Electric scooters have become one of the most convenient means of transportation in crowded cities across California. They are easy to use, do not require any kind of permit and, thanks to a bill passed by the Governor of California in 2018, helmet use is no longer mandatory. Probably, the convenience and lax regulations are the main reason why e-scooter accidents are on the rise. When e-scooter riders suffer an accident while using this mode of transportation, they should contact a personal injury attorney at McDonald Worley Law Firm to understand their rights and file a claim for financial compensation for their medical bills and other economic losses.
Although these vehicles are considered safe and easy to operate and reaching a top speed of around 15 mph, they can cause severe injuries, either to electric scooter riders or to pedestrians hit by such a vehicle. In this article, we will offer you information supported by research and statistical data, and explain what you have to do if you were involved in an e-scooter accident.
The Risks of Electric Scooter Use
Looking at the average e-scooter, it does not appear capable of causing any serious injury. However, the data say otherwise. A table of statistical data shows that, between 2016 and 2019, 37 riders died of e-scooter injuries across the US.
A separate study published in the JAMA Network magazine gives even more detailed information, collected throughout 2019 across the state of California. Thus, according to the research:
- 249 e-scooter victims were admitted to the emergency room
- only 4.4% of them were wearing protective helmets
- 228 of the victims were injured e-scooter riders
- 21 of the victims were pedestrians hit by an electric scooter.
Also 4.8 percent of patients among e-scooter riders had a blood alcohol content exceeding 0.05%.
The main problem with e-scooter riding is the fact that there are not enough protected lanes for them. Thus, many e-scooter users ride on the sidewalk, although it is not allowed by traffic laws. Whizzing past people at 15 mph on a crowded sidewalk is certainly risky.
For this reason, e-scooter use is prohibited in Beverly Hills and it is prohibited to park one in West Hollywood. And in Santa Monica there is a clear set of rules for scooter companies and users. Thus, riders cannot use the sidewalks and the beach path, and the rule is actively enforced. Scooter drivers who break it will be ticketed, and the vehicle is impounded.
Types of Injuries Caused by E-Scooter Accidents
The lack of regulations on helmet requirement laws for riders over 18 and the fact that this form of transportation does not require a license plate and liability insurance means almost anyone, with various degrees of skills in operating them, can drive an e-scooter. They do not even have to own one, as ride sharing companies offer them for rent in all major cities across California. Using a smartphone app, the user unlocks the vehicle and is good to go.
Thus, rider inexperience and the absence of a protective helmet are dangerous combinations that lead to many accidents, sometimes involving innocent pedestrians. The most frequent injuries sustained in these accidents are, according to Statista:
- 40.2% bone fractures
- 31.7% head trauma
- 27.7% cuts, bruises, lacerations without fracture, and sprains.
These patterns of injury are observed both in e-scooter riders and in pedestrians hit by an electric scooter. Thus, looking at the characteristics of injuries and their severity, it is easy to draw the conclusion: riding an e-scooter is not a simple and risk-free activity. It is vehicle powered by an electric motor and the bare requirement for riders should be to know how to control it.
And this observation brings us to the next important section of this article.
The Causes of Motorized Scooter Accidents
What are the causes of the vast majority of e-scooter accidents in California? They are attributable both to lack of rider experience and skill and to various circumstances independent of the rider.
Most e-scooters are owned by bike share services. They should be properly maintained and in good working condition, but it does not happen all the time. An e-scooter sharing company will send someone to take a vehicle for repair only if a rider reports it as malfunctioning through the smartphone app.
In many cases, the rider finds out that the electric scooter is not working properly only after they have an accident and require emergency care.
Poor Sidewalk Conditions
At 15 mph (the maximum speed of an e-scooter) even a small pebble or pothole in the sidewalk can cause a rider to lose control of the vehicle. If the accident takes place at public intersections or street corners, where there are a lot of pedestrians waiting to cross the street, several people may be injured by the oncoming e-scooter.
E-scooter riders can cause an accident by swerving to avoid road hazards or other road vehicles. If they lack experience and ride at top speed, electric scooter drivers can lose control of their vehicle and crash it into a stationary object or hit another person.
Unfortunately, even at low speed, such an impact can lead at least to minor head injury according to trauma specialists. This is why, while there is no helmet law in California, all riders should consider using it.
Dooring accidents are caused by car drivers or passengers who open a car door before looking to see whether there is an oncoming byciclist, motorcyclist or e-scooter rider. The impact with a car door can be quite severe, leading to injuries that require medical care.
Who Is Responsible for E-Scooter Accidents in California?
A person who suffered bodily injury and property damage due to anoter person’s negligence or recklessness has the right to recover their financial losses from the responsible party. This is the essence of personal injury law in all states across the US, including California.
The key elements of establishing negligence are:
- the existence of a duty of care towards the victim
- the breach of the duty of care is the cause of the accident
- the accident caused the other person’s injuries
- the victim suffered damages.
Once negligence was proven, there is another issue to determine: who was more at fault for the accident? In California, this is not a difficult issue, because the state follows a pure comparative fault rule. This means that a person can file a personal injury claim or a personal injury lawsuit even if they are 99% at fault for the incident.
Once an award is granted, its amount will be reduced by the person’s percentage of fault. Thus, in the case presented above a person 99% at fault for their accident who receives a $100,000 award, will actually collect only $1,000.
What to Do After an E-scooter Accident
At the beginning, you may not believe that you suffered serious injuries after being hit by these forms of transportation or crashing it into an obstacle. However, there is always a risk of head injury, even if you are wearing a helmet.
In all cases, you should see an emergency physician as soon as possible – at least duringthe first 24 hours after the accident. If the physician recommends hospital admission for further test, do not refuse it. You will ultimately recover your money, either from the electric scooter company or from the responsible rider. You cannot leave a severe injury to the head, neck or legs untreated, as it may escalate and become more difficult (and expensive) to treat.
At the same time, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. There are different rules for e-scooter accidents, as the riders are not obliged to carry insurance. In various circumstances, the company offering the vehicles for rent or the public authorities responsible for the maintenance of the roads and sidewalks may be liable for your e-scooter accident injuries.
Also, remember that the statute of limitations for personal injury civil actions is 2 (two years) in California. This is the period of time you have available to decide on the legal recourse, starting from the date when you suffered the injuries.
Hire a Dedicated Personal Injury Law Firm to Fight for Your Rights!
At McDonald Worley Personal Injury Law Firm, we use our knowledge of the law and the latest methods and technologies to fight for our client’s rights. We are an award-winning law firm and we strive to live up to all the accolades we received by putting our clients’ interests first.
No case is too complex or too simple for us. Each person deserves fair compensation for their economic losses and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, loss of companionship and loss of quality of life if they were caused by someone else’s negligent behavior.
We never charge advance fees – we only get paid if we win your case, out of the settlement amount we negotiate for you. Thus, you afford an experienced personal injury attorney in California and you should remember that time is running out, so call us now for a free case review: 877-721-3423!