In July 2020, Emily Wu, 23, from Brooklyn, was seriously injured when she was hit by a car when her Uber driver failed to let her out at a sidewalk or safe location. Now, because of the company’s new terms of service, the company is attempting to block Wu’s lawsuit from going to court.
Months after her accident, in November, Wu, a college student, file a lawsuit against Uber, arguing that she was hit and injured by another car because her drivers did not let her out at the proper, safe location. At the time of the accident, the driver of the SUV that hit her stayed on the scene. The next thing Wu remembers is waking up on the street, surrounded by people and an ambulance on West 6th Avenue, near Avenue O.
Wu lost most of her front teeth and had road rash over a large portion of her body. She has since undergone surgery to repair a torn meniscus in her right knee, as well as two operations to reconstruct her gums to install dental implants.
While Wu avoided using rideshare services for months after her accident, she eventually logged back into Uber in January 2021. At that time, just two months after her lawsuit was filed, Uber updated its terms and conditions. Among the new terms, a new rule asserted that users retroactively waive their rights to a trial and instead have to bring all disputes before an arbitrator.
Wu did not read the agreement before accepting, so Uber is now trying to block her case from going in front of a jury. According to Wu’s lawyer, Josh Kelner, however, it would be unfair to have the case downshifted from Bronx court to arbitration: “Uber should be sanctioned for attempting this remarkable end run around a represented party’s attorneys in pending action. Arbitrators, on the whole, award less money and are seen as more favorable to serve the corporate interests that are their repeat customers. And it’s not true of every single arbitrator, obviously, but on the whole. The reason they want to be in arbitration is because juries are fairer to individuals than arbitrators are.”
While it is not clear yet what will happen with Wu’s suit, she is hoping it will help other riders: “Drivers should always drop you off at a safe location, and nowhere you could get hurt. And they should be liable if something happens.”