Electric scooters, colloquially known as E-scooters, are a recent phenomenon that has taken the city of Baltimore by storm. Their popularity, however, has also led to countless E-scooter accidents that have left hundreds of people with significant injuries. While every E-scooter accident is different, the vast majority of them fall within a small handful of categories, depending on whether it was the rider of the E-scooter who got hurt or someone else.
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian strive to represent all innocent victims who got hurt in an E-scooter accident in the city of Baltimore.
Types of E-Scooter Accidents that Hurt Bystanders
While E-scooters are still too new for there to be extensive or even remotely reliable statistics regarding the kinds of accidents and injuries that they cause, it does seem that the majority of them are caused by the actions and recklessness of the people riding E-scooters. When these accidents end with someone other than the E-scooter rider getting hurt, that victim should be compensated for their losses because they were not the ones who caused the crash. In fact, in many cases, there was nothing that they could have done to prevent it.
So far in Baltimore, it seems that most of the E-scooter accidents that hurt other people – whether physically, financially, or both – fall into one or multiple of the following categories.
- An E-scooter hitting a pedestrian on the sidewalk.
- An E-scooter hitting a car and causing damage to the vehicle.
- High-risk or reckless behavior on the E-scooter either directly or indirectly causing an accident.
Pedestrians Hit by an E-Scooter on the Sidewalk
In Baltimore, it has been pedestrians who have been put in the most danger since the advent of the E-scooter. Because the business model of E-scooter sharing companies like Bird and Lime involves dropping off hordes of scooters and then letting local ordinances and traffic codes catch up, there is a substantial period of time where the rules for where and how people could ride E-scooters were vague or nonexistent, at all. The biggest group of victims from the resulting uncertainty has been the pedestrians on the sidewalks of Baltimore. Over the course of even a half-mile walk, pedestrians are likely to encounter nearly a dozen E-scooters, each of which is likely controlled by someone with a different idea of where they can drive and how fast they can drive safely.
Every one of these E-scooters puts pedestrians on the sidewalk at risk. E-scooter drivers that sneak up on a pedestrian from behind have very little idea of when or where the pedestrian is going to turn – whether to enter a building from the sidewalk or to make for the road to cross it or to get into a vehicle. Even when the E-scooter is approaching a pedestrian from the front, there is a strong possibility for a collision if the E-scooter rider and the pedestrian get confused over what direction each person is going to take. Finally, pedestrians who are not even on the sidewalk yet are put at risk by E-scooters in Baltimore. People about to exit buildings are powerless to avoid oncoming E-scooters that are riding on the sidewalk next to their building. Many people have been run down by E-scooters the instant after they open a door and step outside.
Traffic regulations are supposed to prevent these accidents from happening. However, the E-scooter regulations imposed by Baltimore's pilot program with Bird have left open numerous important issues on E-scooter and pedestrian safety. Perhaps worse, those regulations are poorly communicated to E-scooter riders, who are “required” to watch safety videos by E-scooter providers before riding a scooter but rarely do. As a result, pedestrians are constantly put in danger by E-scooter riders who do not know or care to keep others safe.
When those pedestrians get hit and hurt by an E-scooter in Baltimore, they deserve to be compensated for their losses.
When an E-Scooter Hits a Car
Precisely because E-scooter riders have very little oversight, guidance, or enforcement over where they can ride their vehicles, they frequently zip in and out of streets, acting like a pedestrian one second and a bike, the next. The speed with which E-scooters travel can make it impossible for cars to see them, let alone anticipate their next moves.
When an E-scooter hits a car in Baltimore, the rider of the E-scooter is far more likely to be hurt in the collision than the driver of the car. However, where the E-scooter rider was the one responsible for the incident, the extent of their injuries should not mean that the driver of the car is left uncompensated for their own. What matters for determining who is liable is the degree of fault for the accident, not the extent of the injuries sustained. Therefore, if your car was damaged when an E-scooter rider hit it, you deserve to be compensated for the costs it takes to repair your vehicle, even if the E-scooter rider got more hurt than you did.
A common scenario for this to happen is when your car is parallel parked on the street and an E-scooter sideswipes it. The most common damage that your car sustains in these incidents is a broken side mirror. For most vehicles, the cost for this type of repair is usually under $200. However, there are many newer or luxury vehicles that require expensive parts and computer programming for their side mirrors, escalating the cost of repair far higher.
High-Risk Behaviors on a Scooter
Everyone is put in even greater danger when the rider of the E-scooter is behaving recklessly or taking high-risk chances. The most common type of high-risk behavior that E-scooter riders take is going at high speeds through crowded sidewalks. Many riders seem to think that they have the right of way on the sidewalk, in spite of the fact that the regulations in Baltimore's pilot program explicitly state that riding on the sidewalk is prohibited, and the safety guidelines for E-scooter companies forbid sidewalk riding. When those riders break 10 miles per hour on the sidewalk and begin weaving in and out of foot traffic, the chances that they hit someone increase exponentially.
