At the beginning of 2018, electric scooters, also known as e-scooters, began proliferating across the United States. Rental services are especially popular—in 2018 alone, about 40 million trips were taken on rented e-scooters. Regardless of the accident and injury risks that they pose, the demand for e-scooters continues to increase.
Renting an e-scooter in a city like Austin is cheap and easy. All it takes is a credit card number and a smartphone app—no special license required. Rentals cost about $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute to ride. They can be picked up and dropped off just about anywhere. This ease of use, while convenient, is becoming a problem for anyone who shares the road.
Most drivers consider e-scooters to be something of a nuisance; most pedestrians consider them a menace. The e-scooter industry is so new that accident data is difficult to come by, but when accidents do happen—especially involving a scooter rented from a third party—determining who is at fault and how to handle insurance claims can be tricky.
Our Texas personal injury Attorneys at Glen Larson Law Injury Attorneys look at what makes this trendy mode of transportation so potentially dangerous, and the types of accidents and injuries that are often involved with riding an e-scooter.
TYPES OF ELECTRIC SCOOTER ACCIDENTS
There are three basic categories of e-scooter accident victims: the riders themselves, pedestrians who are struck by moped riders, and e-scooter riders who are hit by motor vehicles or pedestrians.
RIDER INJURIES CAUSED BY THE CONDITION OF A SCOOTER
Many riders are injured by the very scooters they rent. Such accidents can be the result of malfunctioning brakes, electrical systems, stems, handlebars, or baseboards, and rapid instantaneous acceleration. Frighteningly, some people detest e-scooters and the riders who use them so much they cut scooter brake cables. In other cases, scooter rental companies don’t regularly inspect or maintain their machines—unless a defect or accident is reported by a rider. Perhaps they assume there is nothing to worry about when the user agreement holds the rental company harmless for the condition of the scooter.
Public officials and emergency room personnel have issued warnings about the dangers scooters pose to pedestrians. Pedestrians may be struck by e-scooters; others trip over them and fall. After being hit by an e-scooter or tripping and falling over one, proving liability generally isn’t a problem. It’s collecting the compensation for a victim’s injuries and damages that comes to issue. Auto insurance won’t cover a vehicle with two wheels, while motorcycle insurance only covers gas-powered vehicles with powerful engines. Homeowners’ insurance won’t cover motorized accidents either, so obtaining a settlement or collecting on a verdict becomes problematic for a pedestrian, especially when the defendant need only seek protection at the local bankruptcy court.
RIDERS HIT BY MOTOR VEHICLES AND PEDESTRIANS
Texas law allows riders of e-scooters to use roadways with speed limits up to 35 mph. Drivers simply aren’t accustomed to seeing scooters on roadways in certain areas. The profile of the scooter and rider is smaller and narrower than even the smallest of subcompact cars. When accidents occur, drivers don’t see scooters—or they don’t see them until it’s too late. Those accidents involve vehicles turning left into the path of a scooter, changing lanes into a scooter, opening a vehicle door into the path of a scooter, or backing a vehicle into one. When a motorist is at fault for a scooter crash, there’s at least a likelihood of recovering compensation. If a pedestrian is at fault for a scooter accident, homeowners’ or renter’s coverage might be available.
COMMON ELECTRIC SCOOTER ACCIDENT INJURIES
Notwithstanding the fact that e-scooters are designed to travel at no more than 15 mph, some people don’t realize that even at that speed, serious injuries or even fatalities can result from an accident.
Here are some of the injuries that are commonly associated with e-scooter accidents:
- Skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries and spinal cord damage
- Facial fractures and severe dental injuries
- Extremity fractures
- Damage to vital organs
- Lacerations and road rash with infection
In Austin, public health officials teamed up with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They tallied 192 e-scooter injuries during three months in 2018. About half of those crashes involved head injuries like traumatic brain injuries and brain bleeds. About 1% of those who suffered injuries were wearing helmets. Dr. Christopher Ziebell is an emergency medicine specialist at the University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin. He remarked that riders who travel fast on electric scooters without head protection place themselves at greater risk. He said, “If your head hits concrete at 20 mph, you’re not going to get up.” E-scooters can reach speeds greater than 20 mph when traveling downhill.
The law of personal injury allows for a wide variety of damages that an accident victim might pursue after an e-scooter accident. Damages typically sought in these types of accident cases include past and future medical bills, past and future lost earnings, any permanent disfigurement or disability, pain and suffering, and a diminished quality of life.
Obtaining compensation for injuries suffered in an electric scooter accident is a daunting task. Even at a speed of 15 mph, e-scooters have outpaced proposed ordinances that have stalled in many cities and counties. Rental companies have also protected themselves from personal injury lawsuits through their user agreements, while insurance companies mostly exclude accidents and injuries when users are injured in accidents.
Seek the advice and counsel of an experienced and effective personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after being injured in an e-scooter accident.
Our Austin personal injury attorneys have been helping accident victims across the southern United States recover from their injuries and win millions of dollars in settlements since 2006. Contact our award-winning e-scooter Accident Attorneys today at (512) 883-0277 to schedule your free consultation.