It seems like you can’t go anywhere around Austin or any big city anymore without encountering something dangerous involving an electric scooter. And if you read a paper or other publication, then you probably see articles about scooters as well.
This weekend, my family went out to Los Angeles to see my daughter, and I saw an article in the Los Angeles Loyolan, her college newspaper, reporting about the number of people who reported scootering under the influence. In the paper’s non-scientific study, sixteen percent of the students surveyed said that they had scootered while intoxicated. That’s a shockingly high number given that the scooters are banned on the actual Loyola Marymount University campus. The article did emphasize the dangers of improperly using the scooters, including the dangers of scootering while intoxicated.
As I was writing this article, I was sent another article about electric scooters, this one from the Insurance Journal. The article notes that as deaths and injuries from scooters pile up (their pun, not mine), so do claims against the electric scooter firms. The story notes a number of the different types of injuries that are being caused in scooter injuries. There have been several reports of deaths, brain injuries, broken bones, and more, to both riders and members of the public. Dr. Wally Ghurabi, the medical director of an emergency department at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica said that his plastic surgeons have spent hours cleaning asphalt out of various facial wounds to prevent “gravel-rash tattoos”.
The potential lawsuits that will start showing up will have some novel legal issues that will need to be sorted out. For example, I’ve heard of many accidents happening because the scooter malfunctions. Those rides will have potential claims against the rental companies (in Austin, the two biggest are Lime and Bird), and they will have potential claims against the actual manufacturers of the scooters. I also understand that Lime and/or Bird may have liability waivers in their terms of service. If that’s the case, the validity of those waivers will also have to be litigated.
If a pedestrian is hit by someone on a scooter, the pedestrain also faces an up-hill battle. First, I can imagine that many riders who run into someone just take off, before the victim can get the rider’s name and contact information. If the victim is able to get the rider’s information, then there will likely be fights over whether insurance covers any of the claims.
Regardless of the fact patter, these are a rising problem, and it will be important for victims to have good legal representation to jump through the hoops of these new claims.
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