On June 15, 2019, the city of Chicago kicked off a pilot program that made 2,500 electric scooters available to riders across a 50-mile test zone. The scooters, which were provided by ten different companies including Lyft and Jump (owned by Uber), are unlocked with a code sent via mobile app, taken from point A to point B, and then left to be retrieved and recharged by company employees. According to local authorities, riders are to keep off sidewalks, and though helmets are encouraged, they aren’t required.
Chicago is not the first city to face an invasion of electric scooters. In March 2018, three companies, Bird, Lime and Spin, debuted their scooters in San Francisco. Since this event, known as Scootergeddon, municipalities worldwide have struggled with integrating scooters into motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The results have been mixed.
Studies Find Significant Risk of Head Injuries in City Scooter Accidents
After reviewing patient data from 249 Los Angeles scooter accidents, a recent study found that 40% of victims suffered head injuries and 32% had broken bones. Like motorcyclists, scooter operators are less protected from their environment than occupants of cars and trucks. This makes them more vulnerable to impact and susceptible to secondary injuries caused by being knocked from their rides.
According to the study, 80% of accidents were due to riders simply falling off. If experience bears this out, the percentage of riders who sustain injuries may be even higher in Chicago than in sunny LA. Rough winter weather leaves potholes, which, at 15 mph, are not easy to dodge.
Scooters are also capable of weaving in and out of traffic and are difficult for motorists to see. This brings the potential for fatal wrecks like one that occurred in Washington D.C. in September 2018. After colliding with an SUV, the operator of a Lime scooter was dragged for 20 yards before dying of his injuries at an area hospital. On June 10, 2019, a Paris rider was struck and killed by a truck.
This study is similar to the results of scooter rider accidents in Austin:
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied scooter injuries in Austin over an 87-day period and confirmed 192 scooter-related injuries, approximately half of which involved serious injuries such as:
- Bone fractures
- Nerve, tendon, and ligament injuries
- Admitted for more than 48 hours in the hospital
- Severe bleeding or hemorrhage
- Organ damage
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Indeed, the CDC researchers found that 45% of the scooter-related injuries in Austin involved traumatic head injuries, including TBIs of varying severity.
Though municipal governments are still sorting out how best to deal with electric scooters, a 2018 survey found that 70% of Americans who live in cities view these devices positively. Scooters are convenient, green, and less expensive than an Uber or Lyft. This could position them to become the preferred mode of transportation for low-income residents who want more freedom than public transportation can offer.
Liability in Electric Scooter Accidents
Yet, as we have already seen, riding an electric scooter can be dangerous, especially when operators are forced to share the road with cars, trucks and SUVs. If you have been injured in a scooter accident involving a motor vehicle, you should contact an attorney. For those seriously injured in scooter-related accidents caused by the carelessness of another, it’s vital you seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer with knowledge of the specific issues involved in proving liability and damages.
Our attorneys are experienced in handling accident claims of all kinds and have the expertise and compassion to ensure that you receive the justice you deserve.
For a Free Consultation with one of Passen & Powell’s top-rated personal injury lawyers, call us at 312-527-4500.