In all of the places that have allowed electric scooter (or E-scooter) sharing, the sudden presence of these vehicles on the streets and sidewalks of the city has also come with a proliferation of accidents and injuries. In many of these E-scooter accidents, innocent people have gotten seriously hurt through no fault of their own. In a lot of cases, there was nothing that the victim could have done to avoid the accident. Not all of those victims, though, were hapless pedestrians who were run over by a recklessly driven E-scooter. In some instances, it was the E-scooter rider who was the victim of the crash.
While E-scooters are not yet allowed in Philadelphia or the rest of Pennsylvania, there has been a movement towards allowing them. The personal injury lawyers at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian stand ready to provide the legal assistance that victims need to recover the compensation they deserve.
Two Main Types of E-Scooter Accidents in Philadelphia
Time has shown that there are numerous ways for an E-scooter ride to go wrong. When the rider is being reckless or dangerous on the E-scooter, it seems that the accidents that can happen are limited only by the rider's creativity.
However, an easy way to categorize E-scooter accidents is based on who was victimized by the accident. These victims get hurt but were not responsible for the accident so they should be compensated. Therefore, the two main types of E-scooter accidents are those that victimize the E-scooter rider and those that victimize someone other than the E-scooter rider.
E-Scooter Accidents that Hurt Others
While there are not yet any reliable statistics on E-scooter accidents, it seems that most of them end up hurting someone other than the E-scooter rider. This is particularly true in the locales and cities that allow – or begrudgingly permit – E-scooters to be ridden on the sidewalk. There, pedestrians are put at risk from an E-scooter running them over should they change the direction they are walking, emerge from a building, or stop.
However, those are not the only ways for E-scooter accidents to hurt someone other than the rider. These accidents include the following.
- E-scooter riders hitting a pedestrian on the sidewalk.
- Reckless or dangerous E-scooter riders indirectly causing another accident or injury.
- E-scooters hitting cars and causing damage.
Pedestrians Hit and Hurt by E-Scooters
By far the most prominent danger and the one that is likely the leading cause of accidents and injuries caused by E-scooters is to pedestrians. The business model of Lime and Bird and other E-scooter sharing companies is to simply drop off hundreds of E-scooters in a city and let local regulators and the general public figure out what is a safe way to use them. As a result, many pedestrians get thrown into harm's way. E-scooter riders have only a vague understanding of the local rules of the road for their vehicles, leaving them unsure about where they can ride. Coupled with the fact that most of the riders are new to the driving style and the surprising power of an E-scooter, it is only a matter of time before someone loses control of their E-scooter while on the sidewalk and hits an innocent bystander.
The danger is especially apparent for people who are just exiting a building. E-scooters travel fast enough that pedestrians just leaving a building and setting foot onto the sidewalk are completely unable to see far enough to either side to see an oncoming E-scooter. Even if they were, it would be unreasonable to expect people who are just leaving a building to “look both ways” before they step onto the sidewalk as if they were actually stepping into the street. The sidewalk has long been the sanctuary of pedestrians and other slow-moving vehicles, like wheelchairs.
Regardless of whether or not the pedestrian was already on the sidewalk when they got hit or was just leaving a building, they deserve to be compensated for the injuries they sustained in a crash that they did not deserve.
Risky Riding on an E-Scooter that Indirectly Causes an Accident
Not all of the accidents that E-scooters cause actually involve the E-scooter itself. In many cases, risky, reckless, or even negligent riding can cause so much confusion on the sidewalks and roads that people or cars try getting out of the way cause another accident.
The most significant accidents that happen in this way are when E-scooters are driven not on the sidewalk but on the streets instead. This is because reckless E-scooter behavior on the sidewalk is far more likely to directly cause an accident that involves the E-scooter hitting a pedestrian, then it is for the reckless driving to indirectly cause an injury – pedestrians are not likely to get hurt while trying to get out of the way of an E-scooter without getting hit, though it does happen occasionally.
One of the most common situations for an E-scooter to indirectly cause an accident is when the E-scooter is barreling through a crosswalk or going from the sidewalk to the street or bike lane. Car drivers in these cases are unlikely to be expecting another vehicle traveling so quickly and probably did not account for the possibility of the presence of an E-scooter. When they see the E-scooter so suddenly, many drivers react in a way that causes another accident that does not involve the E-scooter at all.
E-Scooters Versus Cars
Finally, there are times when E-scooters hit cars and damage them. While most of these accidents end with the E-scooter rider getting far more hurt than the driver of the car, when the accident was caused by the E-scooter rider and the car was damaged then the car's owner or driver should be compensated for the costs of repairing or replacing their own vehicle – regardless of the E-scooter rider's injuries. It might seem harsh to seek compensation from an E-scooter rider for the dent they put in your car when they broke bones in the accident. However, when they were the one who caused the accident, there is no reason why you should be the one to pay for your costs out of your own pocket.
