The E-Scooter Craze
Despite evidence to the contrary, “e-scooters” didn’t magically materialize on Atlanta’s busiest street corners overnight. The current popularity of electric scooters has sparked a micro-transportation revolution that is slowly spreading across the country, starting with America’s most populated and traffic-congested cities. San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. – Atlanta is just the latest city to be inundated with competing scooter devices. As of last December, there are five companies competing to be Georgia’s favorite ride-hailing service: Bird, Lime Uber, Lyft, and Spin.
But how safe are these electric vehicles?
Why Are E-Scooters Dangerous?
The process is simple: a customer downloads a company’s app, inputs their credit card information, scans their driver’s license, and then unlocks a nearby scooter of choice. However, most scooter companies don’t regulate a rider’s speed or provide them with helmets; in fact, scooter companies Bird and Lime have prioritized their profit margins by sponsoring bills that allow customers to ride without life-saving helmets.
All existing and potential customers need to be aware of the various safety concerns associated with e-scooters:
- They are unstable by design and can be easily overturned by road hazards.
- A rider can be ejected from the vehicle by roadside clutter and uneven pavement.
- Like a bicycle, they lack external or built-in safety features.
- They are popular with young and inexperienced riders who participate in reckless behaviors.
- Most customers don’t know the state laws and regulations associated with electric scooters.
- To use a product, customers need to read a lengthy (in other words, skimmable) statement that absolves the company of any liability should there be an accident.
- Drivers aren’t used to watching for scooter riders, so there have been many reported collisions that result in catastrophic or fatal injuries.
- There have been many incidents where scooter riders have been hit by distracted, intoxicated, and speeding motorists.
- Distracted and negligent scooter riders have been known to hit pedestrians, severely injuring them in the process.
There is also another issue that needs to be addressed: these devices require driver’s licenses, but many youths are stealing licenses or using fake IDs to have reckless scooter escapades. The Verge was prompted to post an article about these “teen scooter outlaws” because this has been a problem in many scooter-infested cities. The article’s author, Will Kubzanski, issued a warning after interviewing anonymous children who have successfully tricked the system, “Underage scooting isn’t just an LA thing. Teens from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. have ridden illegally.”
Common Electric Scooter Injuries
On January 25, 2019, specialists at the University of California, Los Angeles completed a study about the most common e-scooter injuries. According to their findings, injured scooter riders are frequently admitted into hospital emergency rooms for “fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and soft-tissue injuries (27.7%).” Because there have been a large number of accidents reported in Austin, Texas, the CDC and the Austin Public Health and Transportation departments completed a separate study in April that revealed 15% of all scooter victims sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI). It should be no surprise that each and every e-scooter company is currently facing class action lawsuits for issues relating to product liability, gross negligence, and even aiding and abetting assault.
An e-scooter rider can sustain the following catastrophic injuries during an accident:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Penetration injuries
- Concussions and contusions
- Spinal cord injuries
- Multiple bone fractures
- Neck injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
Safety Regulations Lose Out to Corporate Interests
Unfortunately, State Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, recently announced that he’s putting a hold on proposing any statewide safety regulations for electric scooters until he’s able to complete negotiations with the electric scooter companies. Many critics, including his fellow lawmakers, are raising heated brows because the Senate Public Safety Committee recently passed electric bike regulations with a unanimous vote.
House Bill 454 would have prohibited people from parking scooters in places that could hinder vehicles and pedestrians, and even limit where and how customers could ride electric scooters. For example, had the law passed, it would only allow people to ride scooters on bike paths, bike lanes, and roads (if the previous two options aren’t available) at a speed of 35 mph or less.
But Tanner stalled this bill to accommodate electric scooter companies, who are notorious for prioritizing profits over the safety of their customers. Eventually, the committee approved a modified version of House Bill 454 that removed scooter regulations so that it only regulates electric bicycles.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident Involving an E-Scooter? Call Today
Cases involving micro-transportation companies and their products represent an untested legal frontier with a small body of precedent. To secure a positive case result, you’re going to need the trial-tested services of an innovative and experienced legal representative.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Pratt Clay if you or a loved one has been injured in an e-scooter accident. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your injuries, you may have grounds to file a claim against a motorist, an e-scooter rider, the electric scooter company, the e-scooter manufacturer, a business owner (premises liability), or even the city. Our legal team can investigate your case, identify the negligent party, and litigate on your behalf in court to secure a beneficial settlement or verdict.