These personal mobility devices are quick and convenient but they can also be a nuisance and even a threat to public and personal safety when operators are not using them in the prescribed manner. Many scooter riders do adhere to the rules, but those who do not are putting themselves and others at risk.
These actions may have serious legal consequences for the party operating the scooter, any parties who may become injured in the operation of the scooter, and it’s important to know who is liable if and when an accident does take place.
When someone downloads and uses the app of an electric scooter company, he or she is accepting some level of inherent risk with the operation of that scooter. This is commonly a two-wheeled vehicle that you step onto and stand upon as you travel from one location to another. They can travel up to speeds of 19mph, so they are not permitted for use on sidewalks. Riders must use them on roads only, which poses considerable risk as a scooter operator is expected to share the road with automobiles and bicyclists.
As a result of the minimal level of protection afforded to a scooter rider on what is basically an open-air vehicle, many cities have laws on the books that mandate the wearing of a helmet during operation. There are other laws in place that vary from one city to the next, but the basic regulations are in place throughout.
The risks that come with riding one of these vehicles pose significant threat to riders and pedestrians. One of the biggest concerns is being thrown from or falling off of the scooter in a street with busy motor vehicle traffic. There is the potential of a rider colliding with a pedestrian, potentially injuring both parties. The speed of an electric scooter has enough velocity to seriously injure anyone who is hit by one at top speeds.
According to a recent estimate, there were around 1500 electric scooter accidents in the United States last year. Some of these involved just one party, the rider, while others involved multiple parties. The laws governing these vehicles vary, which can pose some questions over liability.
Along with the mandates of wearing a helmet and refraining from riding on sidewalks, other rules restrict the use of one scooter by two passengers, and all operators must hold a valid driver’s license. Anyone operating an electric scooter must also obey the rules of the road. That means stopping at stop signs, moving with the flow of traffic, obeying all posted signs and traffic lights, and giving pedestrians the right of way. Scooters should also be equipped with reflectors and at least one headlight for riding at night.
When these rules and regulations are ignored or not complied with, accidents can happen and they can be costly mistakes for negligent parties and victims of such actions. An injury can be extremely costly for either party in terms of medical bills, lost wages, and physical and/or emotional trauma.
Some of the most common accidents that can and do occur from the use of an electric scooter include a collision with an automobile, inanimate object, or a pedestrian or a fall from a moving or stationary scooter.
These can occur for any number of reasons including excessive speed, reckless driving, distracted driving, failing to obey the rules of the road, driving on sidewalks and other restricted use areas, and failing to wear a helmet.
A range of injuries are possible from an electric scooter accident. Some of the most common are cuts and scrapes, broken or fractured bones, contusions, face injuries, sprains, and head trauma.
So who is the responsible party in a scooter accident? That all depends on the nature of the accident. In most cases, the liability lies with the rider operating the scooter. They may not be obeying the rules of the road or driving while distracted or even intoxicated.
But other parties might have some liability. If a scooter rider is hit by an automobile, the motor vehicle operator could be held liable for damages. An accident could also be the fault of the city. Poor maintenance of the roads can lead to a rider falling from a scooter and becoming injured.
The scooter companies themselves could also be held liable for any malfunctions with the scooters. Multiple users per day who don’t always take the best care of these vehicles can lead to higher than usual levels of wear and tear. Brakes and accelerators may not be operating as intended or damaged, this could lead to an accident on a poorly maintained vehicle.
It can be tough to determine liability in an electric scooter incident. That can make it very difficult to file a claim and receive any compensation that you could be entitled to receive as a result of your injuries. Don’t try to navigate this nebulous process alone, hiring the right legal team to represent you and protect your interests. Going forward without an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can make all the difference between receiving the maximum compensation and getting far less than you might deserve.