In late 2018, the Columbia City Council voted to pass the proposed agreement between the city and two electric scooter companies, Bird and Pony. While a number of individuals came forward to voice their concerns, the e-scooters were introduced. This efficient mode of transportation helps locals get to their destinations quickly while avoiding traffic, but a number of issues have arisen as a result of accidents. If you’ve been in a crash, a Columbia electric scooter accident lawyer can help you recover your losses.
Prior to the introduction of Bird and Pony, Lime scooter operations were present in Columbia. Around the same time the two companies were introduced, Lime pulled their devices from city streets after safety concerns were expressed. A number of accidents had occurred involving the scooters, many of which resulted in injuries.
When an e-scooter accident happens, the victim can take legal action to seek compensation for their economic and noneconomic damages. Working with a lawyer is the best way to ensure full and fair compensation is received. Building a strong claim begins with having an understanding of how e-scooters work, the associated dangers, and how to determine liability.
How Do E-Scooters Work?
Electric scooters are dockless, rent-by-the-minute devices that can travel up to 15mph. They first rolled out in 2008 in San Francisco. Now, you can find e-scooters all over the country. The battery-powered scooters are outfitted with GPS trackers and wireless connectivity. Similar to how rideshare services work, users can rent a scooter through an app. The most well-known rental scooter companies are Bird, Lime, and Spin.
In Columbia, MO, an agreement was made between the e-scooter companies and the city, which includes the following parameters:
- Every Bird rider is required to wear a helmet.
- Users can call the toll-free number on the scooter with any questions.
- Bird’s initial fleet included 500 scooters.
- Pony’s initial fleet included 250 scooters.
- The scooters cannot exceed 15mph.
- The scooters cannot be used in inclement weather.
- In the event a corrective action is needed, Bird is responsible for resolving the matter within two hours or the vehicle will be impounded at the company’s expense.
- After the one year contract is up, the city can renew or terminate.
According to Bird, riders must be 18 or older to rent a scooter and measures are being taken to ensure the vehicles are used and parked properly.
The Dangers of Rental Scooters
As with any vehicle, there’s a responsible way to operate an electric scooter. The rider should always wear a helmet, operate the scooter in a bike lane (unless state law says otherwise), be aware of their surroundings, follow traffic laws, and park the e-scooter near a bike rack or somewhere out of the way once they’ve arrived at their destination.
There are some dangers that are inherent to rental scooters. It’s important for users to be aware of these issues, so they can take measures to avoid getting into an accident. The most prevalent dangers include limited visibility and protection, inadequate maintenance, and limited stability.
Scooters have limited stability because they only have two small wheels. Even the smallest amount of outside force can result in loss of balance. Protection is so limited because, like a motorcyclist, they are exposed to the elements. There are no airbags or metals cages to protect the rider in an event of a collision. Because the rental scooters are so small, they may be obscured by traffic.
In a high traffic area, a single e-scooter could be used dozens of times per day. Thousands of people ride the vehicle every day, but companies don’t always invest the time or resources into making sure the scooters are running as they should be. Worn down brakes, deflated tires, or defective motors can cause accidents.
If you’ve been in an electric scooter accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, we can evaluate your situation and determine how the crash occurred.
Electric Scooter Injuries in Columbia, Missouri
According to the Dockless Electric Scooter-Related Injuries Study by Austin Public Health (APH), nearly half of all injured scooter riders sustain a severe injury. Those injuries include bone fractures, nerve, tendon, or ligament injuries, spending more than 48 hours in the hospital, severe bleeding, and sustained organ damage.
Of the injured riders they tracked, less than one percent was wearing a helmet when they were injured. The majority were seen in emergency room departments and 14% were hospitalized. While they did not note any deaths in the span of time they studied e-scooter injuries, it’s important to recognize that accident-related deaths are a very real possibility, especially when riders aren’t wearing helmets. If a car strikes an electric scooter rider, the chances of that person sustaining a head injury are high.
According to the Missourian, dozens of people were injured after Bird rental scooters were released in Columbia. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, taking legal action may be a possibility.
Determining Liability for an Electric Scooter Accident
Determining fault for an electric scooter accident can be a challenge. In order to understand common parties that are held accountable, we’ll take a look at a few common situations:
- Auto Accidents. If you’re riding a scooter and are struck by a vehicle, the driver may be liable for your injuries. This is especially true if they were distracted or broke a traffic law.
- Scooter Malfunction. As mentioned above, e-scooters aren’t always maintained properly. In the event of an accident that’s caused by a scooter malfunction, the rental company may be liable. If there was a factory defect, your lawyer will look into the manufacturer.
- Poorly Maintained Road. If your accident was caused by a pothole or other road issue, your lawyer will need to determine if the road is publicly or privately owned. In some cases, the city could be responsible for the sustained injuries.
Recover Your Losses with an Experienced Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in an electric scooter accident, you may be eligible for compensation that can help you get your life back in order. Going up against a negligent party, whether they’re a driver or a large company, can be a challenge when you’re trying to focus on healing physically, emotionally, and financially. When you work with a Columbia electric scooter accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices, we’ll handle the complicated paperwork and phone calls for you. To learn more about your legal rights after a crash or to start filing your claim, contact our office today for a free case review.