The Dangers of Electric Scooters
E-scooters are an emerging form of transportation that is becoming increasingly popular. E-scooters are most widely used in warmer climates like here in Southern California, and they are becoming a preferred means of travel for both residents and visitors.
Renting an e-scooter works like using a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft. In fact, Lyft is one of the companies that rents electronic scooters. Other major players in this space include Bird, Lime, and Jump. These companies tout e-scooters as an innovative and environmentally friendly way to get around a city, and they are now available for rental in dozens of cities and university campuses throughout North America.
To rent an e-scooter, a customer downloads the scooter rental company’s app and pays electronically (through the app) to unlock the scooter they want to rent. These scooters can reach speeds of up to 15 mph, and they compete for limited space with bicyclists and pedestrians in areas that are typically highly congested.
Why Electronic Scooters are So Hazardous
Riding e-scooters may be fun, and they may be a “green” transportation solution, but they also have potential hazards. Like bicyclists and motorcyclists, scooter riders have very little protection on the streets, and when they bump into a vehicle, bike, pedestrian, or object at 15 mph, there is not much that separates their body from hitting the pavement. When this happens, serious and catastrophic injuries can occur. And that is exactly what we have seen as the use of electronic scooters has continued to grow.
A comprehensive analysis that was conducted by UCLA and published in the Journal of American Medicine found that the most common electronic scooter accidents were falls, collisions with objects, and riders getting struck by moving vehicles or objects. 40% of the injuries were to the head, 32% were bone fractures, and 28% were soft tissue injuries.
There are several reasons e-scooters are so dangerous:
- Low Profile: Scooters are smaller than vehicles and other moving objects, and they are more difficult for motorists to see. It is also easy for someone on a scooter to be hidden from view by larger vehicles, such as a bus that drives by.
- Scooters are more Susceptible to Road Hazards: Because they are smaller than even bicycles, it is easier for scooters to be thrown off balance by potholes, gravel, uneven surfaces, debris, and other road hazards.
- Scooters are Less Stable than Alternatives: Electronic scooters have many design flaws that make them more dangerous; such as smaller wheels, a short wheelbase, and a higher center of gravity. This is another reason why it is easy for scooters to lose their balance and crash when they encounter even a small bump in the road.
- High Rate of Malfunction: One of the most common causes of e-scooter accidents is product malfunction. Brake failures happen frequently on these machines, and there are numerous other common problems; such as the throttle sticking in the depressed position, handlebar stem collapsing, and the electrical power dying. And all too often, the e-scooter rental companies do not properly inspect the devices between rides.
- High Risk Behaviors: People who ride scooters often fail to take them as seriously as they should. Even though California requires all riders to wear helmets, a very small percentage do. Other risky behaviors that are common with e-scooters include riding in areas that are illegal, riding while intoxicated, and two or more individuals riding on the scooter at the same time.
Who is At Fault for an E-Scooter Accident?
Electronic scooter accidents can be caused by a number of different factors. Here are some potential scenarios and who may be at fault with each:
Scooter Malfunctions: When the brakes fail or something else goes wrong with the scooter and it causes an accident with injuries, the scooter rental company should be liable for the damages. Claims against these companies can be challenging, however, because those who rent the scooter have to e-sign the company’s user agreement, which is dozens of electronic pages that essentially release them from all liability. In such cases, you will need to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer to have any chance of recovering damages.
Scooter Rider Injures Pedestrian/Bicyclist or Vice Versa: There are many situations in which an e-scooter collides with a pedestrian or bicyclist. Because this could be either party’s fault. A thorough investigation will be needed to determine whose fault it was. California is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that if the parties share fault, the damage award (for any injured parties) is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share.
Another potential issue with these types of cases is whether or not the responsible party has insurance that will cover the claim. This type of claim may be covered under a homeowner’s, renter’s, or umbrella insurance policy, but if they don’t have any of these policies, it will be very difficult for the injured party to recover damages.
Car Hits Scooter and Injures Rider: This scenario is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward. If a motor vehicle collides with a scooter and injury to the scooter rider is caused by the driver’s negligence, then the injured rider can file a claim for damages through the driver’s auto insurance policy.
There are several other parties that may be on the hook for electric scooter injuries, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident. These may include the scooter designer or manufacturer, a business that is responsible for keeping the exterior of their building maintained and free of hazards, the city that is responsible for maintaining safe streets and sidewalks, and a dog owner if their dog attacks the scooter rider.
Injured in an E-Scooter Accident in Southern California? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Attorney
As you can see, E-scooter injury cases are very complicated, and this is an emerging area of law. If you or someone close to you has been injured in an electronic scooter accident, you will need a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer to navigate the complexities of the case and successfully pursue full and fair compensation.
If your accident happened in San Diego, El Cajon, or anywhere in Southern California, call Garmo and Garmo, LLP today at 619-441-2500 or message us online for a free consultation. We will meet with you thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.