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The Legal Implications of Electric Scooter Accidents in Urban Areas

Posted in Our Blog on December 16, 2023

Whether local or visitor, renting an e-scooter to zip around New Orleans can now be done with just a few clicks. But when an accident ends the fun, who is liable for damages? 

In electric scooter accidents, determining who is at fault can be complex. Liability often hinges on several factors, including local traffic laws, the behavior of the scooter rider, and actions of others involved. If a scooter rider disobeys traffic signals or rides recklessly, they might bear responsibility for any resulting accident. Conversely, if a vehicle driver or pedestrian acts negligently, leading to a collision with a scooter, the liability could shift to them.

Urban areas with dense traffic and diverse transportation modes add layers to these scenarios. For instance, a scooter might collide with a pedestrian, or a car might swerve into a scooter’s path. In such cases, liability might be shared among multiple parties. 

Navigating Insurance Claims After an E-Scooter Mishap

Dealing with insurance claims after an e-scooter mishap involves several steps. Initially, individuals must report the accident to the relevant insurance company, whether it’s their own, the scooter company’s, or another party’s insurer. Providing a detailed account of the incident, including photos, witness statements, and a police report if available, is vital for a thorough evaluation.

Insurance companies examine these details to determine fault and coverage. For e-scooter riders, personal insurance policies might not always cover accidents, prompting a need to check the scooter company’s policy or the at-fault party’s insurance.

The process can become more complex if injuries or significant damages are involved. Insurers assess the extent of injuries and damages to decide on compensation. This stage might involve negotiations, especially if the initial offer does not fully cover the losses. 

Legal Rights of Pedestrians Involved in E-Scooter Collisions

Pedestrians involved in e-scooter collisions have specific legal rights, often centered around negligence. If a scooter rider’s negligent actions lead to an accident injuring a pedestrian, the pedestrian may have grounds for a claim. These rights include seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the accident.

In many urban areas, electric scooters are subject to the same rules as bicycles or other small vehicles. When a scooter rider violates traffic laws or rides recklessly, and a pedestrian is injured as a result, the rider can be held liable.

However, the situation can be more complex if a pedestrian’s actions contribute to the accident. For instance, if a pedestrian suddenly steps into the path of an oncoming scooter without right of way, this could impact the assessment of fault.

Pedestrians also have the right to seek assistance from law enforcement and file a police report following an accident. This report can be crucial in establishing the facts of the incident and determining liability.

Comparative Fault in Electric Scooter Accidents

Comparative fault plays a significant role in determining liability and compensation in electric scooter accidents. This legal concept involves assessing the degree of fault of each party involved in an accident. In cases where both the scooter rider and another party, such as a pedestrian or vehicle driver, share responsibility for the incident, comparative fault is applied.

For example, if a scooter rider is found to be 30% at fault for an accident due to negligent riding, and the other party is 70% at fault, the compensation the scooter rider can receive will be reduced by their percentage of fault. In a claim for damages, the amount awarded to the rider would be lessened by 30%.

This principle encourages all parties to exercise care and abide by traffic laws, as their actions directly impact the outcome of any legal claims following an accident. Comparative fault varies by state, with some following a “pure” comparative fault system, allowing recovery even if a party is up to 99% at fault, while others follow a “modified” system, limiting recovery if a party’s fault exceeds a certain percentage.

Regulatory Framework Governing Electric Scooters in Urban Areas

The regulatory framework governing electric scooters in urban areas varies widely across different regions. Generally, these regulations aim to ensure safety for both riders and pedestrians while integrating scooters into the urban transportation mix.

Key aspects of these regulations often include:

  • Riding Age and License Requirements: Many localities set a minimum age for e-scooter riders and may require a valid driver’s license.
  • Helmet Laws: Some areas mandate helmet use, especially for riders under a certain age, to reduce the risk of head injuries.
  • Speed Limits: Regulations may cap the speed of electric scooters to align with safe operating conditions in urban settings.
  • Riding Zones and Parking Restrictions: Cities often designate areas where e-scooters can be ridden and parked, to prevent sidewalk clutter and ensure pedestrian safety.
  • Equipment Standards: E-scooters must typically meet certain safety standards, including requirements for lights, brakes, and audible signals.
  • Insurance Requirements: Some jurisdictions require riders or e-scooter companies to carry insurance covering potential accidents or injuries.
  • Permitting for E-Scooter Companies: Cities may require e-scooter rental companies to obtain permits, limiting the number of scooters and companies operating within the city.
  • Data Sharing: Rental companies might be obliged to share data with local governments to monitor usage patterns and influence urban planning decisions.

These regulations are subject to change and can differ significantly, reflecting each urban area’s unique challenges and priorities. Riders need to familiarize themselves with the local laws governing e-scooter use in their specific location.

Electric Scooter Malfunctions: Product Liability Considerations

E-Scooter Personal Injury Law

Electric scooter malfunctions raise important product liability considerations. The manufacturer, distributor, or retailer might be held responsible under product liability law when a scooter defect or malfunction leads to an accident.

  • Manufacturing Defects: If a malfunction is due to a flaw in the manufacturing process, such as faulty brakes or an unstable frame, the manufacturer could be liable for any resulting accidents or injuries.
  • Design Defects: Liability may also arise if there is an inherent flaw in the scooter’s design, making it unsafe for use. This could include issues like an unsafe center of gravity predisposing the scooter to tipping over.
  • Failure to Warn: If a manufacturer or seller fails to provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding the safe use of the scooter, and this omission leads to an accident, they could be held responsible. This includes not informing users about the scooter’s proper maintenance or potential risks.
  • Breach of Warranty: If a scooter fails to meet the standard or quality as stated by the manufacturer’s warranty, and this failure causes an accident, the manufacturer or seller might be liable under breach of warranty claims.

In product liability cases involving electric scooters, it is essential to demonstrate the malfunction directly caused the accident and resulting injuries. This often involves expert testimony and detailed investigation. The outcomes of these cases significantly affect the accountability of manufacturers and sellers in ensuring the safety and reliability of their products.

If you have suffered an injury from an electric scooter accident, contact us or call (504) 500-5000 today for a free consultation.