Electric scooters are all over downtown Louisville and may soon be seen in Lexington. They are marketed as a new alternative to cars, bicycles, and ridesharing in metropolitan areas and college campuses. While the concept is innovative and e-scooter companies are growing rapidly, there are some legitimate concerns about the safety of the scooters for riders, pedestrians, and drivers sharing the roads and sidewalks.
Common Electric Scooter Injuries
Since this industry is so new, there is not much data on accidents and injuries associated with the use of these motorized vehicles. However, studies are beginning to emerge with some troubling statistics. California was one of the first places that e-scooters were introduced. The University of California reviewed data from 2 Southern California hospitals and found that 249 people had been injured between September 1, 2017, and August 31, 2018, and approximately 1/3 of these injuries arrived via ambulance. About 92% of the injuries were scooter riders while the rest were pedestrians hit by the scooters or injured by falls over parked scooters. Only 4% of the injured riders were wearing helmets.
Austin Public Health also initiated a study that was overseen by the CDC, which found 271 people injured from September 5, 2018, through November 30, 2018. 1/3 of the riders were injured on their 1st use of an e-scooter and nearly half of the injuries involved a head injury. Of these head injuries, only 1 person was wearing a helmet. It is assumed there are many more injuries associated with e-scooters that go unreported since most hospitals do not have the capability of tracking scooter injuries in existing medical databases.
E-Scooters in the State of Kentucky
In March 2019, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed a bill into law that handles electric scooters the same as bicycles, which means scooters provided by companies such as Bird, Lime, Lyft, and Jump do not have to register them in Kentucky or purchase insurance. Additionally, the scooters can be parked on sidewalks provided they do not interfere with pedestrian traffic. Finally, there is no mandate for helmets. There are currently over 100 e-scooters in Louisville and the amount could grow to over 1,000, also increasing the number of injuries.
When people want to utilize electric scooters, they are required to use the company’s app to rent and pay for the scooter. The app makes efforts to have users review safety information and asks them to allegedly e-sign some a waiver, though a strong concern is that many riders are not adequately warned or educated before hitting the road. Many likely do not sufficiently review the safety tutorial or waivers, some of which may be over 200 pages long. Unfortunately, very few riders have a helmet handy when they decide to ride the e-scooters and scooter provides must be aware of these issues. Nonetheless, they fail to put in safeguards.
There is also growing concern about how e-scooter companies maintain their scooters, as there are reports of injuries from the collapsed handlebars, locked brakes, and various wheel or tire issues. Many riders may be intoxicated while using the scooters, which is a potentially deadly mistake.
Why You Should Contact An Attorney After an Electric Scooter Injury
The legal issues associated with e-scooter accidents are complex and largely unchartered, but the injuries are real and often severe. The electric scooter industry offers potential solutions for environmentally-friendly, short-haul transportation, but there needs to be some oversight to keep our communities safe. If you or a family member is seriously hurt in an accident involving an electric scooter, contact Brett H. Oppenheimer to reach an experienced product liability attorney who will go above and beyond on your behalf.
We offer free consultations and operate on a contingency basis. Contact our firm by calling (502)242-8877 or filling out the contact form on this page.