America’s transportation service industry has changed drastically in recent years. Aside from the immense popularity of ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, people in cities and states throughout the country now have a number of options when it comes to immediate-use, rental transportation. This includes electric scooters, including those from Bird Rides Inc. and other scooter startups, which have gained popularity and a fair bit of criticism.
Similar to Uber and Lyft, these electric scooter rental services work by connect smart-phone app users to an available motorized scooter nearby. By paying through the app, these scooters can be started and ridden to wherever riders need to go, at which point they can be “returned” by terminating the ride through the app.
While the concept is a unique one that has been hailed for its eco-friendliness, cost-effectiveness, and pure fun, electric rental scooters have been drawing ample criticism from business owners, local communities, and safety advocates. In fact, several major U.S. cities have already banned their use, and many more are considering similar bans.
Below, our Houston personal injury lawyers at The Daspit Law Firm discuss a few concerns and safety issues involving electric scooters.
- Scooter Accidents – The most pressing concern for local governments and safety advocates is that electric scooters pose substantial risks of accidents. These scooters require no special licensing, can be driven on sidewalks, and can reach speed of around or over 15 mph. The problems they create stem largely from negligent scooter riders who may cause pedestrian accidents when they fail to exercise due caution, or even when scooter riders operate under the influence. However, there are also risks to pedestrians in the form of trip and fall accidents, as communities are finding that because these scooters can be simply left anywhere when a rider is done, they’re typically strewn about and abandoned in places that would make them hazards.
- Car Accidents – In addition to scooter riders being involved in accidents with pedestrians or bicyclists, there have also been increases in scooter-involved car accidents. While some may be caused by the negligence of riders themselves, many are caused by motorists who are negligent in surveying their surroundings and yielding to riders, especially in intersections, parking lots, and when making turns.
- Insurance Coverage & Liability – When it comes to auto accidents and personal injury lawsuits, victims injured by the negligence of another have the right to hold the at-fault driver liable for their damages; damages which are typically paid out by the driver’s auto insurance company. However, scooter riders do not need to carry insurance to operate scooters like they do when driving an automobile, an issue that is raising many new questions when it comes to liability, who should be responsible for accidents, and how injured victims can recover the compensation they need. This question may be straightforward in some cases, such as those in which scooter riders are injured by a negligent motorist with auto insurance. Others, such as accidents and injuries caused by negligent scooter riders themselves or by scooters that caused trip and fall accidents, are not so clear.
- Defective and damaged scooters – Because these electric scooter rental companies allow nearly anyone to access scooters and use them however they please, safety advocates are concerned over whether they may suffer damage that could make them dangerous to new and unsuspecting riders. These cases will likely focus on applying product liability laws in order to illustrate that scooter companies should be held accountable for any accidents and injuries that result from defective or damaged scooters, as it is their responsibility to ensure the safety of their products.
Electric scooters may be garnering a lot of criticism, but the fact remains that they are being introduced to many cities across Texas and the country, and being used by riders on a frequent basis. As such, our legal team at The Daspit Law Firm is doing our part to help local victims in need by staying up to date with the latest case law involving electric rental scooter accidents.