Who Pays for Damages Caused by E-Scooters?
E-Scooters are increasingly popular across the U.S., especially in cities. Riders do not need to purchase insurance before they rent the motorized vehicle and zoom down the street. On the other hand, e-scooter companies like Lime and Bird do not conduct any testing at all to determine whether the rider who leased time on their e-scooter is a safe rider. Additionally, Lime and Bird do not perform safety checks on their e-scooters to make certain that their safety equipment such as the brakes and lights are in working order. So when an accident inevitably happens, the first question people will ask is, “who pays?”
Analysis of e-scooter accidents in California showed that the riders themselves are at a greater risk of injury or death than a pedestrian, even though many pedestrians are injured every day by discarded scooters. Scooter riders are suffering life-altering injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, compound and displaced bone fractures, and other severe injuries from falling from a speeding scooter or colliding with a vehicle or other object.
The Insurance Journal noted that bringing legal claims for damages suffered by injured riders against companies such as Bird and Lime, the most common manufacturers of E-scooters, are exceedingly difficult because of the waiver of claims the companies compel their customers to acknowledge before hopping on and speeding away. The scooter companies will include a waiver of rights and claims in the smartphone transaction. The waiver essentially says that the company is not responsible for the injuries of a rider, despite the obvious dangers of riding an e-scooter on a city street. The renter must acknowledge the waiver and agree to its terms to complete the transaction. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the renter checks the box and goes on their way — they never bother to read and understand the rights they are waiving and the legal implications of doing so. As a result, people who are in serious e-scooter accidents have a massive hill to climb to hold the e-scooter companies liable for injuries.
In the event of riders being struck by other negligent motorists on the roadway, traditional motor vehicle rules apply. Injured riders can pursue claims against motorists, including claims for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
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