Less than a year after issuing permits to 9 electric scooter companies, Atlanta city government issued a partial ban on usage of electric scooters within city limits earlier this year, after multiple deaths were reported. Companies like Bird, Lime, Lyft, Jump, etc. which started making appearances around May 2018, were issued licenses for up to 2000 scooters. Now, said scooters will only be available during the daytime. No scooters will be available for users between 9 pm and 4 am.
E-scooters, the new transportation trend that received a lot of mass appeal, especially from cities like Atlanta, has seen major issues with the safety and well-being of all people on the roads. As governments across many cities developed laws to encourage this environment and pocket-friendly mode of transportation, recklessness and lack of discipline has caused more trouble than value for citizens and cities.
Despite the strict enforcement of rules like a $100K fine for riding over sidewalks and many useful tips offered by the city government, this menace only seems to be growing. Grady hospital, located near the predominantly student neighborhood around Grady University, treats anywhere between 80-100 scooter-related accident cases every month.
What are the safety concerns with E-scooters?
Scooters are a big safety impediment primarily because of the lack of experience users, regulators, as well as enforcers, have with a vehicle of this nature. Here are the most common reasons for e-scooter accidents in Atlanta;
This happens mainly because automobile drivers are not used to seeing or driving around said scooters. They do not hold any experience or understanding about the speed, nimbleness or dangers of using an e-scooter and thus are unable to navigate safely around them.
Distracted or Inattentive Riding
Most scooter riders are young students, working professionals who probably have never driven cars. They value scooters as a cheap and efficient way to get to work and are probably riding for the first time on roads in their life. Unfortunately, city laws do not offer a minimum age requirement for riders. It allows companies to set their own rules. Most companies have a minimum age requirement of 16 years. To add to the inexperience, there always are distractions due to mobile phones, music that young people live with. All these distractions are bound to cause accidents and can wreak havoc on the streets.
As per city laws, e-scooters need to limit themselves to the speed of 15mph on roads and 6mph on sidewalks (while crossing). However, the failure of enforcement for the same is a major reason for accidents that occur.
Poor Quality of Scooters
Maintenance of these scooters is the responsibility of the companies that own them. The city fines companies for scooters found to be not maintained, serviced and ready for the road. However, any lapse in maintenance is bound to lead to accidents.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and/or Alcohol
DUI has been an issue with cars, bikes and thus is an obvious concern with scooters too. In the case of scooters, as the vehicle may not be owned by the rider, there are legal complications that arise from multiple party cases.
Pedestrians are also now getting slightly used to seeing or expecting scooters on the street. While they are used to navigating reckless bike riders, getting used to scooters zooming past you on the streets can take some time.
What Do I Do If I’ve Been Injured in an Electric Scooter Accident?
If you find yourself in an e-scooter accident, file a police report right away. Ask for witness testimonies and check if you can find city camera footage to help build the case. As this is a relatively new area of personal injury, very few people understand the complexity of filing a personal injury case involving scooters. If you don’t have a witness testimony in your favor, the at-fault driver’s insurer will usually deny you fair compensation by arguing that it’s a “he said/she said” situation where no one can tell which side is telling the truth.
What if I’m Partially At-Fault?
If you believe you’re even slightly at-fault in an accident, you need to get yourself well acquainted with Georgia’s modified comparative fault system. In this system, if you are at-fault in an accident, your compensation is reduced by the percentage of your fault. This is only when your fault is less than 50%. In other words, a person who is awarded $100,000 in a scooter accident and found to be 20% at fault would have their award reduced by $20,000 and ultimately receive $80,000.
Why do I need an attorney for a scooter accident?
Given the complexity and newness around e-scooter personal injury cases, it is highly recommended that you get an experienced personal injury lawyer to build and fight your case. Judges who have little experience with scooter accidents may be inclined to have perceptions about scooters that could affect your case. Witnesses may be unable to clearly point to the at-fault party, mainly due to limited understanding of the technology.
Attorney Riah Greathouse has been working through personal injury cases for over a decade. He has derived considerable success working on complicated cases involving emerging technologies like e-scooters. If you’ve been in an e-scooter accident and need counsel on the best way ahead, contact us today.