While fewer E-scooter riders behave like this on the roads than on the sidewalks, there are some riders who drive erratically between cars, as well. When traffic is bad and cars are moving slowly, it is not uncommon to see E-scooters weaving in and out of the lanes on the road to get to the next light quicker.
When any of these behaviors cause a crash that impacts your life, you deserve to be compensated for your losses.
Types of E-Scooter Accidents that Hurt Riders
There are also E-scooter accidents where the rider was not at fault. While less common or prevalent in Baltimore, they do happen. When they happen, the E-scooter rider should be compensated just like any other victim of an accident.
One example that highlights how E-scooter riders are not always the ones to blame for a crash is when a scooter rider gets “doored.” E-scooters are meant to be ridden on the far right-hand side of the roadway, just like a bicycle. This position puts E-scooter riders in the path of the same danger as bikers: The danger of a car door being suddenly opened into their path.
When the driver or occupant of a parallel parked car opens their door into the path of an oncoming E-scooter, they can cause serious injuries to the scooter rider. They can also violate Maryland's “dooring” law, Maryland Transportation Code §21-1105. In these cases, the injured E-scooter rider played no part in the crash and deserves to be compensated.
Defective, Damaged, and Poorly Maintained E-Scooters
E-scooter riders are also at the mercy of the vehicles that they ride. Because they do not own the E-scooter, they are left largely powerless to notice damage that could compromise their safety during their ride. They also rely on the E-scooter company to regularly maintain their fleet of scooters and to perform adequate quality control to ensure that no defective E-scooters makes it to the streets of Baltimore.
Time has shown that this trust is frequently misplaced.
Reckless riders on E-scooters have raised the ire of many people who think they are a menace to pedestrians and city life. Websites that encourage and publicize people vandalizing E-scooters have appeared, drastically increasing the need for E-scooter riders to make sure their scooter is not damaged or vandalized before renting it for a ride. Unfortunately, not all forms of damage are prominent enough to be seen with just a quick inspection. As a result, many E-scooter riders find themselves dealing with a broken scooter in the middle of their trip, putting themselves and others in jeopardy.
In theory, E-scooter companies could prevent this from happening by taking extra steps towards maintaining their fleet of vehicles. However, time has shown that they care more about keeping damaged and potentially dangerous E-scooters on the street to make money, rather than taking the time and effort to fix them. When these decisions to put the public at risk leads to an E-scooter accident that hurts someone – even if the only person hurt is the E-scooter rider – the scooter company should be held accountable for their reckless behavior.
In some cases, an E-scooter could be dangerous from the very beginning. Scooters that were defectively made or manufactured can put riders and others at risk, through no fault of their own. In many of these situations, it is even impossible for an E-scooter rider to notice that there is something wrong with the vehicle they are about to rent. The resulting injuries to innocent people can be the impetus for a products liability lawsuit for the victims' compensation.
Road or Environmental Hazards
E-scooter riders can also be the victim of road hazards or other dangers. The potholes and rugged roads that cars and trucks can tackle are often too much of a match for the smaller wheels and relatively unstable frame of an E-scooter.
Unfortunately, the accidents caused by these dangers often look like blameless crashes or accidents that were caused by the rider of the E-scooter. When an E-scooter hits a pothole or other road hazard and throws the rider to the ground, the incident often has the appearance of either a fault-less accident or one that was caused by the rider's inattention. Few people think of the role that the road condition played in the crash and the resulting injuries, and instead, put the full force of the blame on the E-scooter rider.
This perception becomes even more important to overcome when an E-scooter rider suddenly swerved to avoid a dangerous road condition and indirectly caused an accident as other vehicles reacted. The costs of these crashes can be significant, especially when there was more than one vehicle involved, so putting liability for the incident on the road conditions rather than on the E-scooter rider is critical.
The Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
E-scooters have already become an important facet of life in Baltimore. However, the initial reaction to them often overlooks lots of nuance, and instead blames E-scooter riders for all of the types of accidents that can possibly happen with a scooter. There are lots of types of E-scooter accidents that can happen, and many of them are not the fault of the E-scooter rider. Sometimes, the ultimate cause of an accident is the roadway. Other times, it is the negligent production or repair of the E-scooters, themselves, making the E-scooter company ultimately responsible.
The personal injury lawyers at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian recognize that not all E-scooter accidents are the same and that sometimes the presumed culprit is actually the victim of the crash. Regardless of whether you were injured by someone driving an E-scooter or whether you were on the E-scooter and got hurt, you deserve compensation if you were not at fault. Contact us online to discuss your case.