E-scooters have become a huge sensation in recent years, especially in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.
With the rise of rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber, so, too did e-scooter-sharing programs like Lime and Bird Rides become popular. People have even started buying their own e-scooters so they don’t have to rely on finding one available nearby.
However, as fun and convenient as e-scooters are, they can also be dangerous.
When these scooters started trending, there weren’t a lot of instructions or regulations about how to use them. And as such, people would simply hop on and ride around without being mindful of their actions and traffic regulations, which inevitably led to accidents.
This is why riders must educate themselves on e-scooter regulations and insurance policies. Like any vehicle accident, California scooter accidents can also be tragic and devastating.
So let’s take a closer look at what e-scooters are and the laws and insurance policies pertaining to them.
What Is an E-Scooter?
E-scooters are electric scooters that have a battery-powered motor. They have two wheels, a handlebar, and a footboard on which riders stand. They typically cannot reach speeds exceeding 15-20 mph.
While the term scooter has been used to describe vehicles such as mopeds and Vespas, these are not to be confused with e-scooters. Larger “scooters” like a Vespa or a moped can reach much higher speeds and are classified more similarly to motorcycles.
Individuals can purchase their own e-scooters, but they are most often rented and used for temporary rides around cities, similar to how city bikes are used. For example, companies like Bird Rides and Lime have mobile apps that allow people to locate and rent scooters nearby.
Using the app, you can rent the scooter with a credit card, use GPS to track your ride, and when you end the ride, you will typically be charged per minute or per mile.
California E-Scooter Laws
While there are no universal e-scooter traffic laws as of yet, many states where e-scooters have become popular have started passing their own state and local regulations.
- Insurance, license plates, or registration are not required for e-scooters.
- Only one person per scooter is allowed. No passengers.
- E-scooters may not be ridden on sidewalks but can be ridden on bike paths and trails.
- E-scooters may only be operated on roadways where the speed limit does not exceed 25 mph.
- Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet while riding an e-scooter.
Local municipalities and jurisdictions may also enforce additional regulations. But overall, there are currently not many laws regulating e-scooter use. As such, e-scooter accidents have started to become a problem.
California E-Scooter Insurance
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to e-scooters is insurance coverage when accidents occur. California does not require insurance for e-scooters, but that does not mean insurance should be ignored.
Whether you are riding your own scooter or a rented one, you could be hit by a car or you could cause an accident yourself involving another vehicle, a pedestrian, or even someone else on another scooter or a bike. As such, it’s important to understand how e-scooter insurance works.
Insurance Coverage for Your Own Personal E-Scooter
If you are in an e-scooter accident, the first source of recovery you should investigate is the responsible party’s auto insurance, as that will most certainly provide coverage for the damages you suffered in the accident. Should that coverage be minimal and not enough to cover all of your damages, then you’ll need to dig into your own insurance policies.
The only official insurance coverage available for personal e-scooters is called “personal mobility insurance,” but not many people carry such coverage. If you do not drive your own car, but use various means of transportation, like e-scooters, rideshares, rental cars, bikeshares, etc. then personal mobility insurance may be a good option for you to explore.
If you do drive, your own auto insurance may cover you if you are in an e-scooter accident. If there is no specific exclusion in your auto policy for e-scooters or “motorized scooters” then you will likely enjoy the protection of your own auto insurance to cover you in the event you are in an e-scooter accident. Note that you must have UM/UIM coverage (uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage) on your own auto policy to receive this benefit.
Homeowners or renters insurance may also offer some liability coverage, but it usually excludes motorized vehicles – whether or not an e-scooter falls under the definition of “motorized vehicle” would depend on the specific language of your insurance policy. If there is no specific exclusion for e-scooters in your policy, you may have a good argument that there’s coverage for your e-scooter accident.
Insurance Coverage for Rented E-Scooters
Some e-scooter sharing companies do provide liability coverage for those who rent their scooters. However, as it is not law to provide this insurance coverage, not all companies do so. Many user agreements that must be signed before the rental is allowed require riders to waive any liability, meaning you would be personally responsible for paying out-of-pocket for accident-related expenses caused to you or others.
Currently, Lime is one of the few—potentially one of the only—e-scooter companies that offers riders insurance options when renting their scooters. This includes the rider’s personal accident coverage and the rider’s liability coverage.
Bird Rides, the other popular e-scooter company, does not provide coverage for riders.
Again, personal mobility insurance may be something worth looking into if you are an avid rider of rented e-scooters.
What Happens if You Are in an E-Scooter Accident?
How an e-scooter accident is handled will depend on individual circumstances.
If a car hits an e-scooter rider:
If the driver of a car is responsible for an accident involving an e-scooter rider, that driver’s individual car insurance policy should cover some or even all of the accident-related costs.
If an e-scooter rider causes an accident:
If the e-scooter is responsible for an accident involving a car, pedestrian, or bicyclist, they will be held liable for damages. This includes their own injuries, as well as having to pay for the injuries and damages suffered by others involved in the accident.
If the e-scooter rider does not have their own coverage or coverage through the e-scooter company, they will likely have to pay out-of-pocket for the accident-related expenses.
We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus On Your Life
If you are involved in an e-scooter accident in California, your best option is to work with a personal injury attorney.
As there aren’t many traffic regulations regarding e-scooters, and with insurance coverage being questionable, navigating an e-scooter accident claim can be challenging. You will need the help of an attorney who has experience handling these kinds of accidents to ensure the best possible outcome.
At Sally Morin, we truly care about the people of California. We understand how confusing and uncertain e-scooter accidents can be and are dedicated to helping our clients get the compensation they deserve for their injuries and other damages. Call us at 877-380-8852 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.