Electric Scooters: Rules of The Road

Electric Scooter Injuries in Los Angeles Now Outweigh Bicycle and Pedestrian Injuries

The Westside of Los Angeles is covered in electric scooters these days and the medical community is feeling the impact. A recent study found that more electric scooter riders ended up in two Westside L.A. hospitals than either bicyclists or pedestrians.

Are Electric Scooter Injuries Just a Cost of LA’s “First Mile, Last Mile” Solution?

Scooters such as Bird, Lime, and Jump, are supposed to help with the quintessential Los Angeles commuter issue of the “first mile, last mile.” Here in Los Angeles, bus and metro or train often form the basis of a person’s commute using public transportation. However, users still usually complete the first and last portion on their own. The LA Metro websites explain that riders, “must first walk, bike, drive or roll themselves to and from the nearest station. This is referred to as the first and last mile of the user’s trip, or ‘first/last mile’ (FLM) for short.”

Electric scooters are supposed to solve this exact problem. But are these scooters worth the danger?

Head Injuries and Fractures Are Common Electric Scooter Injuries in Los Angeles

The study said that a whopping 40.2 percent of those electric scooter riders admitted to the hospital were suffering from a head injury. 31.7 percent were admitted for fractures. Only 4 percent of those injured were wearing a helmet. Roughly 11 percent of those injured riders were minors.

A Large Number of Electric Scooter Injuries in Los Angeles Aren’t Even Suffered by Those Riding the Scooters

8.4 percent of those injured weren’t even riding the scooter. They were mostly pedestrians struck by scooters on streets or sidewalks.  No matter what side of the scooter debate you are on, people have strong opinions about the scooters and whether they can safely operate on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Who is Financially Responsible for Electric Scooter Injuries?

Are you covered? What happens if you are injured by a person riding a scooter? It’s not totally clear.

Although Lime claims that it has $1 million in liability insurance on each ride, both Lime and Bird make it clear on their websites that they are not liable for any claim whatsoever. Check out the “Assumption of the Risk” section (Section 15) of Bird Scooter’s Rental Agreement and Section 5 of Lime Scooter’s User Agreement. Not even one that arises from negligence on the part of the rider. And, riders assume all risk. Bird users agree to a liability waiver on the app before being allowed to hop on the scooter. Further, Bird and Lime both require that riders agree to indemnify the company for claims. Geez!

What does this mean? If you get hurt while riding a scooter, you are liable.

If you hurt someone else while riding a scooter, you are liable. 

Like any traffic accident, if you are the cause of injury to someone else, you are going to be held liable for that. Whether you can apply the insurance coverage provided by the scooter rental company or not is a question you’ll likely need a scooter accident lawyer to answer.

Make sure you know what laws govern electric scooters in California before you start scootin’ around with reckless abandon.

If you suffer injuries from an electric scooter that you are not even riding, getting paid may be difficult.

If you have nothing to do with scooters in any shape or form but you are injured by one flying down the sidewalk, you might also find yourself out of luck unless the person who hit you has an insurance policy that personally covers them in this situation.

Sadly, your best option would be to assert a claim against the scooter rider’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance or pursue them for personal assets. That is, assuming they have any of these. Many of these scooter riders are tourists from other countries or people with no insurance or assets. Even if they do have a homeowner’s or renter’s policy, these types of policies typically have exclusions (meaning they won’t cover policyholders) for accidents or injuries caused by “motorized vehicles.” But, these little electric scooters are not considered  “motor vehicles” by the Insurance Code (sections 11580.2, 11580.06), so they should be covered.

Also, if you have your own auto accident insurance, that won’t even protect you if you are injured while riding a scooter or if you are hit by someone riding a scooter. Your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM insurance) would only come into play if the accident was caused by an actual “motorized vehicle” not one of these scooters.

Get Compensated for Your Electric Scooter Injuries

If you’ve suffered electric scooter injuries in Los Angeles, contact the Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers California scooter accident team. We can offer sound legal advice you can rely on. We have over 20 years of experience in handling California traffic accidents, including serious injury scooter accidents. We are experts in helping clients navigate the complex scooter accident claims process.

Video Transcript

I’d say the top five injuries caused by electric scooter accidents are head injuries and upper extremity injury injuries. Those include wrist injuries, hand and finger injuries, and shoulder injuries, so I think that’s four. The other one would be radial head, elbow fractures. So the reason these are so common is because when you fall on a scooter or you get hit, often what happens is the first thing you do is put your hands down. And so when you put your hands down and brace your fall or stop yourself, a lot of wrist fractures, and you think oh, big deal, risk fracture, that’s not like breaking a leg. Well, yeah, it’s not, it’s actually a lot more complex, there are so many bones in your hand, in your wrist, your fingers, and often especially nowadays, people rely on these to make money. So even if you just have a desk job, this is what you do all day, so it can be really intense to have an injury, especially with your dominant hand or wrist. We’ve had a lot of clients who have to relearn how to do things like brushing their teeth or typing with one hand while they’re recovering from their injuries. And there are a lot of hand specialists in San Francisco and Los Angeles who deal with very specific surgical procedures to the hands, wrists, and fingers. So that is super common. Shoulder injuries again, those are also very common dislocations or fractures. Sometimes all you need to do is immobilize your shoulder and just put it in a sling for a while and it will heal itself. But then oftentimes you have to get it reattached through surgical means, those can be pretty painful. A lot of times we hear from clients who have those injuries, who then they have to stop going into public transportation and crowded places because if they get bumped or hit, it just sets it off. But I guess now during COVID, nobody is in crowded situations anyway. And then again, the other major category would be head injuries and of course, nobody likes to experience a head injury. Those run the gamut from a mild to a traumatic brain injury and those can cause all sorts of symptoms such as memory loss, cognitive difficulties, a lot of things that aren’t visible at first glance but over time, you start to realize that things aren’t quite right. Those are things you want to get tested for right away if you go to the emergency room. Often the emergency room can provide you with what’s called a Glasgow score to let you know if your brain function is normal or abnormal. So those are the… Probably the main two categories would be brain injuries and upper extremity injuries with the specific ones being hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and head injury.

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