Scooter Injuries Are Real – and They’re Becoming Quite Common
October 9th, 2018 by Attorney John Colvin
Have you noticed the growing number of electric scooters zipping around Tennessee in urban centers?
These types of motorized devices are giving countless kids, teens, and adults a faster way to move around cities. However, they aren’t as risk-free as some might expect. In fact, scooter injuries are becoming common across the country. Simultaneously, the laws surrounding their inherent problems are lagging behind.
As a September 2018 article featured in the Washington Post discussed, medical centers are reporting increasing numbers of scooter-related emergencies. And many of those emergencies can have lasting effects on victims since the scooters can top out around a very fast 15 miles per hour. Yet everyone seems to be treading lightly on what to do as the scooter craze builds in the United States.
Getting hurt on a scooter
Certainly, scooters look innocuous. They’re hardly toys, though they are sometimes sold as them to families, young children, commuters, and city dwellers.
What makes them so hazardous? Consider the possibility of hitting a bump while operating a motorized scooter, or riding off a curb. Anyone who has fallen over the handlebars of a bicycle while just going a few miles an hour knows the potential outcomes, such as broken bones, contusions, and serious lacerations. Actually, those problems are relatively minor injuries compared to more long-term ones like concussions or even brain damage.
Just how much of a problem is the world of scooter injuries? The Washington Post piece noted that 34 accidents were reported this summer in Santa Monica, CA, a city that’s known for having a high number of electric scooters available to residents and visitors. Another anecdote mentioned that ERs in San Francisco, CA, filled up regularly with people suffering from scooter injuries.
Of course, the west coast isn’t the only place that’s experiencing a spike in scooter-related personal injury situations. Nashville, TN, is on the list of cities where scooters are sending individuals to hospitals. The same holds true for other metropolitan areas like Atlanta and NYC.
To be sure, digging up numbers on scooter injury statistics is tough. The New York Times reported in August 2018 that tracking for electric scooter injuries is beginning, but it remains in its infancy at this point. ABC News suggests that only 3,300 injuries from electric scooters were reported in 2017, but that figure may represent only a small percentage of actual injuries, particularly if some were not seen by medical professionals.
Becoming a scooter-appreciation nation
At the same time that scooters are creating heightened personal injury risk, they’re rising in popularity as an alternative to cars or public transit. Yet far too many riders forget that any moving object should be carefully monitored and operated.
Although scooters may appear to be easy-to-run devices, they do require skill. Consequently, some manufacturers of publicly available scooters require that first-time drivers pass a tutorial on helmets before being able to use the equipment. Currently, helmets aren’t mandated for scooter riders, but they could potentially save lives and hardship.
Of course, helmets aren’t the only way to protect riders. Another is through systematic preventive maintenance and rapid repair when things go awry. Unfortunately, investigative journalists have discovered this may or may not be going on behind the scenes at the companies that lead the scooter movement.
Scooting and U.S. law
Scooter-related injuries are new territory for legal professionals; many questions remain.
How binding is the contractual agreement between the user and the scooter manufacturer or service provider? Should riders even agree to certain arbitration clauses before jumping into the scooter-riding world? Or would they be better off waiting until they are on stronger legal ground before getting into the fray?
Thus far, Santa Monica has already won a legal battle against Bird, an electric scooter maker headquartered in southern California. Bird paid the city $300,000 after being saddled with fines and says it’s taking its position as a manufacturer of this new type of transport seriously. However, we can’t expect corporations to make their own legal rules; that’s why the law has to play a fast game of catch-up before the first scooter death occurs.
In time, we’ll no doubt see tightening laws surrounding scooters. Until then, people who experience scooter injuries of any magnitude should contact a lawyer well-versed on the subject to see if they may be entitled to receive compensation to help pay for at least their medical bills, if not pain and suffering. Scooting isn’t a danger-free choice; like any other means of getting from point A to B, it comes with its own precautions and concerns.
Sustained a scooter or other type of vehicle-related injury in Tennessee? Contact John R. Colvin for a free initial consultation to discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.