E-Scooter Riders Can Be Victims, Too
Just because it seems like bystanders and other members of the public are more likely to get hurt by an E-scooter than the riders of the E-scooters does not mean that the riders cannot be victims, too. This is most likely to happen in the following situations.
- An E-scooter gets hit by a car.
- A car door gets opened into the path of an oncoming E-scooter.
- A defective or damaged E-scooter breaks during a ride.
- A road or environmental hazard causes an E-scooter to crash.
Cars Versus E-Scooters
In some cases, an accident between a car and an E-scooter is not the E-scooter's fault. Sometimes the E-scooter rider was driving legally and responsibly but still got hit and hurt when a car driver did something negligent. For example, where E-scooters are required to ride in the road on the far right-hand side – or in a bike lane if one is available – car drivers making right turns at an intersection are notorious for not looking to see if anyone is coming on their right. When they make their turn, they can cut off an oncoming E-scooter and cause an accident that severely hurts the rider of the E-scooter.
In these cases, the E-scooter rider is likely the victim rather than the car driver. They deserve to be compensated for their losses.
E-Scooters Getting “Doored” by Parked Cars
Another example of E-scooter riders being the victims in an E-scooter accident is when the door or a car parked on the side of the street is opened suddenly into the E-scooter's path. Colloquially referred to as “dooring,” this practice is usually just a danger to bicyclists. However, when E-scooters are driven in bike lanes or along the right side of the road, dooring also poses a threat to E-scooters, as well. The severity of this threat is often underrated. When a door is opened into the path of an oncoming E-scooter at the last second, the scooter rider can have no time to avoid the danger. Because E-scooters are made to go upwards of 15 miles per hour, and because riders often go the fastest they can go while on the streets to keep up with traffic, the injuries that this impact can create are not trivial. Worse, if the E-scooter rider has time to take evasive action, their immediate reaction could be to swerve into the street where they could be at risk of an even more devastating accident with a car.
Dooring is a violation of the traffic code in Pennsylvania. It violates 75 Pa. C.S. § 3705. Violation of this statute can be used in a personal injury lawsuit by the injured E-scooter rider to ascertain the standard of care that the driver of the car was expected to uphold, proving their negligence and liability for the crash.
Defective or Damaged E-Scooters
When riders use E-scooters provided by sharing companies like Bird or Lime, they are left largely at the mercy of the device that they rent through the smartphone app. If the E-scooter that they take for a ride is damaged or defective, they could be in harm's way and not know it, keeping them from taking safety precautions that could help themselves or others on the way to their destination.
Damaged E-scooters are increasingly becoming a problem in cities that have allowed these vehicles. Angry locals sickened by the constant dangers the vehicles pose on innocent pedestrians on the sidewalk have been known to vandalize or even destroy E-scooters that they find lying on the sidewalk or in parking lots. When the damage that they cause compromises the E-scooter, it can put the vehicle's next rider at significant risk. When that damage is hidden enough that a quick inspection would not find it, riders can be hard-pressed to protect themselves from the danger.
Defective E-scooters are another problem. Sharing companies like Lime and Bird have shown that they are far more interested in getting as many E-scooters on the streets as possible than ensuring those vehicles are safe and sound. Brake problems have been reported on many of the vehicles, causing even the most adept E-scooter rider to lose control of their vehicle in the middle of their ride and get hurt.
In these cases, the ultimate cause of the crash could be the E-scooter company for their poor quality control and maintenance. A personal injury or products liability lawsuit against them could be your best option for compensation.
Finally, road hazards or environmental dangers can pose a risk to E-scooter riders. Broken sidewalks, potholes, or hidden dangers on the street can throw even an experienced and attentive rider from their E-scooter and cause them to get hurt. Worse, they can cause an E-scooter rider to swerve suddenly into even greater danger or take evasive action that indirectly causes another crash.
Many E-scooter riders presume that these incidents are blameless accidents and that they will have to pay for the costs of their injuries. That is not always the case, though. Where the hazard was the result of poor road maintenance or construction, the agencies or companies responsible for keeping people safe can be held liable for the crash.
Gilman & Bedigian: Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Philadelphia
If you get hurt in an E-scooter accident in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, you need legal help. Regardless of whether you were the rider of the E-scooter that was involved or a pedestrian who was hit by someone's reckless E-scooter behavior, recovering compensation for your injuries is an essential part of the recovery process. The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact us online.