Electric scooters, also known as E-scooters, are proliferating in American cities at an alarming rate. While they do come with a lot of benefits – they are an inexpensive and environmentally friendly option for the so-called “last mile” trips that are too far to walk but too short to drive – there are also lots of dangers that come with shared E-scooters.
Whenever one of those dangers manifests itself in an accident or injury, the terms of the user agreement and other policies of the E-scooter sharing company will become very important. Unfortunately, these terms and conditions that come with riding a shared E-scooter are disturbingly strict, with Lime's E-scooter policies among the worst. The personal injury lawyers at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian explain what this means for potential E-scooter riders and victims of E-scooter accidents once Philadelphia opens its doors to the shared E-scooter craze.
Lime's E-Scooter Policies, and “Clickwrap”
E-scooter sharing companies are built on the model of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft: They are smartphone applications that alert users to nearby E-scooters for rent, and allow you to unlock, rent, pay for, ride, and then lock E-scooters for your trip. To use Lime's E-scooter app, though, you have to click “I agree” to the terms and conditions set out in its E-scooter policy before getting any further – a legal maneuver known as “clickwrap.”
Those terms and conditions are an astounding 53 pages long. Skimming through the pages to find the important provisions is made even harder by the fact that all of it is written in boldface font. Nevertheless, Lime opens its treatise with the capitalized sentence “please read each provision of this agreement carefully,” as if you could set aside the rest of the day to their agreement and were not eager to use an E-scooter to quickly get to your destination.
It would not be surprising if no one had ever read all of Lime's E-scooter policy. So the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian did, to draw out its most important terms.
E-Scooter Users Release Lime from Liability
Most of the terms and conditions that come with riding a Lime E-scooter deal with Lime's liability for a crash, or for any injuries that stem from E-scooter usage. All of these provisions limit Lime's liability and put as much responsibility for a crash – or any negative outcome, for that matter – onto the E-scooter rider.
- Section 1.15 says that an E-scooter rider is “solely responsible” for anything bad that happens on an E-scooter, “whether foreseeable or unforeseeable”
- Section 1.3 uses similar language for when a minor is using an E-scooter rented out to you
- Under Section 1.4.6, “Lime reserves the right to hold you fully responsible for all damage, losses, claims, and liability arising from your use of any vehicle… without limitation” and “to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law”
- Section 1.5 forces you to “assume all responsibilities and risks for any injuries,” including those caused by risks associated with riding in inclement weather
- Section 1.8 puts it on the rider to research, understand, and follow all traffic laws related to E-scooters, and to pay for the costs of violating them
- Section 6.1 disclaims all warranties concerning Lime's E-scooters “to the fullest extent permitted by law,” while Section 6.2 claims that all E-scooters are provided “as is,” and that E-scooter defects cannot be held against Lime
- Section 7 is yet another blanket disclaimer that states that you agree to assume all risk of riding one of Lime's E-scooters and that Lime's liability for any injuries is limited to $100
Strict Requirements on Where, When, and How You Can Ride
Meanwhile, Lime's E-scooter policies put strict limitations on every aspect of your ride. The goal of these policies is to make it as difficult as possible for you to abide by all of them, allowing Lime to escape liability for a crash or injury by claiming that you were breaking its rules.
- Section 1.4 forbids driving an E-scooter on unpaved surfaces, while distracted, or in violation of any traffic laws
- Section 1.4.3 requires riders to abide by any and all traffic laws, though Lime does not explain how they apply to E-scooters
- Section 1.5 forces you to claim that you are “familiar” with riding E-scooters and that “you are reasonably competent and physically fit” to drive one
- Section 1.10.2 prohibits riding with anything that impedes your ability to ride an E-scooter, including a backpack or briefcase
Forced Arbitration and No Class Actions
Lime's E-scooter policy also prohibits injured people to form class actions and compels arbitration.
Section 2 claims that anyone who clicks “I agree” to Lime's E-scooter policies also agrees to final and binding arbitration for any and all claims related to their E-scooter ride. While Lime's arbitration agreement does not require the arbitration hearing to happen in a particular place – like Bird's does – it does pre-select an arbitrator to hear the case and issue a binding decision. That arbitrator, Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc., or JAMS, is almost guaranteed to do whatever it can to rule in favor of the company bringing it business – in this case, Lime.
Compelling arbitration is something that more and more companies are doing. The impact on innocent victims of E-scooter accidents is not small, though. The outcome of arbitration is likely to be far less satisfactory than a case that goes through the traditional court system, and the binding decision of an arbitrator is given lots of deference by a court that reviews the decision.
E-Scooter Accident Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
Lime has not yet been allowed to drop off its E-scooters in Philadelphia, or anywhere else in Pennsylvania, because the state's Department of Transportation does not consider them street-legal. Should they ever be allowed, though, Lime's E-scooter policies will play a role whenever anyone gets hurt, often to your own detriment.
Overcoming the effects of Lime's E-scooter policies can take a personal injury lawyer. Reach out to the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian by contacting them online.