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Accidents involving electric scooters can be deadly if the rider falls off or if the scooter malfunctions.
SACRAMENTO, CA, May 07, 2019 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Electric scooters (e-scooters) are gaining popularity in almost every major city in the United States and around the world. Many people are using e-scooters to take short trips in urban areas as an alternative to bikes, cars, and buses. They are popular among the younger crowd because of their affordability and convenience.
What are Electric Scooters?
E-scooters look like a larger standup scooter except they have an electric motor and hand brakes. These battery-operated vehicles weigh about 40 pounds and can reach speeds of 15 miles per hour.
"Similar to bike sharing, scooter sharing is mainly for commuting," said Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. "It's designed to travel short distances such as riding from the bus station to the office or to a location that's about 10 to 15 minutes away."
The Start of Rentable Electric Scooters
Inspired by Uber and Lyft, scooter companies, Bird, Lime, Scoot, Skip, and Spin started populating city's sidewalks across the country in 2017 with rentable electric scooters as the next step to the transportation revolution.
Santa Monica, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland were some of the first cities in California to embrace the e-scooter phenomenon. However, ridesharing electric scooters didn't hit the Sacramento market until February 2019, when Jump, the same company that introduced electric bikes to Sacramento the year before, rolled out its first 100 fleets of electric scooters.
Renting Electric Scooters
Riders can easily access any scooter using the company app on their smartphone. Through the app, riders can locate the nearest scooter and reserve it. Riders will use the app to digitally unlock the scooter and ride to their destination. When they are done with the scooter, they park it at a designated scooter or bike rack and digitally lock it. For cities that don't have designated racks, riders can just drop them off at any location where they won't create a risk for pedestrians or vehicles. The scooter companies keep track of the e-scooters through GPS.
Compared to other ridesharing services, e-scooters are cheap to rent. It's free to unlock through Jump then it costs 15 cents a minute after that. Other scooter companies charge $1 to unlock and 15 cents a minute. For instance, a two-mile ride that takes about 10 minutes will cost $2.50.
Benefits of Riding Electric Scooters
E-scooters are a great sustainable way to get around the city. Not only are they fun, affordable and convenient, they also promote a healthy and active lifestyle. They can also help reduce traffic congestion, emissions, and parking issues.
The Dangers of Electric Scooters
"On the flip side, e-scooters also pose a risk when being ridden carelessly," said Smith. "Accidents involving e-scooters can be deadly if the rider falls off or if the scooter malfunctions."
California Electric Scooter Laws
Like all other personal transportation, e-scooter operators must obey traffic laws and general rules of the road. The e-scooter laws in California state that riders:
• Must have a valid driver's license or permit.
• Are not allowed in the street with a speed limit above 25 unless they are riding in a bike lane.
• Must be on the right side of the street next to the curb and ride in a designated bike lane if one is available.
• Must walk their scooter in a crosswalk when crossing the road.
• Must not ride on the sidewalk.
• Can't have passengers.
• Can't hitch scooters onto a vehicle in motion.
• Must have one hand on the handlebar.
• Must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
California could cap the number of scooters being rented in the cities and apply harsher penalties for anyone breaking the law.
"Although California requires riders to be at least 16 years old, some cities like Sacramento and Los Angeles require that drivers be 18 years or older to operate the e-scooters," said Smith. "Also, California recently passed a law that allows adults to ride without a helmet."
Electric Scooter Injuries
People have sustained severe injuries or even deaths in accidents involving e-scooters. Emergency rooms across the country are seeing people with injuries generally associated with car accidents such as traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and lacerations.
"While most of the injuries were caused to the riders, pedestrians were also injured when they trip over scooters that were left on sidewalks or when the riders crash into them," Smith said.
An Uptick of Electric Scooter Injuries and Deaths
Researchers believe there are two main reasons why these injuries or deaths are happening:
The riders are inexperienced - Electric scooter riding is new to many people, and casual riders don't usually understand how to operate them safely. The scooters can go as fast as 15 miles per hour, which is a level of speed that most riders may not be able to handle.
The riders are intoxicated or impaired – Many riders are operating the e-scooters while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even though impaired riders can cause more danger to themselves, they can also pose a risk to pedestrians.
"When some of these accidents occur, the fault isn't always on the rider," said Smith. "Some accidents are due to scooter malfunction such as the brakes not working or the throttles sticking."
What Do I Do If I Have Been Injured on an Electric Scooter?
Smith recommended that if you've sustained severe injuries in an accident involving a motorized scooter, there are a few steps you need to take immediately.
"Seek medical care as soon as possible," said Smith. "The sooner you get treatment for your injuries, the more likely you will make a full recovery."
Smith also suggest taking photos of the injuries and accident site, reporting the accident to the scooter company, getting any witnesses contact information and reaching out to a personal injury lawyer to find out about your legal rights.
Who Is Responsible in an Electric Scooter Accident?
The scooter companies may be held liable if they fail to comply with city laws, such as not providing designated parking racks. However, the scooter rider will likely be held responsible for failing to park or operate the scooter properly.
"If the rider sustained injuries in an accident that was due to a scooter malfunction, the rider could hold the scooter company responsible for any resulting damages," said Smith. "If it was due to a traffic accident, the rider would likely hold the driver liable."
E-Scooter vs. Car Accidents
Just like in any other traffic accident cases, the legal concept of negligence usually applies when building a case to hold another driver liable for the accident. The injured party must establish these four components:
• Duty – the injured person must determine that the other party has a responsibility to drive his or her car safely.
• Breach – the injured person must prove that the other party breached this duty.
• Causation – the injured person must show that the breach caused the accident.
• Damage – the injured person must confirm that the accident resulted in injury.
If successfully proven that the scooter accident led to injuries which required medical treatment, the injured party could receive financial compensation to help pay for any costs that result from the accident. This may include past and future medical bills, and past and future loss of income. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento for more information.
Edward A. Smith, the founder of AutoAccident.com, has been awarded a 'superb' or 'perfect' rating of 10.0 by Avvo. This largely peer-reviewed rating reflects his unrelenting commitment and personal dedication to his clients since 1982. Mr. Smith's legal practice, the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith, focuses exclusively on personal injury and wrongful death claims.
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