Many people think that San Antonio’s e-scooters are just a fun and efficient way to travel. Unfortunately, an increasing number of riders and pedestrians are getting hurt in e-scooter accidents, and many crash victims suffer life-changing traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
E-scooter crashes are different than other motor vehicle or pedestrian collisions. After a wreck, you’ll need a lawyer who understands this developing area of injury law. Otherwise, you’ll run into obstacles and may lose out on compensation. Keep reading to learn more about the most common trends, injuries, and legal issues in e-scooter crashes.
Common Trends in Texas E-Scooter Crashes
A recent study conducted by Austin Public Health (APH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected data on injured e-scooter riders in Austin, Texas, over three months. The APH study identified several common risk factors in e-scooter crashes.
- While injured riders ranged from 9 to 72-year-olds, nearly 50% of victims were 18 to 29 years old.
- Over a third of the injured riders were on their first e-scooter ride.
- Downtown areas and college campuses experienced the most e-scooter crashes.
- Over half of the injured were riding in the street, a third on the sidewalk. (Notably, it is illegal to ride e-scooters on San Antonio’s sidewalks.)
- Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays experienced the highest concentration of e-scooter crashes.
Nearly half of all the APH study’s injured riders experienced head trauma, including fractures, lacerations, and abrasions. 15% of the victims showed signs of a TBI. Unfortunately, less than 1% were wearing a helmet.
Thankfully, there were no fatalities during the study. However, 88% of those interviewed had injuries serious enough to require an ER visit.
Why Are TBIs and Head Trauma Common During E-Scooter Crashes?
While the APH study has gained the most attention, other studies show similar results. In 2018, researchers did a year-long study of e-scooter injuries in Southern California. It found that 40.2% of e-scooter injuries involved head trauma and that only 4.4% of riders used helmets.
Both studies came to the troubling conclusion that many e-scooter injuries are preventable.
Like other vulnerable road users, e-scooter riders travel at relatively high speeds but are not protected by safety systems. When someone is speeding along at 15 mph on a scooter and abruptly comes to a stop, their bodies must absorb these forces. This can lead to broken facial and skull bones, soft tissue injuries, and brain trauma.
While San Antonio and e-scooter companies like Lime and Bird encourage helmet use, it is not mandatory.
What Causes E-Scooter Crashes?
E-scooter crashes can result from a variety of factors, and the victims are sometimes not the scooter rider at all, but a pedestrian or cyclist.
Other Motor Vehicles
10% of the injuries in the APH study involved motor vehicles. Another 6% of crashes involved an e-scooter rider swerving or jumping off to avoid a collision with another vehicle.
Compared to other types of e-scooter crashes, a collision with an at-fault driver is relatively simple. Under Texas’ injury laws, a driver who negligently hits an e-scooter rider may be financially responsible for their injuries—and their liability insurance policies should apply.
According to the APH study, 19% of injured riders said that their e-scooter malfunctioned. This includes problems with the scooter’s steering, engine, and brakes. Reports of mechanical failures and damaged e-scooters are common in San Antonio and elsewhere. According to news reports, both Lime and Bird carry $1 million liability insurance policies, which may cover improper maintenance or scooter defects.
However, victims may face challenges in a negligent maintenance claim against an e-scooter company. Bird and other providers hire independent contractors to find and perform basic maintenance on their scooters. Then, they argue that they are not responsible for the actions and failures of these gig workers.
Failure to Warn
Many electric scooter companies provide a brief tutorial that you must complete before using a scooter. The tutorials are often short and can be swiped through without actually reading the safety instructions. However, if someone is injured, the company may argue that they provided adequate instructions and warnings—and try to blame the victim for their injuries.
User negligence covers a variety of scenarios of e-scooter crashes. Inattention and driving too fast for conditions are two of the more common user-error causes of crashes. Distracted driving is also common on e-scooters.
When a reckless scooter rider injures someone else, they may be responsible for the victim’s injuries. However, finding insurance coverage may not be easy, since auto insurance typically will not cover e-scooter crashes. An injury lawyer may be able to help you identify potential sources of compensation.
Should I Consult With an E-Scooter Injury Lawyer?
E-scooters are still a new phenomenon, and lawmakers are just starting to address their safety and scooter injury claims. In this uncertain environment, it’s always a good idea to speak with a lawyer after an e-scooter crash—especially if it caused a catastrophic TBI or head injury.
A lawyer can help you identify your claims, assess the strength of your case, and stand up to Bird or Lime’s insurance companies and defense attorneys.
“Like other vulnerable road users, e-scooter riders travel at relatively high speeds but are not protected by safety systems.”
Furthermore, some e-scooter rental agreements include an arbitration clause. This means you will have to go through an alternative dispute resolution process rather than being able to take the case to court. Arbitration gives the company more control over the proceedings and allows them to keep any decisions private. To stand a chance, you’ll need a lawyer by your side.
Crosley Law Handles Complicated Cases
Crosley Law’s team of personal injury attorney have experience handling complicated cases that involve specific nuances such as traumatic brain injuries and e-scooter laws. If you or a loved one have been injured in an e-scooter accident, our attorneys may be able to help.
Austin Public Health & The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (April 2019). Dockless electric scooter-related injuries study. Austin, TX: City of Texas. Retrieved from https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/ files/Health/Epidemiology/APH_Dockless_Electric_Scooter_Study_5-2-19.pdf
Bussewitz, C. (2019, June 28). Scooter riders advised to avoid insurance pothole. Insurance Journal. Retrieved from https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2019/06/28/530715.htm
Holder, S. (10 January 2019). Anatomy of an electric scooter crash. City Lab News. Retrieved from https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/01/ scooter-crash-accidents-safety-liability-bird-lime/577687/
Trivedi, T., Liu, C., Antonio, A.L. (2019, January 25). Injuries associated with standing electric scooter use. JAMA Network Open. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2722574
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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