Liudmila Valladares, an Uber driver from Miami, was attacked last week while picking up a passenger outside of Mount Sinai Medical Center, Local 10 News first reported.
She was left with a large purple bruise beneath her right eye, where police say the 19-year-old accused of the attack hit Valladares before pushing her out of the car and stealing the vehicle.
Edward Milo was arrested on charges of robbery and carjacking, according to a police report.
“We are appalled by this senseless act of violence,” an Uber spokesperson told Insider. “We’ve reached out to Liudmila to check on her well-being and stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation.”
Carjacking and other violent assaults on drivers have increased during the pandemic across the country, leaving rideshare drivers vulnerable to the trend.
Drivers for popular apps Lyft and Uber have been carjacked at least 124 times this year, The Markup reported, and 11 of those drivers were killed.
According to an analysis by The Markup, 75 of the carjacking attacks were perpetrated by the drivers’ passengers. This was the case when Lyft driver Cynthia Norman picked up two men late at night – she told The Markup she was trying to make extra money to pay for her husband’s hospital bill.
The man sitting behind Norman grabbed her neck while the other punched her across the face, the police report says. After refusing to exit the vehicle, they tried dragging her out. Norman was then able to grab her gun and fire at the two attackers, who quickly ran away.
The Atlanta police department recently announced they are investigating eight cases of car thefts involving Uber and Lyft drivers.
“Criminals are purchasing ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft and using it as an opportunity to victimize the drivers by stealing their vehicles,” Captain Peter Malecki said.
He added that the attackers often attempt to “lure the driver out of his or her vehicle” by asking for help opening the trunk.
Drivers told The Markup that Uber and Lyft have not been helpful in the aftermath of carjacking. 71-year-old David Morrow said Uber asked him to sign an NDA after his car was stolen at gunpoint while driving for the app.
“Safety is fundamental to Lyft and we are working closely with law enforcement to help keep drivers safe,” a Lyft spokesperson told Insider. “We continuously invest in new products and policies to help protect drivers, and are exploring ways to expand the use of our safety features to help prevent these incidents from happening and support drivers if they do.”