Both privately owned or Rent-to-ride electric scooters, or “e-scooters,” are the latest micro-mobility fad to hit New York’s busy streets. E-scooter rental companies, including Bird and Lyme, advertise these devices as fun, trendy, and cost-effective transportation options. However, state lawmakers and safety organizations tend to have mixed feelings about these vehicles. Just recently have they finally become legal in New York.
The following safety concerns have been linked to electric scooters:
- These devices are unstable by design.
- Scooterists are vulnerable to distracted and speeding motorists.
- Roadside clutter and uneven pavement can easily overturn a scooter.
- Drivers are not used to seeing these devices on the road.
- E-scooters lack built-in safety features, and companies don’t provide customers with helmets.
- Electric scooters are popular with young and inexperienced riders.
- Before renting a scooter, customers need to read an extensive (skimmable) liability waiver that protects the company from certain civil lawsuits.
Common Causes of Electric Scooter Crashes
- Road Hazards: From debris in the road to potholes and uneven surfaces, there are numerous hazards scooter riders can encounter that might cause them to lose control.
- Lack of Visibility: Electric scooters are significantly smaller than cars and trucks, which makes it more difficult for drivers to see them when making turns or changing lanes.
- Crashes with Motor Vehicles: Riders remain incredibly vulnerable while on board these products. Whether by being "doored" or other interactions with motor vehicles on the street, the risk remains very real for the user.
Last February, a Consumer Reports investigation revealed that there were over 1,500 e-scooter injuries reported in 2018. According to the report, “Several doctors at trauma centers told CR they’ve been treating serious injuries related to e-scooters since the ride-share fleets were launched.
A scooterist can sustain the following injuries and more during an accident:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Concussions and contusions
- Nasal fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Multiple bone fractures
- Neck injuries
Sarah Holder, a staff writer at CityLab, wrote “Anatomy of an Electric Scooter Crash” after she was injured by a malfunctioning electric scooter. In her article, Holder describes how she has ridden scooters with broken brakes, sticky accelerators, and faulty motors, all dangerous issues that can result in severe and even fatal injuries.
Why Are E-Scooters Dangerous?
As of 2018, over 85,000 e-scooters were available for public use in about 100 US cities. Needless to say, these powerful little machines are all the rage these days. If you choose to ride an e-scooter, we encourage you to take the necessary precautions. Time and time again, we see riders who have run into issues with these scooters, so much so that we have developed standard protocol for the steps we need to take in these cases. According to a study published in JAMA Surgery, the number of scooter-related injuries and hospital admissions in the United States grew by 222% between 2014 and 2018, resulting in more than 39,000 injuries. Another study conducted by the CDC showed that for every 100,000 e-scooter trips taken, 20 individuals will have an injury. Some other jarring statistics about the dangers of e-scooters include:
- 48% of the individuals injured in these studies were between the ages of 18-29, meaning that young adults are suffering the most from the dangers of e-scooters
- 38% of the individuals injured reported that they would ride an e-scooter again, which leads us to believe that these injuries are not interfering with the popularity of e-scooters
- 33% of those injured were first-time riders
- Nearly 50% of those injured sustained a severe injury
- Individuals were most likely to become injured in the evening or early morning between the hours of 6pm and 6am
So what is it that makes e-scooters such a liability? For one, many riders approach these machines with a false sense of confidence because they are not given clear instructions on the best ways to ride them and their potential dangers. This means that sometimes, the crashes can be a user issue, but other times, the poor design and lack of communication with customers is to blame. Below are some features of e-scooters that make them particularly dangerous:
- The scooters use consumer-quality parts only.
Of the many e-scooters on the road, most of them are consumer models. This means they are not constructed with materials designed to stand constant use. Many of them are made with cheap plastic that deteriorates and becomes damaged easily. These e-scooters were designed for one owner to ride a few times daily. Of course, when they are on the sidewalks free for many to use, they often withstand much more use than their original design intended. This can lead to overuse, operation issues, and ultimately, injuries for the rider.
- The scooters have a high center of gravity.
To ride an e-scooter properly, you must stand on the scooter during the ride. This is the proper way to ride the machine; however, it makes the center of gravity for riders is close to the ground. Furthermore, the spacing of the wheels is not wide enough to provide enough stability that is required for this center of gravity.
- The wheels are small and solid.
The wheels on an e-scooter are quite small. On most models, they are only nine inches or less. Furthermore, wheels are solid instead of being filled with air. This is a cheap design that lessens the need for maintenance, but it means that the scooters do not absorb shocks very well, and they are not able to easily navigate the turns and twists of the road.
- There is a hidden fender brake on the back tire.
Although this is not the case with every e-scooter, some e-scooters are equipped with an emergency brake that is located on the back wheel. If you are not sure what it is, you might think it is a simple piece of plastic. However, it is the best way to slow down the scooter and bring it to a halt. If you are not aware of this, you will not be able to use the hidden brake.
- Headlights on e-scooters are weak.
This is another discrepancy between the intention of the design and the current use of the machines. These machines were not intended to be used on the roads at night, but there is nothing stopping consumers from using them in this way. This is quite dangerous and can cause riders to run into objects or to be run into themselves by oncoming traffic.
Who Is Liable When an E-Scooter Accident Occurs?
Electric scooter litigation is an untested legal field with an alarmingly small body of precedent. The transportation companies have established and lobbied for legal loopholes that make it difficult to for accident survivors to obtain civil justice in a traditional sense. If you’re interested in pursuing damages after an e-scooter accident, then you’re going to need the services of an innovative, knowledgeable, and experienced personal injury attorney.
Depending on your circumstances, you may have grounds to file a claim against the following entities:
- A negligent motorist
- A negligent Truck or Bus Operator
- The City of New York or another municipality for a road defect
- Construction company or Utility company for road defect
Why Flanzig and Flanzig for an E-Bike or Scooter crash?
The laws involving e-bikes, e-scooters, Revel mopeds and other alternative forms of transportation are changing rapidly. Some of these companies even include liability provisions that riders electronically sign, without proper notice, limiting their rights to file lawsuits. Daniel Flanzig has actively been involved in e-bike legislation and micro-mobility legislation for over the last 7 years and has even given testimony in front of the New York City Council on the amendments to e-bike legislation in the City. He is well versed in the law on these products as well as the cause of crashes during their use. As one of the few attorneys in the New York area skilled in this area of practice, we can offer a unique ability to represent your interests when involved in this type of crash.
In 2019, Daniel Flanzig participated in one of the first Continuing Education Programs in the Country focused on e-scooter litigation. A link to the presentation is here.
Explore Your Legal Options Today
Contact the E-scooter accident lawyers at Flanzig & Flanzig, LLP if you or a loved one has been harmed in a collision involving an electric scooter or moped. Our legal team has been actively involved in micro-mobility legislation for the last 5 years and are well-versed in the laws and regulations surrounding these vehicles. With our guidance, you can secure monetary damages that cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses.
|Limited-use motorcycle requirements|
|REQUIRED?||CLASS A, OVER 30-40 MPH||CLASS B, OVER 20-30 MPH||CLASS C, 20 MPH OR LESS|
|Driver license / permit||M/MJ 3||any license class 4||any license class 5|
|Headlight on when operating||required||required||required|
|Helmet & eye protection||required||required||recommended|
|May operate on||any traffic lane||right-hand lane or |
|right-hand lane or |
|Title||not required||not required||not required|
More information can be found on the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Website.
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