Who is Liable in a Scooter Accident?
As traffic congestion increases, many of us are looking for alternative transportation opportunities. One new option can be found in abundance around town, whether we like it or not: the electric scooters manufactured by Lime and Bird.
Some of us use these scooters to commute to and from work and school. Others just use them for the occasional joyride.
The rapid emergence of electric scooters has also worried folks. Many people feel that Lime and Bird scooters are just plain dangerous and should not be used on public roadways. The critics point out, for instance, that Lime and Bird do not even attempt to maintain the electric scooters after they release them to the public. If the scooters aren’t maintained, they will inevitably malfunction. Defective scooters are increasingly responsible for seriously injuring pedestrians and scooter riders.
Recently, a group of individuals injured by electric scooters filed a class action lawsuit against Bird and Lime in Los Angeles, California where Bird and Lime scooters first appeared on the streets. The lawsuit alleges that Lime and Bird “are acting under the guise of the commendable goals of furthering personal freedom and mobility and protecting the environment … and are endangering the health, safety and welfare of riders, pedestrians and the general public.”
Will My Insurance Pay For My Injuries?
The electric scooter company’s insurance policy may not cover a user in the event of an accident. Additionally, many of these companies require users to assume all liability when using their scooters. The medical costs that come from an injury sustained on an electric scooter would be addressed under the injured person’s health insurance. A person may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits if they were using the electric scooter for work purposes at the time of the accident.
Third-party liability would depend upon the specific terms and conditions with that person’s personal insurance policy. Here is how these different types of insurance may affect a third-party claim:
- Personal Auto Insurance: Standard auto policies exclude liability coverage for vehicles with fewer than four wheels. Motorcycle insurance would typically not cover scooters that require the rider to stand. It is unlikely that a person’s auto insurance policy would cover them, but that is dependent on the specific policy.
- Homeowners Insurance: Standard homeowners policies exclude liabilities involving the use of a motor vehicle. They also exclude liability arising out of a motor vehicle that is rented to an insured. Renters insurance also will not cover liability related to motor vehicles.
- Past, current, and future medical bills
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Disability and disfigurement
There are additional factors that may play a factor in your insurance policy covering some of the damages. Depending on the state you live in, there may be certain restrictions on where the scooter can be ridden, who can operate them, and additional rules. For example, California law permits the use of electric scooters, while New York State prohibits the registration and operation of electric scooters. If you are found to have been in violation of your state or city’s regulations governing electric scooter use, it may make an insurance claim more difficult.
This principle can be inversely applied, in that, if a third-party caused your injury while violating a law or regulation, like failing to yield to a pedestrian or running a stop sign, then you may be able to hold them partially liable for your injuries. Each situation is different, and the laws vary from state to state, so it is best to consult with an injury attorney to get some clarity on what legal remedies you may have.
Potential Scooter Accident Compensation
Scooter collisions can cause devastating financial consequences. You might be unable to work for extended periods of time. You might lose your job. You might have to file bankruptcy and go on Medicaid and food stamps if your medical bills become insurmountable.
A personal injury attorney will fight for you to obtain fair compensation for all of your losses, including:
What If I’m Partially at Fault?
In some states, even if a jury determines that you’re only 1% at fault for causing the collision, you cannot recover any money for your injuries. Fortunately, Georgia does not follow that rule. Georgia has enacted a modified comparative negligence law.
According to Georgia’s modified comparative negligence law, if you are 50 percent or more at fault for causing the collision, you cannot recover any compensation. However, if you are 49 percent or less responsible, you may receive compensation, but it will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if a jury awarded you $100,000, but determined you were 49 percent at fault, your recovery would be reduced by $49,000 to $51,000. That might not seem ideal, but it’s much better than walking away with zero compensation.
The Dangers of Electric Scooters
Even when electric scooters don’t malfunction, there are several design and use factors that increase the likelihood that scooters will injure their riders, pedestrians, and the general public. Those factors include:
Lack of Stability
Scooters cannot absorb impacts from cracks, bumps, and holes in the pavement as safely as bicycles, motorcycles, or cars. For example, the scooter’s wheels are tiny and they are only protected by a thin rubber strip. If you make contact with an uneven sidewalk or a pothole while riding an electric scooter, you could be ejected from the scooter and seriously injure yourself or a pedestrian. Electric scooter wheels also may lockup unexpectedly when you brake which can also lead to a catastrophic accident.
Lack of Visibility
Vehicle drivers are often distracted. As a result, they are frequently unable to react in time to something unexpected, such as an electric scooter entering the road from a sidewalk. Electric scooters also have features that reduce their visibility. For instance, they ride low to the ground, have a thin profile, and are not brightly painted.
Lack of Protection
Lime and Bird dumped their scooters on sidewalks with the expectation that no one would wear a helmet while riding them even though that makes the scooters exponentially more dangerous. Lime and Bird knew that if the scooters were freely available on the sidewalks, people would typically make a spur-of-the-moment decision to use them. Scooter riders only tend to carry a helmet if they plan in advance to use electric scooters. Without any helmet protection, electric scooter users are much more susceptible to suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Lack of Experience
Many electric scooter riders don’t have any experience using scooters. That might not be a problem if Lime or Bird offered training to their scooter users. However, Lime and Bird have decided not to invest in any training programs. If you were injured while riding an electric scooter for the first time, you should contact a scooter accident attorney.
Lack of Caution
Many users of Lime and Bird electric scooters are thrilled by the fact that the scooters are capable of traveling up to 15 mph. It may be thrilling to zoom around at that rate of speed, but it’s equally dangerous. When you also consider that nearly all electric scooter users don’t wear helmets, the scooter’s high-speed capability is a recipe for disaster.
To learn more your legal options after you’re injured by a Lime or Bird electric scooter, contact the scooter accident lawyers at Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC.
Scooter Accidents Lead to Head Injuries, Broken Bones and Disfigurement
Electric scooter riders are quite susceptible to injuries. For instance, Lime and Bird scooters have no seats, foot pedals or adequate safety features. Helmets are not offered for rent along with the scooters. In fact, Bird and Lime are even fighting legislation in California that would require all electric scooter riders to wear helmets.
When scooter users don’t wear helmets, there is a high likelihood that they will suffer head injuries if they are thrown to the pavement as the result of a collision. Head injuries include concussions, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Other injuries commonly caused by electric scooter accidents include broken bones, joint dislocations, soft tissue injuries, road rash, neck and back injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
Milder injuries like facial lacerations, broken noses, and chipped teeth can cause permanent disfigurement.
Our Scooter Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you were injured in a scooter accident in Georgia, do not hesitate to call Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC. We can help you recover the compensation that you deserve whether you were injured by a defective electric scooter, a careless driver, or a combination of both factors.
The electric scooter manufacturers and other vehicle drivers will usually try and lay all the blame on you. Many attorneys are afraid to litigate disputed liability cases like that. Not our firm. At Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC, our attorneys have recovered tens of millions of dollars for clients in disputed liability cases for over thirty-three years.
To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our scooter accident attorneys, call us at (404) 419-6674.