Injury Lawsuits Against Dockless Scooters: What You Need To Know
Last month, nine people in Los Angeles banded together to file a class action lawsuit against scooter rental companies like Lime and Bird. They cited “products liability and gross negligence,” alleging that the dockless scooters from these companies are not safe for their intended purpose. Some of the plaintiffs were riders, others were pedestrians, but all were injured in some way by what they claim were malfunctioning scooters.
Scooter rentals may be popular throughout Southern California, but they are now facing a growing number of legal concerns, from injury claims to proposed regulations. Have you suffered an injury involving one of these two-wheelers? Here’s what you need to know about a claim.
Injuries Around Dockless Scooters
The class action lawsuit filed in October is only one of many mounting claims stemming from rental scooter injuries.
In a separate case, a 63-year-old woman was riding her scooter on Laurel Street in San Diego when she realized the brakes on the two-wheeler weren’t working. As she picked up speed towards a busy intersection, she was forced to lay the scooter down and skid for several feet until she stopped. Because of this, two bones on her right hand were crushed, her knuckle was fractured, and her leg was bruised badly. The necessary surgery and other bills cost her about $8,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.
A similar incident occurred in Balboa Park, where a 58-year-old woman had to jump off her scooter which she claims was speeding out of control. She sustained a broken arm that required a plate and screws, and for this, she is also pursuing a legal case.
And just two weeks ago, a 31-year-old scooter rider also found herself unable to slow down for yet unknown reasons on the 2100 block of Broadway, South Dakota. After jumping off the vehicle, she was sent to the hospital for her serious thighbone fracture.
According to Scripps Mercy Hospital, they have seen at least 30 injuries involving dockless scooters since only June of this year.
Amid these injuries, the San Diego city council is deliberating possible rules to improve safety around rental scooters. Among these rules is reducing the scooters’ speed limit to as low as 8 miles per hour. Currently, scooters from Bird, Lime, and Razor can travel up to 15 mph.
Regulations already exist which apply to dockless scooters, such as no sidewalk riding and no riding while intoxicated. However, it has been seen time and time again that such rules are often violated, leading to accidents.
Potential Cases And Liable Parties
What legal remedies are available to those who have suffered in dockless scooter accidents? This depends on the circumstances around the injury and the various parties that may be considered liable. Here are some scenarios:
- Product liability. Brake failures, stuck throttles, and difficult controls are some common examples of scooter defects. Product liability may apply whether a scooter is defective by design or by a single mechanical error. This could mean that the scooter rental company is responsible for the injuries and other damages arising from the defect.
- Premises liability.This legal term refers to a property owner’s responsibility to keep their premises safe for visitors. That means if you were legally riding within someone’s property – like a driveway or a parking lot – and the property was left unsafe by the owner, causing you to crash,you may have a claim against this owner.
- Personal injury from negligent rider. If you were a pedestrian who was injured due to the irresponsible actions of a scooter rider, you may be able to claim compensation from him or her.
- Class action lawsuit. If you feel that many other people have suffered while using scooters from the same company, you may consider consolidating your case with theirs in what is called a class action. By joining together with other plaintiffs, you can share the resources needed to pursue the case.
- Claims against the government. Certain government agencies or offices have the responsibility of keeping public spaces safe. If they fail this task, we might see poorly maintained streets and broken sidewalks, which invite accidents. In San Diego, this is very common, and the City has in fact had to pay many claimants who sustained injuries due to broken pavements.
Challenges In A Rental Scooter Lawsuit
It’s important to note that while you may have several legal options to pursue compensation, there are also known challenges when claiming for a dockless scooter injury.
One is that you could be facing powerful opponents. If you are claiming against a scooter company or a government entity, you must be prepared to stand up to influential insurers and well-equipped legal teams.
Further, if you were injured as a scooter rider – and therefore a customer of the rental company – certain user agreements may hinder your claim. In fact, scooter rental companies typically have lengthy contracts that greatly limit their liabilities in accidents. These contracts can be read through the companies’ apps, and customers have to agree to them before they can operate a scooter.
Adding to these is the challenge of putting together evidence. A dockless scooter can be left anywhere in the city after a rider is done using it, and another user nearby could conveniently pick it up for a paid ride. In this system, it is difficult to trace a scooter malfunction all the way back to the rental company. Likely, a plaintiff would have to prove that it was not user error that initiated the accident.
Challenges like these can be difficult to surmount, especially because laws throughout California are still catching up to the dockless innovation. But know that it is still truly possible to claim what you deserve for your scooter injuries. Enlist a competent injury lawyer who has been proven to succeed even in complex cases. If you are still unsure about your legal options, don’t hesitate to talk to a reliable attorney first in a free initial consultation.
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