Electric scooters are taking over downtown Milwaukee and are popular because you can get to where you are going fast and cheap. They are also convenient because you can leave them pretty much anywhere. While they are incredibly fun, handy, and user-friendly, there are certain risks that a rider takes in using them too. They can go pretty fast and can be dangerous. While riding an electric scooter you risk the chance of injuring yourself or others. If you are injured in a scooter accident you may need the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate unfamiliar legal territory. Read on for more information.
What are Electric Scooters?
Currently there are 3 different scooter companies that have dropped their products in downtown Milwaukee- Lime, Spin, and Bird Scooters. They are all electronic scooters that can be rented out via their app. They charge a fee to start up the scooter and then continue to charge a couple cents per minute they are in use. They can go up to about 15mph and all of the brands can be found in most major cities around the United States. The way they work is you download the given brand’s app and from there you can see all the scooters not in use that are available in your area. They are all equipped with GPS tracking. Once you find one, you can use the app to scan the code on that given scooter. You enter your credit card into the app and it will start charging immediately for your ride once you start it up. When you are done, you simply end the ride on the app, it will stop charging you, and you can park the scooter in a place out of the way on the sidewalk wherever your destination is. When they need to be charged, people can pick them up, charge them up at their homes. The companies compensate the people who charge them. They then have the scooters placed back out in the city ready to be used again.
Why Electric Scooters can be Dangerous
Riders are taking potentially dangerous risks when using an electric scooter. Since these devices can travel up to 15 mph, an accident while on one could result in serious injury or even death. Here are some common hazards that riders face when riding an electric scooter:
- The scooters are small. Because of their size they are less likely to be spotted by drivers on the road which poses as a danger for the riders. Also due to their size they have small wheels and a short wheelbase. This means a small bump in the road, gravel, or debris could cause the rider to lose balance and fall off or be thrown from the scooter.
- The scooters have little to no safety features. Unlike cars, these scooters do not have any airbags, seatbelts, or a surrounding body that could help to protect them upon impact if struck by another vehicle whether it be a car, motorcycle, bike, pedestrian, or other scooter on the road.
- The Panic Stop. Because these scooters can travel quite fast, if the rider breaks hard enough it can cause the wheels to lock up and throw the rider from the scooter, most likely resulting in injury.
- The questions of where to ride them. The scooters are meant to be ridden in the bike lanes of the road, or side of the road in unmarked areas, however due to the scooter’s lack of visibility most riders feel safer riding on the sidewalks. (It is prohibited to ride the scooters on the sidewalks in the city of Milwaukee.) This puts pedestrians at risk of getting hit and causing a collision.
- Anyone is qualified to ride them. As long as you meet the age and license requirements for that given scooter brand, (see rules for riding e-scooters above) you are qualified to ride the electric scooter. This results in a lot of inexperienced riders on the road. This can mean operating under the influence, not following the traffic rules, or simply being reckless due to lack of knowledge on how to use them.
- Vandalized scooters. Because the scooters are open to the public, anyone could tamper with them, causing them to be unsafe to ride. This could include impaired steering, cut break lines, or broken wheels.
Our Safety Tips
While following all the rules of the road, and the riding regulations of the scooters, we have a few other safety suggestions that you can follow to help ensure you have a fun and safe ride while on an electric scooter.
- Wear a helmet
- Avoid wearing headphones
- Use brakes when going downhill
- Use bike lanes
- Put away your cell phone
- Use hand turn signals
- Be on the watch for road obstructions
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Because these scooters are so new, taking legal action can be a difficult task. One of the biggest questions after an accident is “who is liable?” Companies like Spin, Lime, and Bird realize the potential risks a rider is taking when using their product and have prepared themselves to be protected from such situations. After a rider agrees to the user agreement there is very little that the company can be held liable for in the case of an injury. (User agreement for Lime- https://www.li.me/user-agreement Spin- https://www.spin.app/user-agreement Bird- https://www.bird.co/agreement/) However, there are still certain scenarios that may call for legal action.
For example, if an e-scooter was not properly maintained or was defective and not checked by the company, any harm caused by the defect may be considered the fault of the company.
There may also be instances in which the company is negligent in specific advertisements, provides false information to riders, or in any other way falsely portrays the scooter that causes harm to a rider.
Also, if a rider is injured in a traffic accident caused by the driver of a vehicle, the injured rider may pursue legal action against the driver.
Legal issues may also arise from the peculiar business model that allows e-scooters to be left unattended on public sidewalks, bike paths, or other places where they may cause injuries to pedestrians, bicyclists, or others. Who is at fault when it may be impossible to know who was responsible for leaving the scooter in that location?
All of these and more are reasons to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate the complexities of this type of case.
The personal injury team at Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. is here to help you with your claim and get the compensation that you deserve. To discuss the details of your particular situation involving an electric scooter, contact us at 800-2-HABUSH (800-242-2874) today.