Weekend nights in Florida are typically pleasant, with warm temperatures and sometimes an ocean view, but as e-scooter riding has dramatically increased, many people are finding themselves in a not so pleasant environment—a hospital. Emergency rooms are seeing an increased number of patients who, as a result of an e-scooter accident, are being admitted with fractured skulls and more. In fact, the numbers have risen substantially due to e-scooter accidents and the lack of helmet use. Brain hemorrhages and head wounds are all too common and the general public seems to have no clear understanding of just how dangerous e-scooter riding can be.
Across the nation, studies have shown that e-scooter injuries more than double bicycle injuries. And more than one-third of e-scooter accidents resulted in a head injury in 2018, according to data compiled by University of California researchers. And in South Florida, where e-scooter ridership is growing, the numbers are nearly the same—head injuries are common.
As it stands in Florida, e-scooter drivers are required to be, at minimum, 16 years of age and must hold a valid driver’s license. Riders are not currently required to wear a helmet at speeds under 30 miles per hour. Where they can ride? Surprisingly, current law allows riders to operate e-scooters on sidewalks and bike paths, in addition to roadways. Also e-scooter riders must adhere to all traffic laws in the same manner as bicyclists.
E-scooter riding is popular on across Florida, and cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Key Biscayne, Coral Gables, Miami Lakes, and West Palm Beach are on board. Eager riders can pick up an e-scooter, unlock it with an app, and take off, paying a base fare and per-minute charge for their ride to wherever they choose to go. E-scooters are a spontaneous activity, so most riders may not plan ahead to bring a bicycle helmet from home, though that would certainly be a smart idea.
Looking at what’s happening in Fort Lauderdale, currently Fort Lauderdale Fire & Rescue is not keeping track of how many injured e-scooter riders were actually wearing helmets. The fact remains however that responders are definitely seeing injuries of helmetless riders who decide to hop on a scooter after drinking. Drinking and driving, no matter what the vehicle, is always a bad idea.
Studying statistics from East Las Olas Boulevard, where streets are bustling with traffic and sidewalks are packed with pedestrians, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue responded to over 25 serious e-scooter accidents in 2019 that required the injured individual to be taken to Broward Health Medical Center for care.
These developments are all relatively new, as dockless e-scooters have only been in South Florida since early 2018. Taking their position in the market, scooter companies are now flourishing in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, as well as in popular suburban. Lime e-scooters reported to the Sun Sentinel that demand is high in Florida and that they have logged 900,000 trips on their scooters. It’s big business and it’s growing.
Weighing The Positives Versus The Negatives
It’s an alternative method of transportation, and many cities are finding it to be a solution. But public safety concerns are at the forefront of the dialogue as accidents continue to happen and are perhaps even increasing. In total, Miami experienced 87 accidents from April 2019 to mid-January of 2020, and Fort Lauderdale saw its citizens suffer through 146 accidents in the last year.
Unfortunately, people may not be getting the message that e-scooter riding is dangerous for those who are inexperienced. Riders are suffering injuries in all places in which they travel, including sidewalks and roads. There are many reasons why injuries happen, and while street traffic is one, there are certainly many others. As e-scooter companies expand, there are maintenance issues and parts shortages that may also be attributing to bleeding injuries, broken bones, and potentially worse. Additionally, lawsuits are increasing as well. Currently, scooter companies do not provide helmets for their riders.
Accidents: Issues To Consider
Many experts agree that sidewalks, roads, and pathways are simply not designed for e-scooters. Sidewalk riding can be dangerous for the rider, and for pedestrians, and using e-scooters in the busy South Florida streets can increase the chances of collisions with cars, and the risk of serious head trauma injuries. To that point, Consumer Reports has stated that 75% of known fatalities with shared e-scooters were because of collisions with cars. Going beyond the primary concern—public health—there is the issue of litigation as well, and as such, lawsuits in Broward County have increased, including some cases that allege scooter malfunction caused accidents and injuries. Clearly, the issue is evolving and expanding as more e-scooters hit the streets across South Florida, and America at large.
If you have been injured on an e-scooter, call Fenstersheib Law Group at 1-800-Tell-Robert. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Let our e-scooter attorneys help get you the compensation you deserve.