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You may or may not be familiar with dockless (electric) scooters – also referred to as electric rental scooters, rideshare scooters, and motorized scooters – but if you aren’t, you very likely soon will be. As their popularity continues to skyrocket, dockless scooters may flood the streets of your community, just as they have with many other communities. And these scooters are no longer just a headache for major cities; many college communities and smaller towns are now being overrun with electric scooters as well.
Electric scooters are a new form of rideshare transportation. Users access the scooters through an app on their phone, which is connected to the user’s banking information. The user can use the app to “unlock” or activate the scooter. Once the scooter is unlocked, the user has full operational access to the scooter and is able to drive it wherever they want and for as long as they would like. Once the user is done with the scooter, they can simply abandon it at any location (hence the name dockless scooter). The app on the user’s phone uses GPS tracking to track the user’s ride and charge the user accordingly. The app then alerts other users of the scooter’s location, making it available for other users to activate.
There are some operational rules that a user must agree to on the app before they are allowed to begin using the scooters. The user must scan his/her valid driver’s license and agree to the scooter guidelines, which range from rules to suggestions about how to operate the scooters. Most electric scooter apps state that a helmet should be worn by the user at all times during operation. But the scooter companies do not provide a helmet with the scooter nor do they offer any oversite to enforce such rules. These apps preface riders with rules about obeying roadway laws, avoiding pedestrians, and operating in a safe manner. But, besides local law enforcement, there is no oversite provided by these companies to ensure these rules are being followed either.
The scooters range in ability based on the type of scooter, but most reach a maximum speed of around 15 mph and are suited for sidewalks and roadways, although they can be driven on some off-road conditions.
The most common electric scooter companies operating in the U.S. are Bird, Lime, and Lyft. These companies manage the scooters in the communities and provide the apps for users to access the scooters.
Because electric scooters and electric scooter rental services only began appearing in the past few years, there are very few laws and regulations surrounding how these scooter companies should operate and what road rules users must follow.
Some communities have taken permissive steps to regulate the scooters after scooter companies began to offer the service in the community. Others have taken pre-emptive measures to try and disallow the scooters all together. The scooter companies seem to be apathetic towards many of these efforts, often times dumping their scooters into cities even when that city has made it apparent that they do not want the scooter service offered. Cities are being forced to take legal action to ban these scooter services in order to legally remove the scooters out of their communities. If a city has a ban on electric scooters, it may be difficult for users to hold the city liable for any incidents involving the scooters.
For cities that do allow the scooter services to operate within their city limits, the operational rules for users vary – while there are some basic guidelines provided by the scooter companies, there are no regulatory “rules of the road” dictating how users should operate the scooters. The scooter companies do offer rules and suggestions on how to operate the scooters for users through an informational walkthrough when users download the app – rules about following roadway laws, avoiding pedestrians, maintaining a respectable speed, etc. – but there are no (or very few) standard laws specifically enforced on electric scooters.
Because of this, some users feel that it is okay to operate the scooters with little or no concern for safety.
While electric scooters do offer a number of benefits – faster transportation, environmentally friendly, reduced road traffic – there are also a number of dangers posed to both users and pedestrians.
The 4 general concerns are:
In some states and cities, riding electric scooters on the sidewalk is banned. However, in other locations, riding on the sidewalk is not specifically disallowed.
Riding on the sidewalk poses a number of threats to users and pedestrians. The likelihood of a user/pedestrian collision is much higher when the user is operating the scooter on a sidewalk, especially in high congestion areas. At the high rate of speed that these scooters are able to travel, a collision can cause major injury, especially to a pedestrian.
Objects on the sidewalk – poles, trash cans, trash, benches, etc. – also pose a risk to users, especially if they are not experienced in operating the machines. User’s don’t go through a driver’s education program before they are allowed to operate the scooters, so they must learn how to operate the scooters in a learn-as-you-go fashion. It may take some time to adjust to the scooter’s mobility and speed, and avoiding pedestrians and objects on the sidewalks can be very challenging to new users.
These electric scooters travel at up to 15mph, which is comparable to the average speed of a common cyclist in the city. In an accident, this high rate of speed can cause major injury. This is especially true if the user is not wearing proper safety gear.
In some states and cities, users are encouraged to stay off of the sidewalk and use the roadway when traveling on an electric scooter. In an effort to reduce the risk of user/pedestrian collisions, the user faces an even more dangerous threat – cars. While the damage inflicted on a car from an electric scooter collision is likely minimal, the threat to the user can be severe and even deadly. Because the scooters are much lighter than cars and offer very little protection to users, an accident involving a car would inflict about the same damage as an accident with a car and a walking pedestrian. Because of the higher rate of speed that electric scooters can travel at, head on collisions would be much more dangerous for scooter users as compared to pedestrians.
Although scooter users are required to follow the rules of the road while operating a scooter, both lack of experience and lack of punitive response to improper use leads some users to break these rules. Because there are few safety standards for these scooters, car accidents can have fatal consequences.
Electric scooters offer the unique ability for users to leave a scooter in any location after they are done using it. This means that, often times, scooters are left in walkways and on roadways. While the electric. scooters do have kickstands to keep them upright while they are not in use, not all users choose to use the kickstand. Scooters can be found lying flat on the ground on sidewalks, crossing areas, roadways etc.
Abandoned scooters (especially lying flat) pose a risk to pedestrians, who can easily trip over them. It also poses a risk to cars and other scooter users, who can easily run into them.
It may be surprising to learn that a large portion of Bird Scooter accident lawsuits, Lime Scooter accident lawsuits, Lyft Scooter accident lawsuits, and other rental scooter accident lawsuits have been filed on behalf of pedestrians that have suffered an injury due to tripping over a scooter that wasn’t even in operation.
If you are involved in an electric scooter incident, you should contact a Bird Scooter accident lawyer, Lime Scooter accident lawyer or Lyft Scooter accident lawyer right away. You may be eligible to participate in a Bird Scooter accident lawsuit, Lime Scooter accident lawsuit, Lyft Scooter accident lawsuit, and other rental scooter accident lawsuit.
TorHoerman Law offers free no-obligation case consultations for any potential Bird Scooter accident lawsuit, Lime Scooter accident lawsuit, Lyft Scooter accident lawsuit, and other rental scooter accident lawsuit.
One of our experienced personal injury attorneys would be happy to review and discuss your case, free of charge.
If you are involved in an accident, follow our helpful guide for collecting evidence – this can greatly improve your chances in the event of a Bird Scooter accident lawsuit, Lime Scooter accident lawsuit, Lyft Scooter accident lawsuit, and other rental scooter accident lawsuit.
Review our guide to assessing damages for a better understanding of what damages you may be able to seek.
For a better understanding of liability, see our general liability guide.
If you do decide to use an electric scooter, here are some safety measures that you can take in order to avoid an accident.
Last Modified: March 19th, 2019 @ 11:16 am
Dockless (electric) scooters, while immensely popular, have become a controversial issue in cities nationwide. There is currently a bit of a legal grey-area surrounding electric scooters. Electric scooter accident lawsuits are now being filed on behalf of riders and pedestrians who were injured as a result of these scooters. If you suffered an injury as a result of an electric scooter, you may be eligible to participate in a Bird Scooter accident lawsuit, Lime Scooter accident lawsuit, Lyft Scooter accident lawsuit, or another form of electric scooter accident lawsuit. Contact a scooter accident lawyer at TorHoerman Law to find out whether you qualify to participate in a scooter accident lawsuit.
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