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Bird Scooter in San Francisco, California.

Electric Scooters are Taking Over Southern California Cities

  • Jul 2 2018

Southern California —

In recent months, the residents of Southern California cities have found a new way to travel, the motorized scooter. Companies like Bird Rides Inc. and Lime Bike are being dubber “scooter startups” and they have taken over the streets (or sidewalks) of Los Angeles and San Francisco. The electric scooters’ have a rage of over 20 miles and top out around 15 miles per hour. In order to ride the scooters, you must download the corresponding app. After you download the app, you will be able to pay to unlock and the scooter. The app also tracks the battery life of your particular scooter, this way you don’t run out of power while you are on the go.

With new technology, comes new problems. Southern California personal injury lawyers are trying to figure out who is liable if someone is injured while they are riding a scooter. According to Bloomberg News, there have already been a number of instances where an individual was injured while riding the scooter. A large number of the issues have been the result of brake malfunctions.

A few examples of incidents that happened earlier this year are:

  • A 16-year old boy was riding the scooter and fell off. His family contacted a local personal injury lawyer attempting to file a claim.   
  • Another incident involved a woman who collided with a motor vehicle. After the collision, the woman was hospitalized due to injuries.

In response to the pending safety complaints, Bird Rides and Lime Bikes have taken strides to stress rider safety and limit their liability. Both companies stress that riders wear a helmet and provide proof that they are over the age of 18.

While both companies have similar ground rules to limit liabilities, they have gone about it in different ways. Lime offers riders the incentive of a free helmet if they have an in app balance of $10 or more. While Bird Rides requires that that riders agree to take almost full responsibility, limiting their own liability to $100.

What’s Yosi’s Take?

The Bird/Lime scooter phenomenon is well on its way. We are seeing these scooters everywhere and it seems like more and more are popping up as the weeks go by. Naturally, with the influx of these new motorized scooters flooding the streets and sidewalks, we think, what liability this might bring for both Bird and Lime? This brings up many interesting questions and issues.

If a rider becomes injured while riding the scooter due to a scooter malfunction, then Bird/Lime would be legally responsible for the rider’s injuries. The problem is, how does one prove that the scooter accident was a result of a malfunction or because the rider was negligent? I believe this is where many potential clients will encounter issues in proving liability. Without any video of the incidents and probably no witnesses, this could easily be a case of one word against another, making it almost impossible to prove liability on either side. These would be very tough cases to win and I would probably advise against potential clients going after Bird/Lime for such cases.

Another scenario is a scooter rider being injured by a moving vehicle. As long as the driver of the vehicle stops and provides their insurance information, these are potentially strong cases for the rider. This is, of course, assuming the driver of the vehicle was at fault. This situation is no different than a vehicle vs. bicycle accident.

A third situation involves a pedestrian being injured by a scooter rider running into him or her. These are likely cases where no recovery could be had since the scooter riders are not insured. Additionally, even if the scooter riders owned their own home and had a homeowner’s insurance policy on their home, it is very unlikely that the homeowner’s insurance policy would cover the scooter rider for such a loss. Without any insurance to go after, these would be cases with no potential recovery and I would advise victims of such accidents not to pursue the scooter riders for any type of recovery.

Posted in: The Expert's Opinion