While dockless scooters make for a quick and convenient way for people to get around in St. Louis, these vehicles have created safety hazards for riders, pedestrians, and motorists alike.
Larry Lewis, a professor of emergency medicine who works in the emergency department at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, told St. Louis Public Radio in January 2019 that the hospital was treating as many as 11 victims of scooter injuries each week.
Drivers have a duty to share the road with electric scooters and exercise caution when driving near these vehicles. When they fail in this duty, it is possible to hold the driver financially accountable for your injuries and expenses. Similarly, scooter riders have a duty to exercise caution while operating the vehicles, and they can be held liable for collisions with pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.
It some cases, it may also be possible to bring a claim against the company that rented out the scooter or the company that manufactured the scooter.
Sansone & Lauber is a full service personal injury firm representing accident victims in the St. Louis area. Call us today or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you seek justice after a serious accident.
What Are the Regulations for Electric Scooters?
Bird electric scooters first began appearing on St. Louis city streets in July 2018, but were immediately pulled by the company because the city had not issued a proper permit. The following month, the St. Louis Business Journal reported that Bird scooters were back on the streets after the company finalized an agreement with the city.
Another scooter company, Lime, launched its own scooters on St. Louis streets about a week before Bird received its approval. Unlike many other municipalities that had to quickly enact regulations for the companies, St. Louis did actually have a city ordinance relating to motorized scooters that it passed in 2001.
St. Louis City Ordinance 65138 provides that every person operating a motorized scooter has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of any vehicle. A person operating a motorized scooter is required to wear a helmet and be at least 16 years of age while riding as close as possible to the right side of the street. A violation of the city ordinance is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
KSDK-TV, however, reported that enforcement of the ordinance was going to be at the discretion of police officers. KSDK reported that an emailed statement from the City of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) stated, “With a 126-officer deficit, it would be challenging to prioritize scooter enforcement.”
Injuries Caused by Scooters
The small size and lack of protection means that scooter riders can sustain severe injuries if they are struck by another vehicle or otherwise thrown from their scooter. This risk is compounded by the fact that scooter rental companies do not provide helmets, and few riders bring their own.
Some of the different injuries people may suffer in scooter accidents can include:
- Internal organ injuries
- Nerve damage
- Muscle strains
- Road rash
The severity of injuries depends on several factors, such as the speed a scooter was traveling as well as the type of accident it was involved in. Some people involved in scooter accidents will face overwhelming medical expenses. Severe injuries can also result in a possible inability to return to work.
Tragically, some electric scooter accidents have been fatal. When a person is killed in a scooter accident, family members of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent party.
Who Is Liable for Scooter Accidents?
Determining liability in a scooter crash can be complex, and the responsible party can vary depending on the kind of accident a person was involved in. In general, the most common kinds of scooter accident claims involve one of the following:
- Motor Vehicle Collisions — Negligent drivers may be liable when their motor vehicles cause scooter accidents. Both scooter riders and operators of other motor vehicles could be at fault depending on the circumstances.
- Defective Scooters — Rental companies can be liable for injuries caused by improperly maintained scooters. Manufacturers can be liable in cases of defective scooter parts that cause accidents.
- Collisions with Pedestrians — A pedestrian or the scooter rider could claim the other party was at fault for their collision.
- Dangerous Road Conditions — Some governmental entities can be held liable for accidents caused by potholes or other road issues that should have been corrected.
What to Do If Hit By an Electric Scooter
When you are involved in any kind of scooter accident, your first step must always be to seek immediate medical care. You should do this even when you do not initially think you were hurt, as some serious injuries involve delayed symptoms.
If it is possible, you should also take as many pictures as you can of the crash scene. Get photographs of everything involved in the accident, including the people, vehicles, and any other potential contributing factors.
When your injuries were caused by a scooter operator, you should get the scooter user’s contact information. Ask for driver’s license to confirm their identity, and also contact law enforcement to file a police report.
You will likely be contacted by an insurance company for the negligent party involved in your crash, whether it is an automobile driver, a scooter operator, or a scooter rental company. Do not make any recorded statement to these insurers without legal representation.
Some insurance companies will try to quickly close these cases by offering victims lump-sum settlements, but the initial offers are usually much less than what these people are actually entitled to. Do not accept a settlement offer until a qualified personal injury attorney has reviewed it and advised you about your rights and legal options
Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys at Sansone & Lauber for More Information
If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed in a Bird, Lime, or other electric scooter accident anywhere in the greater St. Louis area, get the legal help you need as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help you seek all of the compensation you need and deserve.