Florida woman centered on her alleged rape and resulting pregnancy involving a rideshare driver 5 years ago.Florida sexual assault lawsuit

Sexual assault civil tort claims in Florida are typically time-barred after 2 years, thanks to Florida’s statute of limitations, F.S. 95.11 (with some exceptions if the victim was a minor at the time or within the dependency of an abuser). However, this was filed as a federal claim in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, where the rideshare company is based. That state has a 10-year statute of limitations for civil sexual assault claims, which may be tolled beyond that if the individual didn’t immediately realize they’d been assaulted.

As West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers, we work with survivors of sexual assault and abuse to scour all possible means of recovery available through the civil claims process. Sometimes, that can involve claims directly against the attacker/abuser. More often though, just like in this case, claims are against a third-party, such as a property owner that failed to secure the site, an organization that failed to protect vulnerable populations, or an employer who was careless in hiring and/or employing dangerous individuals.

Florida civil sexual abuse lawsuits are entirely separate from criminal cases. It is not necessary to secure a criminal conviction to pursue a civil claim, and the proof burden is lower for civil cases than criminal matters.

Here, the defendant was the former employer of the driver accused in the attack. According to the complaint, the plaintiff is alleging the company is vicariously liable for the acts of its driver, but also directly negligent for failure to warn, breach of contract, product liability failure to warn (i.e., alleging the app was unreasonably dangerous for users), and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision. In addition to financial damages, she wants the rideshare platform to expand its safety features to include better background checks and driver monitoring.

According to media reports, the woman was drinking with friends, who ordered her a rideshare driver to get her home safely. She alleges that it was supposed to be a relatively short ride, but it turned into a nightmare. The driver reportedly insisted on “helping her inside” her residence once they arrived – purportedly due to the fact that she was intoxicated. However, once inside, she says he repeatedly raped her. She became pregnant as a result of the attack, but she did not go to the hospital or report it to either police or Lyft. While recognizing in hindsight these were actions she “should have” taken, silence in the wake of such incidents isn’t uncommon at all – especially when they aren’t the “perfect victim.” The plaintiff in this case feared she wouldn’t be believed because she was drinking alcohol. According to RAINN, only two-thirds of sexual assaults are ever reported to authorities, and a big reason is fear of not being believed, which is what the plaintiff in this case alleged.

Lyft has responded to the claim by asserting that it didn’t know about the assault until years after the fact, when the alleged attacker (who was verified via DNA test to be the father of plaintiff’s child) was no longer working for them. The company says the assault occurred during an off-app exchange. The plaintiff has countered that it was within the driver’s control to end the official ride – particularly because she had not ordered the ride for herself – and that she did not “arrange” for him to come inside her residence and did not consent to sex.

In a transparency report released in 2021, it was revealed there were 4,158 reported incidents of sexual assault on Lyft’s platform over a recent three-year time period. The company paid a $25 million settlement the following year with its shareholders for failing to disclose risks related to safety – which included reported incidents of drivers assaulting passengers.

If you have questions about the possibility of filing a Florida sexual abuse lawsuit in civil court, our West Palm Beach sexual abuse attorneys can provide answers and strategic insight.

Contact the South Florida civil sexual abuse lawsuit attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

She says she was raped by a Lyft driver and had a child. Now she’s suing, Jan. 30, 2024, By Clare Duffy and Jennifer Korn, CNN

More Blog Entries:

Judge Warns Witness Intimidation in Florida Sexual Abuse Lawsuit May Be Gross Negligence, March 10, 2024, South Florida Sexual Abuse Lawyer Blog

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