Motorized Scooter Accidents in Denver
If you happen to live in rural America there is the chance that you missed the “invasion of the scooters,” seen in larger cities—including Denver—across the nation. Currently, the primary motorized scooter companies include Bird, Lime, Skip, Scoot and Spin. The advent of motorized scooter rentals, while seemingly a great way to zip around crowded city streets without having to find parking spaces, is not without its downside and its critics. As an example, last March, hundreds of motorized scooters quietly descended on San Francisco. A short four months later, they were gone, ordered by panicked city leaders to be removed. Then in August 2018, the city allowed two motorized scooter companies, Scoot and Skip, to test 625 scooters in the city for one year.
Motorized Scooters in Denver
At present, scooter companies operate in 65 cities and are all vying for the “top prize,” New York City. According to 5280, Denver’s Mile High Magazine, more than 2,000 motorized scooters descended on Denver this past fall, provided by five different companies, with each having permission to maintain 350 scooters within city boundaries. Unlike some other cities, however, Denver officials originally implemented ordinances related to the scooters—which were deemed “toy vehicles–allowing them to be ridden on sidewalks, but not in bike lanes or roadways.
In early January, that all changed when the Denver City Council changed the name from “toy vehicles” to “electric mobility scooters,” then approved an ordinance allowing electric scooters to be ridden in bike lanes or roads but not on sidewalks. The ordinance was unanimously approved—13-0. Only under circumstances in which no bike lanes exist, and the speed limit on the roadway is higher than 30 mph can an electric mobility scooter be ridden on a sidewalk. Further, no scooter is allowed to carry more than one person at a time. Other cities, like Seattle, are doing their best to keep the motorized scooters out of their city until they can put some comprehensive rules into place to manage the scooters.
Motorized Scooters Leading to an Uptick in ER Visits
Perhaps a bigger issue pertaining to motorized scooters is the number of accidents directly tied to scooter use. According to a Washington Post article, victims of motorized scooter accidents have been pouring into emergency rooms across the nation, with the same types of injuries doctors normally see in victims of car accidents—broken noses, broken wrists, facial lacerations, internal injuries, spinal cord injuries, soft tissue injuries, fractures and head trauma. In Santa Monica, CA, the city’s fire department responded to 34 serious accidents involving motorized scooters just over the 2018 summer months. There were 18 serious injuries resulting from motorized scooter accidents just over the last two weeks in July 2018. One San Francisco ER doctor said he sees as many as 10 severe injuries tied to motorized scooters every single week.
In fact, the Washington Post interviewed ER doctors in seven major cities; physicians in each city reported a spike in severe accidents following the launch of motorized scooters in their city. Critics of the motorized scooters—including doctors, lawyers, scooter mechanics and former riders—all say essentially the same thing: while the scooters may look like toys, they can inflict the same level of injury as other motorized vehicles on the roadways, yet there are virtually no safety regulations the scooter industry must abide by. Further, even the scooter companies themselves acknowledge there could be serious mechanical problems with many of the scooters which they would not be aware of unless and until the problems are flagged by riders.
Poorly Trained Scooter Mechanics a Factor in Scooter Accidents?
Some say at least a part of the problem lies in the fact that many of the scooters are poorly maintained, with mechanic applicants only needing to show they have a vehicle and a smartphone to qualify. Bad brakes and sticky accelerators seem to be a fairly common occurrence in scooters rented to the public—both problems potentially leading to serious injuries, or even death. Most of the scooter “mechanics” are “trained” via a YouTube video.
Scooter Companies Nixing Lawsuits, Requiring Binding Arbitration for Scooter Accident Victims
Unfortunately, once riders are injured, they may be dismayed to find that at least two of the biggest motorized scooter companies—Bird and Lime—require consumers to agree not to sue, rather to resolve disputes through binding arbitration. Skip also recently informed users that an arbitration agreement would be added to the user agreement. Binding arbitration has long been shown to place consumers at a decided disadvantage. Despite this, there was a class action product liability lawsuit filed in Los Angeles this last October against Bird and Lime, claiming “indiscriminate, negligent and grossly negligent actions related to deployment of defective scooters…”
What Makes Scooters So Dangerous?
Electric scooters resemble the traditional Razor scooter in design; instead of using your foot to propel the scooter, you push a throttle button with your thumb, squeezing a hand brake to slow down or stop. You locate a scooter via an app, then when you arrive at your destination you leave the scooter where you please—no designated pick-up or drop off points. While fun to ride, motorized scooters can present certain dangers, including:
- Despite Denver’s regulations for motorized scooters, most riders are unaware of where they can and cannot operate the scooters.
- Helmets are seldom worn by those using motorized scooters, which can lead to traumatic brain injuries in the event of an accident.
- Scooters travel at higher speeds than you might think, reaching speeds of up to 15 mph.
- Few scooter riders wear proper footwear or even long pants and long sleeved-shirts to protect them from harm.
- Just like drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, scooter riders are often distracted.
Who’s to Blame?
Regulations and liability issues related to electric scooters are definitely in flux and vary from city to city. In most cases, however, liability for an electric scooter accident is based on negligence, particularly when the accident was caused by a negligent driver who might have been distracted, exceeding the speed limit or otherwise acting irresponsibly. Other parties who could be found liable for a motorized scooter accident include:
- The scooter company, if the accident was the result of a scooter malfunction or defect;
- Possibly the party responsible for road maintenance; or
- Another third party whose actions directly contributed to your motorized scooter accident.
It is important to remember that the negligence of the scooter driver can directly affect the level of compensation recovered in a scooter accident claim. Since the City of Denver now requires scooters to stay off sidewalks, a rider who was on a sidewalk at the time of the crash could find his or her damages diminished under Colorado’s contributory negligence laws.
Getting the Assistance You Need Following a Denver Scooter Accident
At the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya our electric scooter accident lawyers are very familiar with the complexities associated with Lime, Bird and other electric scooter accidents. If you have been in an electric scooter accident, it is important that you take immediate action. Our electric scooter accident attorneys are ready to protect your rights and your future while exploring your options and fighting aggressively for full, fair compensation. Contact Dianne Sawaya today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.