When you need to make a quick trip somewhere, rentable e-scooters from companies like Bird and Lime can seem like a convenient and affordable way to help you get around without driving a car. Being able to get around without a car is definitely a plus in a city like Los Angeles, where parking can be difficult.
Unfortunately, even though these scooters have grown in popularity, it’s very easy for scooter riders to get seriously hurt. Every year, hundreds of people end up in emergency rooms in the Los Angeles area because of injuries caused by scooter accidents.
If you’ve been hurt in a scooter accident, you might be wondering about how legal liability works in your situation. Scooter accidents can occur in many different ways and liability largely depends on what exactly caused your accident. Here are a few of the most common parties who could be liable for a scooter accident:
Under California law, scooters are required to be ridden in streets, not on the sidewalks. But since electric scooters are very small, unenclosed vehicles, scooter riders can be in a very vulnerable position since drivers in cars and other types of vehicles on the road might not see a scooter rider or might not even think to look out for scooter riders. Since scooter riders don’t have the advantage of being protected by things like airbags or seat belts, it’s very easy for a driver’s negligence to seriously injure or kill scooter riders.
In some situations, a driver or passenger could be at fault for a scooter accident even if the car isn’t in motion at the time of the accident. For example, a scooter rider could get hurt if a driver or passenger in a car parked on a street opens their door without checking first and causes a scooter rider to crash into the door. Dooring accidents are a common type of bicycle accident and unfortunately, they’re also a way scooter riders can end up being injured.
Two key reasons why rentable e-scooters have become so popular is because they’re readily available and easy for almost anyone to use when they want to. However, when scooters are left out in the elements all day and can be used by many different people on any given day, it’s extremely important for scooter companies to make sure the scooters they own are being well maintained.
Each of the big scooter rental companies has their own process for handling scooter repairs. But regardless of how scooters get repaired, scooter rental companies have a responsibility to make sure the products reaching consumers are reasonably safe to use.
Defective scooters can potentially be very dangerous for riders. For example, if something goes wrong and a scooter suddenly stops while a person is using it, the rider might end up falling down because of that sudden stop. Problems with brakes or acceleration can also very easily put riders in jeopardy. In a 2019 survey by Consumer Reports, 8% of respondents said they had ridden an e-scooter that malfunctioned or didn’t work correctly.
Just as scooter rental companies have a responsibility to make sure their scooters are safe for people to use, cities have a responsibility to maintain their roads so that they’re safe for the public to use. If drivers, cyclists, and scooter riders need to swerve to avoid hazards in the road, such as potholes, there’s a chance it could end up causing a serious accident. Scooter riders in particular are vulnerable to dangerous road conditions since they are less stable than many other types of vehicles on the road. For example, smaller bumps in the road might not affect someone driving a car, but they could cause someone on a scooter to fall.
Even though California law requires electric scooters to be ridden in the street, that doesn’t mean they always are. Not only are locals often unclear about what the law is, there’s also the fact that rentable e-scooters tend to be most commonly seen in areas that are popular with tourists, who might be used to following a different city’s or state’s rules for using scooters.
When scooter users are ridden on the sidewalk, it puts pedestrians at risk of being hit. Even though most electric scooters are not high speed vehicles, typically topping out at about 15-20 MPH, that level of speed could seriously hurt a pedestrian walking along a sidewalk. If riders aren’t careful, scooter accidents could also occur between two riders.
Contact a California Scooter Accident Lawyer
Dealing with accidents of any kind can be extremely overwhelming and it’s only natural to have questions about what you should do next. One of the best things you can do is get some help from a scooter accident lawyer. When you work with The Wallace Firm, you’ll have an experienced lawyer on your side to help you through the process and fight for you to hold the responsible party accountable. Contact us today to get started.