Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have been some of the most successful business ventures within the last few years that have ultimately changed our culture dramatically, and these companies show no signs of slowing down.
The most recent ride-sharing advancement from these companies includes electric scooters, which have become wildly popular in helping people of all ages get around their cities and towns while having fun. It seems as though just a couple years ago these scooters started popping up in cities all across the country, and then before anyone knew it, they oversaturated every market to the point that you could find electric scooters everywhere, no matter where you live!
As more electric scooters permeate throughout our local communities, we’ll undoubtedly see increased risks of accidents between scooters, vehicles, and other pedestrians. In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide that explains how these scooters function, the established laws and inherent risks associated with them, and what occurs when you’re involved in an accident while riding an electric scooter.
Electric scooters like those from Uber, Lyft, Lime and Bird are very similar to non-motorized kick scooters, except they are motorized and powered through a rechargeable battery pack. These scooters are allowed to be left just about anywhere throughout a city, just as long as they aren’t in any designated no-parking zones or aren’t blocking any walkways.
Usually, you’ll have to download an electric scooter company’s app, which will then provide you with a map of where all the nearby scooters are in your local area. Then you’ll be able to utilize your credit card information to validate your rental and unlocking of your desired scooter.
You’ll then end your ride through your app once you’re at your destination. Your credit card will be charged per mile and per minute, but how you’re charged will slightly vary between the different company policies.
There aren’t any official reports on the general increase of injuries caused by electric scooters on a grand scale, but doctors and emergency room employees everywhere have reported a dramatic increase in scooter-related injuries. Most electric scooters are capable of traveling up to around 20 mph, which is by far enough speed to cause serious injuries when an accident occurs.
Similar to motorcycle accidents, there are a lot of inherent risks involved with electric scooters for riders, other pedestrians and drivers out on the road. The most noticeable risk involved with electric scooters is the fact that they are small and relatively quiet, which makes it more difficult for other car drivers to see and hear nearby riders.
The scooters also have very small wheels, which makes them much less stable than a bicycle. Any type of small bump in the road can cause a scooter to be thrown off its course and make the rider lose their balance and fall.
There isn’t any kind of required training or specialized license to rent and operate these scooters, so there is a whole array of injuries that can result simply from lack of experience and improper use.
Also, the general concept behind these scooter companies is to provide increased mobility for pedestrians on a whim, so that means most people who ride these scooters aren’t wearing any kind of safety equipment.
There are no overarching federal laws associated with electric scooters, but cities throughout the country have created their own laws to help with scooter safety. California has a statewide law dictating that anyone under 18 must wear a helmet while on an electric scooter, and many scooter companies simply don’t allow anyone under 18 to ride their scooters.
California also only allows roadway travel for scooters where there is a 35 mph speed limit and below, but they are allowed on high-speed roads if there is a bike lane. Scooters are not supposed to be ridden on sidewalks like bikes, and scooter riders should always follow normal traffic rules at all times.
No matter how careful you are while riding a scooter it’s inevitable that accidents are going to happen, and much like accidents between two cars the liability for damages will vary based on the situation.
The following are a quick list of scenarios to consider:
When a car driver collides with a scooter rider because of their own negligence then the driver is going to be found at fault. This will mean that the driver will have to cover any damages done to the scooter and the rider injuries that were sustained. Car insurance will more than likely cover these types of costs through liability coverage.
In the situation in which a scooter rider merges into a road without any kind of warning and forces a car driver to swerve, it’s the negligent scooter rider’s fault for any accident that occurs due to that specific kind of merging. In this situation, the scooter rider will be held liable for the damages caused to the vehicles, and more importantly the injuries, disability or even death that was essentially caused by their negligence.
It’s likely a scooter rider’s responsibility if they lose control of their scooter or simply aren’t paying attention before running into a vehicle. They’ll then be required to pay damages and medical bills for any injured vehicle passengers.
Some cities are beginning to mandate that scooter companies carry some kind of liability coverage for renters, but as of now, there isn’t any law requiring them to do so. Most scooter companies will not offer insurance when you’re riding one of their products, and most user agreements even require users to waive any liability against the company.
Most car insurance policies also do not provide coverage for vehicles with less than four wheels, and because the scooters are considered motorized they aren’t covered by your homeowner or renters insurance policies either. So if you’re riding a scooter around your city you should know that your car insurance will more than likely not cover you if you’re involved in an accident.
But, if you are driving a car and involved in an electric scooter accident then you’ll be likely covered for any liability you may incur.
You should always wear a helmet while riding an electric scooter and try to stay in bike lanes as much as possible while you’re out enjoying your city. Driving defensively and being cautious at all times is very necessary while out on an electric scooter, and this is simply because the consequences of an accident can be dire.
You should also take your scooter company’s User Agreement seriously, and by actually looking through these digital documents you’ll be more cognizant of utilizing scooters from companies that actually do provide liability coverage.
When it comes to avoiding scooter accidents while driving a vehicle, you’ll have to protect you and your family through focused driving. This means always being aware of your surroundings when you’re in a city or a popular scooter area.
We’ll always have your best interests at heart, unlike insurance companies, so always call us for a free consultation before settling anything with your insurance company and other involved parties at 866-640-6665.Filed Under: