As electric scooter sharing companies like Lime and Bird move into more and more cities, it is probably only a matter of time before they come to Pennsylvania. In fact, while they are currently forbidden from both the roads and sidewalks by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), there are signs that Pennsylvania's stance is evolving.
Should the vehicles be permitted in cities like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, we would likely see a sudden and sharp rise in E-scooter accidents and injuries. Should you ever be the victim of an E-scooter accident, reaching out to the personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can be an important first step towards recovering the compensation you need and deserve.
Why E-Scooters Are So Dangerous
E-scooter sharing companies allow people to reserve, pay for, and ride electric scooters using nothing more than a smartphone app. Similar to bike-sharing programs that have also sprouted up in cities, E-scooters are different in that they are “dockless” – riders can leave them wherever they want after their ride, rather than search for a parking dock.
While convenient for short rides, E-scooters are also quite dangerous. The companies that provide them do not provide mandatory lessons on how or where to ride their vehicles, and most people do not fully understand the capabilities of an E-scooter or what traffic rules and regulations that they need to abide by. The result is completely foreseeable: E-scooter riders careening dangerously on sidewalks where pedestrians have to scramble out of the way, or on busy streets where they confuse the drivers of cars and trucks and pose a serious risk of an accident.
Accidents Caused by Rider Error or Recklessness
It seems the vast majority of E-scooter accidents that have happened stem from poor riding habits of the person on the scooter.
Many of these crashes and the injuries that they cause happen when the E-scooter rider brings a poor understanding of the rules of the road into the situation. To an extent, these crashes are understandable: E-scooters fall into an awkward place somewhere between a bike and a motorcycle – one of which can sometimes be ridden on sidewalks, while another cannot. Because E-scooters are a kind of hybrid vehicle, the rules and traffic regulations themselves are vague or even silent on the issue. In fact, the city of Philadelphia is a great example of how a lot of the rules of the road fail to even comprehend the presence of E-scooters. After passing an ordinance in June 2018 that regulated the use of E-scooters in Philadelphia, city officials discovered that the state DOT already had guidance on the issue that said E-scooters were not street-legal. Because the state's regulation trumped the city's, and because the state's was so clear and explicit, Philadelphia's ordinance had to be thrown away.
But E-scooter riders in other cities have shown that it is not just a poor understanding of how the rules of the road apply to scooters that create crashes. Some riders are simply too reckless when they are on the vehicles. Veering from the sidewalk to the street, to the bike lane and then back to sidewalk based on what gets them there faster, many riders create confusion on the roads and sidewalks by acting so erratically that others are at a loss as what to do next. Drivers of the cars and trucks on the road can fail to see the E-scooter as it goes from the sidewalk to the street and get so surprised by its sudden appearance that an accident occurs. Worse, pedestrians are often unable to gauge where the E-scooter is going, even if the scooter is approaching them from the front. Walkers who are going in the same direction as an E-scooter frequently have no warning that a speeding scooter is coming up from behind, making any sudden change of direction on the walker's part a potential precursor to a serious accident.
Defective E-Scooters and Hazardous Roadways Can Cause Accidents, Too
That is not to say that riders are to blame for every E-scooter accident that has ever happened. Some crashes are caused by a problem with the vehicle, while in others it was the roadway that proved to be the culprit.
The E-scooter sharing companies responsible for the scooter fleet's presence is also in the best position to make sure that the vehicles are designed safely, properly put together, and adequately maintained. However, time has shown that companies like Bird or Lime care little for the costs associated with that and tend to cut corners in order to pad their bottom line. As a result, numerous vehicles have sustained damage or are broken in a way that makes them unsafe to ride, but it is not apparent without an extensive inspection. When E-scooter riders get on a damaged vehicle and end up getting hurt, they should be compensated.
Similarly, when E-scooter riders encounter dangerous road conditions like a pothole or an uneven sidewalk, they can be powerless to avoid a crash and a serious injury. Even if they were riding according to the rules of the road and behaving responsibly, they could find themselves severely hurt and in need of compensation for the costs of their injuries.
Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
E-scooters are a recent phenomenon and the law and other regulations are struggling to keep up with them. The uncertainty – with numerous practical problems surrounding an E-scooter crash like how to track down an E-scooter rider who hit someone and then fled the scene – have made it incredibly important to bring a personal injury lawyer into the case to ensure victims get the compensation they need and deserve from the person responsible for their injuries.
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian strive to serve the interests of victims in accidents of all sorts, including those caused by E-scooters. Contact them online today if you or someone you love has been seriously hurt by an electric scooter.