Scooters are becoming the newest trend. Apps like LimeBike, Bird and Spin enable people to unlock a scooter for a $1 an hour, and then ride it for 15 cents a minute. The scooter can be left wherever the rider chooses, where it waits to be unlocked by the next customer. A part of the trend is that electric scooter accidents are also on the upswing.
Whether it’s in traffic, on the sidewalk or simply carelessly placed, scooters are becoming the cause of injuries. And the question of who’s liable is one that more and more personal injury law firms are starting to field.
The short answer to the question is easy—liability is at the feet of either the company that owns the scooter, the rider who rented it, or both. If a defective scooter caused the accident—for example, with brakes locking up—the company is a clear target. But in other accident scenarios, the law turns murky when a plaintiff tries to prove it and get paid.
Unless the scooter itself was defective, there’s a good chance the company will be able to skirt liability and shift the blame onto the rider. But if it’s a case where the scooter was carelessly placed (e.g., in front of the door of a business), the rider might not be able to be found. If they can be found, it’s highly unlikely their auto insurance will cover any costs.
If there’s no insurance company to sue, plaintiffs might win a case against someone with no money to pay a settlement. And that’s a case no personal injury lawyer can afford to accept in the first place.
The electric scooter business is still in its infancy, so government regulation that applies specifically to these situations is non-existent. Regulation and laws that make it easier to hold the companies liable are the most attractive from a personal injury standpoint.