While riding in an Uber through Center City, Philadelphia in March 2018, Jillian Kemenosh’s driver ran a red light that caused a car accident so bad that she ended up fracturing her spine as well as sustaining a concussion and traumatic brain injury. After the accident, Kemenosh tried to file a claim against Uber, its local subsidiaries, and the driver for her injuries because they were directly caused by her driver’s reckless actions.
In court, Uber said she didn’t have the right to a public trial, saying that she had agreed to binding arbitration back in 2013 when she joined the app and agreed to their terms of service. When riders sign up for the Uber app, they must agree to the terms of service, which includes that they are 18 years or older, are using a valid credit card, and won’t sue the company in a trial by jury. Instead, they agree to settle by arbitration agreement.
Binding arbitration, or a forced arbitration agreement, means that app users are unable to take Uber to public trial and must settle any disputes privately through a third-party court arbitrator. This might sound bipartisan, but usually arbitrators rule in favor of the company.
Thankfully, the Philadelphia court saw Uber’s argument as unjust. When Uber users are prompted to agree to the terms of service, they are not given a hyperlink to the page where all of the terms are listed. According to Pennsylvania law, the user registration must be transparent about offering an arbitration agreement in order for it to be carried out.
Uber users upon registering are just asked to agree to the terms of service. Since Kemenosh was not given access to the full terms to review before agreeing, the judge ruled that she had a right to proceed with a trial by jury.
Companies will try to waive your rights to a public trial, but they don’t always do so legally. If you’ve been in a rideshare accident or sustained an injury at the hand of a company and want to file a claim to hold them responsible for their actions, a personal injury lawyer from Thomas Law Offices may be able to help you. Reach out today so that we can discuss your legal options and get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.