Electric scooters or e-scooters are ubiquitous all around the world. Here in the United States, they have gained significant popularity over the last two years. Startups such as Bird, Lime, Skip and Spin allow riders to locate and unlock the scooters with a smartphone app. But lawmakers and the public alike are concerned after a growing number of injuries and fatalities involving these e-scooters.
Here are four things to know about e-scooter accidents and injuries, and how you can protect your rights.
Why are these scooters suddenly so popular?
E-scooters are a cheap and convenient way to get around especially in dense, urban areas. They cost as little as $2 per ride. Investors are pouring money into startups that provide these services. Even rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are getting in the game. E-scooters are dockless scooters that can be left on any public sidewalk after their ride is done. They are then picked up at night by freelance contractors and returned to designated pickup areas.
What are some of the problems?
Since electric scooters began soaring in popularity in some of the country’s biggest cities, there has also been a surge in emergency room visits for injuries such as fractures, dislocations and head trauma from scooter-related accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency has found that head injuries tipped the list of accident-related incidents involving e-scooters at 45 percent.
According to medical records from two UCLA hospitals in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, electric scooters have been associated with 249 emergency room visits between Sept. 1, 2017 and the end of the August 2018. The list of reported injuries includes dislocations, fractures, lung contusions, soft tissue injuries and a splenic laceration. Most victims were riders who had fallen, collided with an object or were struck by a vehicle. Several fatalities involving e-scooters have been reported around the country.
Have any countries banned e-scooters?
The United Kingdom has banned these vehicles. The law in that country classifies the scooters as motor vehicles requiring drivers’ licenses that are subject to tax and insurance. But privately-owned electric scooters are still widely used in cities such as London with riders risking fines and penalty points on their driver’s licenses if caught. E-scooters have also been banned in Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing since 2016. But, an interesting fact is that most of the e-scooters that are operating in the United States and other countries are manufactured in China.
Who can be held liable for e-scooter injuries?
There are a number of potential liable parties when it comes to e-scooter accident cases. You may be able to file a lawsuit, for example, against the e-scooter company. You may also be able to sue the manufacturer if a scooter defect caused your injuries. If you are a pedestrian who has been injured by a scooter rider, you may be able to seek compensation from the rider. If you tripped and fell on scooters left carelessly on the sidewalk, the scooter company and other contractors responsible for clearing them out could be held liable.
You may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced California personal injury lawyer who handles e-scooter injury cases will be able to help you understand your legal rights and options.