Are Electric Scooter Injuries Rising?
Electric scooters are a lightweight and economical option to get around and avoid crowded mass transit in the post-COVID world. They are a growing part of the “micromobility” movement, lightweight vehicles that may be borrowed from a self-service rental program for short-term use within a city.
Since their inception, electric scooters have been a polarizing subject with people either passionately advocating for them or seeking an outright ban. No matter how you feel about scooters, they have advantages and dangers.
Two high-profile accidents within two weeks of each other are causing elected leaders and concerned citizens across the country to rethink additional regulations for e-scooter drivers. “Gone Girl” actress Lisa Banes was crossing a street when she was hit by an electric scooter in Manhattan. She died from her injuries, and the scooter driver is still at large. Contrastingly, a push scooter driver was killed when he collided with a delivery truck.
These recent incidents were in New York, but California also has seen scooter fatalities from collisions and from riders falling off their scooter and into traffic. In June 2021, an elderly man died after being hit by a suspected drunk driver on a rented electric scooter in the Venice area of L.A.
Are E-Scooters Dangerous?
The overall number of accidents involving scooters has shot up in the last three years, which parallels their increased use. The National Association of City Transportation Officials estimates that the number of shared bikes and e-scooter trips in the U.S. rose from 84 million in 2018 to 136 million in 2019. There is no doubt electric scooter use is skyrocketing. This increased use has led to a spike in injuries.
A Henry Ford Health System study showed about 100,000 scooter-related injuries in the U.S. between 2009 and 2019. Scooter accident statistics were relatively stable year-over-year from 2009 to 2017. Those 17 years old and younger were the most likely to be injured. Since 2017, the number of accidents has increased each year with the 18- to 44-year-old crowd now the most injured. The incidence of total injuries increased 3.5 times, with more than 10% requiring hospitalization. The study showed almost 30% of the injuries were to the head and neck.
The most common e-scooter-related head and neck injuries included:
- Internal organs, including brain injuries, 32.5%
- Lacerations, 24.9%
- Contusions and abrasions, 15.6%
- Concussions, 11.1%
- Fractures, 7.8%
What Caused the Accidents?
Most e-scooter accidents involved cars and obstacles such as curbs, signs, and manhole covers. Failing brakes and wheels and other mechanical problems were cited as causes. Distracted driving was another common factor.
California Regulations for Electric Scooters
States and communities vary on how they regulate scooters and their use. Expanded use has prompted additional regulations for electric scooters. Only four states have left scooter use largely unregulated: South Carolina, South Dakota, Nebraska, and North Dakota. Only North Carolina requires DMV registration.
California regulated electric scooters in 2019 with Vehicle Code § 21235. The following scooter laws are in effect:
- You must have a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit.
- Drivers under 18 years of age must wear a helmet.
- Scooter speed limit is 15 miles per hour.
- Scooters can only be driven on streets with a 25 mph or less speed limit (unless the street has a designated bike lane).
- Riding on the sidewalk is prohibited.
- Use bike lanes when available.
- Obey sidewalk regulations.
- Operate the scooter alone, no passengers.
- Dismount and walk for left turns.
- Follow all the rules that apply to motor vehicles.
Other Tips to Safely Operate a Scooter
California’s regulations are designed to mitigate the likelihood of accidents on an electric scooter. Obeying these laws is an important first step in e-scooter safety.
While riding an electric scooter, you should also:
- Wear a helmet, as well as knee and elbow pads
- Watch for pedestrians, cars, and other obstacles
- Wear clothing that doesn’t interfere with your ability to ride
- Learn how the specific scooter you are riding functions
Rights for Those Injured by Electric Scooters
California laws require motor vehicles to be registered with the state and carry insurance for at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident with a minimum of $5,000 for property damage. E-scooters are exempt from these mandates. Yet you still have options should you be injured by someone operating one.
You may be entitled to damages – economic, personal, and, less often, punitive – if you were injured due to the negligence of an electric scooter driver. Lost wages, medical bills, emotional distress, and other losses can be potentially compensated.
At the Law Office of Robert J. Kaiser, our attorney has more than 20 years of experience in personal injury. We understand the uniqueness of each case we represent in Southern California. Our goal is to help you receive maximum compensation.
Call us at (661) 441-3446 or contact us online for a free case evaluation!