Electric scooters have become a common sight on city streets, especially with so many people getting outside to enjoy the good weather while it lasts. Scooters are available for rent in many cities across Florida and the rest of the United States, but there are some important points to be aware of before you use one.
Riding a scooter may look like harmless fun, but that doesn’t mean they’re always safe. Accidents can and do happen to scooter users – and some of them are serious. According to a June 2019 article in Consumer Reports, eight people in the United States have died while using rental scooters since Fall 2017. For example, one case involved a 53-year-old man who crashed a scooter into a tree and died, while another involved a 26-year-old man who was killed in a collision with an SUV. The same report found evidence of at least 1500 scooter-related injuries in 47 different cities.
Scooter accidents can result in bruises, broken bones, and head injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, rental scooters have an injury rate of 14.3 for every 100,000 rides, and almost half of those accidents involve head injuries.
If you are involved in an accident while riding an e-scooter, your health insurance may cover your own medical expenses. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be covered for damage to property or to any other people involved in the accident. The two primary scooter companies in the United States require users to accept liability for any accidents, and you would most likely have accepted these terms and conditions when you first used the scooter rental app. Car insurance policies do not generally cover two-wheeled vehicles such as scooters, and your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy is unlikely to cover a scooter accident unless you add an umbrella policy.
Safety Tips for Scooter Users
Always follow these tips to stay safe and reduce the risk of an accident:
- Always Wear Your Helmet: Under Florida law, you are not legally required to wear a helmet when riding a scooter as long as you are over 16 and the scooter cannot go faster than 30 mph. Regardless, wearing a helmet will help keep you safe. Passengers should always wear helmets too, and are legally required to do so if under 16.
- Perform a Safety Check: Make sure the scooter works properly before you start using it – especially the brakes.
- Know Where You Can Ride: Although scooter riders are often seen on sidewalks, it is illegal to ride a scooter on the sidewalk anywhere in Florida. Stay on the road, and as far as to the right as you can manage. Follow all traffic laws as if you were driving a car, and signal before you turn, using either lights or arm motions.
- Stay Focused: Don’t let yourself be distracted by conversation or anything else, but especially not by the desire to take a picture or video to share on social media.
Falls and collisions with vehicles are the most common reasons for scooter accidents, but there are a number of other hazards scooter riders can run into. For example, the scooter rider can strike an object in the road such as a fallen branch or something that might have fallen out of someone else’s vehicle. Potholes are another common hazard, and it is easy to see how a scooter traveling between 15 and 30 mph could lose control when hitting a bad pothole.
Riders have been injured by running into an open car door, or when swerving to attempt to avoid an accident. Brake malfunctions also have the obvious potential to cause a scooter accident, although malfunctions of any kind can potentially be dangerous.
One of the most common reasons for scooter accidents is simple ignorance about the laws and rules that apply to e-scooters. For instance, many scooter riders seem to be unaware that they are not allowed to operate on sidewalks, increasing the risk of running into a pedestrian or causing property damage. To reduce your own risk of being involved in an accident, the first step you should take is to familiarize yourself with the state and local laws that apply to e-scooters.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been in a Scooter Accident?
If you are injured in any scooter accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer at Fenstersheib Law Group for a free consultation. This is true whether you were injured while driving the scooter, riding as a passenger, or if you were injured by a scooter driver. Anyone of these situations could form the basis for a personal injury case depending on the circumstances. For example, if you are struck by a vehicle while following the rules of the road on your rental scooter, you may have a personal injury case against the driver of the vehicle. If you were hurt as a passenger because the scooter driver was being reckless, you may have a case against the scooter driver.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you have a personal injury case as a result of a scooter malfunction, the negligence of a city government in failing to fill a pothole or remove a hazard, or the recklessness of a scooter driver who may have injured you. Whatever the circumstances of your scooter-related injury, your best choice is always to seek professional legal advice from an attorney experienced in personal injury law. Although the insurance company may try to convince you that you should settle your claim immediately, you should always remember that their goal is not to get you the help you need but to reduce their own costs. An experienced personal injury lawyer can review the circumstances of your accident and get you the best outcome possible.
Fenstersheib Law Group, P.A., has been helping injured people since 1980, serving communities all over Florida from our offices in Hallandale Beach. If you’ve been inured as a result of a scooter accident, contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-TellRobert for a free consultation.