Across the United States, people are embracing the latest trend in personal transportation: electric scooters. While riding these scooters can offer a lot of fun as well as an eco-friendly alternative to motor vehicles and public transit, e-scooters can also be extremely dangerous, and the accidents and injuries are already beginning to pile up.
Every day, more people are filing lawsuits as a result of injuries sustained from e-scooter accidents. However, since these devices are still new to the market, there’s a lot of confusion about who is liable when injuries occur.
Keep reading to learn more about these e-scooters, discover who pays when injuries occur, and find out how to file a claim with Atkins & Markoff if you or a loved one has been injured by one of these devices.
What Are E-Scooters and How Do They Work?
Companies market electric scooters — often called e-scooters for short — as a quick, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to commute to and from work. The devices run on rechargeable lead or lithium-ion batteries, and they allow users to travel between 10 and 40 miles at an average top speed of about 15 mph, depending on the brand.
Most e-scooter companies rent their vehicles rather than sell them. To ride a typical e-scooter, you must first download the device’s app and create a login. Through the app, you can view a map that will show you the closest scooter as well as each scooter’s battery charge.
Once you reach your scooter, you usually tap a button to unlock the device, snap a photo of the scooter’s QR code, and then scan your driver’s license and a credit card to get started. The company will typically charge an initial fee for the rental, and afterward you’ll pay according to usage intervals — much like a traditional taxi cab. For example, it might cost $2 to unlock the scooter and then 10 cents for each minute of use.
Drivers use a set of handlebars to operate their e-scooters. A typical scooter will have a throttle on the right handlebar and a brake on the left. Once in motion, you can also gently shift your weight right and left to maneuver the device. All this may sound simple enough, but you’d be surprised how challenging e-scooters can be to maneuver, especially on roads with narrow lanes or in high-traffic areas.
Why Are So Many People Getting Hurt on E-Scooters?
While e-scooters are fun and convenient, most of us haven’t been on anything like one of these devices since we were children, so they can be hard to get the hang of. Getting used to maneuvering these devices with body weight can take time, and many injuries occur before the rider has the chance to familiarize themselves with the scooter. Also, different e-scooters have different throttle and braking mechanisms, which means the learning curve resets each time you try a new brand of scooter.
Not only are e-scooters tricky for some people to handle, but many companies allow users to park them at random locations throughout the community rather than in designated racks. This can lead to trip-and-fall accidents, especially when e-scooters get discarded without the use of a kickstand in poorly lit areas or on crowded sidewalks outside of local businesses.
Since most of these e-scooter companies have appeared seemingly overnight, drivers and communities haven’t had time to prepare and learn how to share the road with these new two-wheeled hazards. For ordinary drivers in their cars and trucks, e-scooter riders can be even harder to see than bicycles and often seem to come out of nowhere. And while the law requires scooter drivers to follow local road ordinances, many scooter operators frequently switch between the sidewalk and the road, drive in the middle of two lanes of traffic, and engage in other behaviors that casually flout traffic laws.
To make matters worse, many people decide to take a spin on an e-scooter on a whim, which means they rarely bring proper protective gear, especially a helmet. When crashes occur, scooter riders have nothing to protect their most critical and vulnerable body parts from impacts, and serious injuries often result.
What to Do if You’ve Been Injured on an E-Scooter
E-scooter companies have anticipated the possibility of lawsuits, and they’ve taken steps to protect themselves against liability. Whenever you unlock an e-scooter through its app, the fine print absolves the parent company of all liability for any injuries that occur during the ride. This has already resulted in plenty of confusion about who is liable for an e-scooter injury. Many riders believe they have no legal options in the event of an injury, which isn’t true.
In most cases, much like a traditional auto accident, the details of the incident will determine liability. The strongest claims tend to involve e-scooter riders who follow the rules of the road but still suffer injuries because of other drivers’ negligence. A negligent driver causing injury to other drivers or any pedestrian can be held liable for those injuries and their related costs. E-scooter drivers themselves can also be held liable if they injure a pedestrian while acting recklessly.
Traffic collisions aren’t the only source of e-scooter injuries. Scooters have been known to malfunction and cause harm to riders, pedestrians, and motor vehicle drivers alike. However, because of the disclaimers that scooter companies have placed in user agreements, it’s so far proven difficult to hold the parent companies liable for any injuries that result from scooter usage. We believe the regulations that govern e-scooters will receive an update soon, and e-scooter companies will eventually be held liable whenever an inherent defect in their product causes injury.
For now, if you’ve suffered injuries in an accident involving an e-scooter, you should contact a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney who has experience handling product liability claims. Each e-scooter injury case is unique, and only an experienced attorney can evaluate your claim and advise you about your legal rights and options.
Injured by an E-Scooter in Oklahoma? Contact Atkins & Markoff Today for Help
If you’ve been injured by an e-scooter in Oklahoma, please schedule your free, no-risk consultation with an attorney from the Atkins & Markoff team by completing our brief online contact form or calling (405) 607-8757. Our attorneys and support staff have decades of experience litigating personal injury claims and negotiating favorable settlements, and we offer free consultations where we can discuss the facts of your case and begin developing an effective legal strategy on your behalf.
Personal injury law can be extremely complicated (especially those involving e-scooters), and the statute of limitations for these claims is only two years from the date of the incident, so please reach out today to begin the legal process and take the first steps toward holding those who injured you accountable.
Collins, S. (2018, September 25). ‘E-scooters’: Zooming can end in scrapes, breaks. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/news/20180830/e-scooters-zooming-can-end-in-scrapes-breaks
Robinson, M. (2018, May 30). A startup in the West Coast scooter sharing craze is already worth $1 billion — here’s what it’s like to ride a Bird scooter. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/bird-electric-scooter-review-2018-4/#the-bird-has-landed-in-san-francisco-and-people-have-very-mixed-feelings-about-it-1
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.