Bird, Lime and Spin are taking over Atlanta and other cities with electric scooters. Many riders see these vehicles as environmentally friendly alternatives to automobiles and traffic congestion. But others are beginning to see the safety hazards that come with dockless scooters scattered about the city.
Atlanta has taken steps to ensure better safety for users, pedestrians, and motorists. In January 2019, the city council passed new rules governing the use of e-scooters. Here we examine some of these regulations and discuss your options if you’ve been injured in a scooter accident.
E-scooters are freestanding transportation devices that can be picked up at one location, used, and left elsewhere. They are accessed by first downloading an app onto the user’s phone. The customer is charged a fee to use the e-scooter. When he or she is done with the scooter, it’s locked until the next person comes along to use it.
“Locking” the scooter does not mean attaching it to a bike rack. The vehicle can be left anywhere once the rider is done. This means e-scooters can show up on sidewalks, on curbs, or in bike paths. Prior to the Atlanta regulations, it was not uncommon for piles of scooters to be abandoned throughout the city.
Not surprisingly, this has caused problems for pedestrians and motorists. There are several types of common accidents involving scooters:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Tripping or falling over scooters left unattended in walkways
- Collisions with pedestrians
- Dangerous road conditions
- Defective scooters
Users, pedestrians, and motorists may suffer a variety of injuries due to misuse of scooters. Among these are the following:
- Broken bones
- Muscle strains
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Nerve damage
- Road rash
If a scooter operator is not careful around traffic, a scooter accident can even prove fatal. Although this is rare, it is not unheard of. In September 2018, a scooter user was struck and killed by an SUV in Washington, D.C.
So what are some of those new rules adopted by the Atlanta City Council? For starters, scooters can no longer be left lying in walkways for pedestrians to trip over them. Instead, they must be parked upright on sidewalks so as to allow five feet of space. The scooters cannot be used on sidewalks but are allowed on roads. They are also not allowed to exceed 15 miles per hour.
There are some potential weaknesses in the new rules. Some observers have noted that the regulations target the companies providing the vehicles rather than their riders. For instance, companies must educate riders about protective headgear and compliance with local helmet ordinances. But riders are not fined for failing to wear a helmet. And although individuals should be at least 18 years old to ride scooters, there is no way to enforce this.
WHY YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY AFTER A SCOOTER ACCIDENT
Although well-meaning, many riders will likely ignore the rules and continue to endanger themselves and others. Accidents will probably continue to happen. Depending on the nature of the injury, a victim may be facing lengthy hospital stays and steep medical bills. In some case, victims may miss work for weeks or months at a time. But medical bills and lost wages could be only the beginning. A victim could be unable to return to his or her job entirely. Scooter riders, motorists, and pedestrians are all at risk for these and other damages.
Regardless of whether you are a driver, pedestrian, or operator, a scooter accident can have serious consequences. You should speak with an attorney at your earliest convenience if you suffered an injury. If another party has been negligent, you may be entitled to compensation. The litigators at Schneider Hammers fight for justice. Contact one of our experienced professionals to review your claim today.