Many industries provide assistance to those who are mentally challenged. Loved ones and family members rely on these industries to help those with physical and mental disabilities lead independent lives. While the majority of these services are provided without issue, occasionally there are significant problems. A growing number of mentally challenged individuals using bus services have been placed into situations where they have become the victims of sexual assault either from drivers or fellow riders. When these acts occur, the responsibility of the bus driver and busing company comes into question.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault can cover a wide range of actions. In basic terms, it's a sexual act committed without the consent of the victim. These charges can carry criminal penalties and victims may be able to pursue damages against those who allowed these actions to occur. While rape is certainly one type of sexual assault, it's not the only act that carries such a label. Indecent exposure, inappropriate touching, unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment could also be categorized as sexual assault, depending on the facts of the case.
Frequently, bus drivers may be the ones who commit the assault. They may force their riders to engage in unwanted sexual activity, placing the mentally challenged individual in a no-win situation. Victims of sexual assault can have a difficult time getting anyone to believe that the assault actually occurred. Those who have problems communicating due to developmental disabilities may have trouble articulating that the offenses happened, allowing for the potential for repeated abuse.
Victims Have Options & Rights
Bus companies have an obligation to hire safe drivers. For drivers responsible for transporting those with mental or physical disabilities, additional obligations may arise. Not only do companies need to check the driving history of the drivers they employ, they need to be sure that the drivers they hire will not take advantage of riders with special needs. Companies that place riders in harmful situations may be negligent for failing to supervise employees. Speak to an experienced attorney to discuss the facts of your situation.