Shared electric scooters are coming to Chicago streets in 2019, according to the Chicago Tribune. These scooters have been a strong source of contention in the other cities they operate in, and for good reason – many people have suffered injuries either while riding one of these vehicles or because of someone riding an electric scooter. Because of the newness and rapid spread of these rental scooters, many cities have yet to enforce safety regulations for them, much to the danger of pedestrians, motorists, and scooter riders alike.
If you or someone you know suffered injuries while riding an electric scooter, you could claim compensation for your injuries through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Your legal options will depend on the circumstances of the accident and your relationship to the scooter. Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your electric scooter injuries in Chicago.
What are Electric Scooters?
Electric scooters are a relatively new phenomenon popping up in cities across the United States. While Chicago may be next on their list, these vehicles are currently operating in places such as San Diego, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Denver. These scooters run on electric machinery, making them a heavier type of vehicle than your typical manual scooter.
Many different companies operate electric scooter sharing programs in these cities. Everyone from locals to tourists can rent one of these scooters for the day, driving them everywhere from city streets to sidewalks and public pathways. Common brands of electric scooters include Bird and Lime.
As of 2019, no nationwide regulations are in place to regulate the use of electric scooters, despite the high increase in injuries involving these vehicles. In addition, no state-level regulations exist. You do not need to carry a license, registration, or insurance to operate an electric scooter. Instead, the cities put restrictions in place to keep these vehicles at bay. Chicago is proposing the following regulations with the new scooter program:
- Scooters can only operate in designated pilot areas, which include a large section of the Northwest, Southwest, and West sides of Chicago.
- The program will run on a limited timeframe between June 15th and October 15th.
- The maximum amount of scooters that will operate in the pilot area will be 3,500.
- Scooters can only drive up to 15 miles per hour.
Types of Accidents Involving Electric Scooters
Many different types of accidents can occur while riding an electric scooter. We can divide the types of accidents into five different categories: the improper use of electric scooters, machinery malfunctions, accidents involving other riders, pedestrians, or motorists, improper parking, and road hazards. Simply put, many cities are not set up to accommodate electric scooters, and riders, pedestrians, and motorists experience the consequences.
- Machinery malfunctions: There are many reports of scooters malfunctioning while riders are operating these vehicles. Brakes can fail, leading to loss of control of the vehicle. Other riders report the battery crashing in the middle of the ride, as well of the lock of the front wheel mid-ride. The tires can go flat, the handlebars can detach, and the throttle can be stuck on full speed. All of these conditions can lead to serious consequences and injuries to the rider.
- Improperly parked scooters: Because of the lack of education and regulation of these vehicles, riders do not properly park these scooters in safe places. Scooters can cause injuries to disabled people when riders park them in designated handicap spots or ramps. They can also harm people exiting and entering buildings when riders park them in front of these building doors. In addition, some riders abandon scooters in the middle of roads and sidewalks, which can be a serious hazard to drivers and pedestrians alike.
- Improper use of scooters: Many electric scooter riders can operate them in an unsafe way. They can allow young or unsupervised children to ride these machines, causing injury or death to the child. They can use the scooters on city streets without bike lanes, or ride multiple scooters at once in a large group. In addition, multiple people on one scooter is a serious hazard, as well as using the scooter in an undesignated location.
- Road hazards: Cities are not set up to accommodate electric scooters and the lack of regulations cannot protect riders from serious hazards. Construction areas can pose a danger to electric scooter riders, as well as ice or water on the road. Any potholes, debris, litter, or bumps on roadways can cause an electric scooter to crash. In addition, riders can use these scooters at night with low visibility, leading to crashes with cars and pedestrians.
- Accidents involving motorists, pedestrians, and other scooters: Electric scooters and other vehicles and pedestrians are a volatile mix. Electric scooter riders can crash into pedestrians or cause pedestrians to fall while they are riding. Scooters can also swerve into traffic, leading to motor vehicle collisions or falls. In addition, motorists could cause accidents with other vehicles, scooters, or even pedestrians while trying to avoid a scooter on the road.
Accidents Involving Electric Scooters in Other Cities
While electric scooters are going to be a new occurrence in Chicago this summer, they have already caused significant amounts of damage in other cities. In fact, they have caused at least 1,500 injuries in the United States in the past year alone. Many of these accidents lead to significant, lifelong consequences for the victims. Unfortunately, many Chicago residents are projected to suffer injuries during the pilot program this summer.
For example, a Minnesota man recently suffered serious injuries in a scooter accident in Denver. He suffered severe brain injuries and will likely have to undergo years of therapy to recover. Another man in Tempe, Arizona experienced critical injuries when he was hit by a vehicle while riding a scooter. Recently, an electric scooter rider died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida when he collided with a car. Many people have suffered injuries while riding on these vehicles, making them a serious safety hazard and liability.
Legal Options for Victims of Electric Scooter Accidents in Chicago
Whether you were a scooter rider, a motorist, or a pedestrian, injuries sustained due to an electric scooter can be very severe. If you were not at-fault for the accident, you could claim compensation for your injuries and other losses, such as lost wages or property damage, through an insurance claim, a product liability lawsuit, or a personal injury lawsuit. Depending on the cause of your accident and your relationship to the scooter, you could claim various forms of compensation such as:
- Past and future medical expenses related to the injury
- Property damage and replacement
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings
- Chronic pain and disability
- Emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety
- Loss of quality of life
- Other pain and suffering damages related to the accident and losses
Filing a claim against an electric scooter company can involve very complex insurance questions and issues of liability. For best results, contact a personal injury attorney from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to discuss the facts of your case and develop a plan of action.
Contact Rosenfeld Injury Law for Your Chicago Electric Scooter Accident Case
Electric scooters can cause a lot of harm to pedestrians, motorists, and scooter riders, thanks to malfunctioning machinery, improper operation, and poor regulations from the cities that allow these vehicles. Electric scooters have the potential to lead to serious injuries, high medical bills, and even death – and if you or someone you know suffered injuries due to one of them, you could claim financial compensation. Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation at our Chicago offices.