Electric scooters have the potential to transform driving in Illinois significantly. It’s an exciting time—many people who cannot afford motor vehicles can use these scooters to get to work and run errands. Scooters may also reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, these vehicles present new hazards and challenges. Laws about what scooter operators must do (and avoid doing) are in flux. This brief FAQ will give you insight into your obligations, so you can drive safer, abide by the law, and stay in the loop.
In the next months—from June 15, 2019 to October 15, 2019—the state of Illinois is testing a pilot program for E-scooters in Chicago. The purpose? To expand mobility access in the city and test and observe the demand for this alternative form or transportation. The pilot program spells our numerous rules for operating these vehicles. Failure to abide by these rules can lead to penalties. Learn more below:
Q: Do You Need a Driver’s License to Operate an Electric Scooter in Illinois?
A: No, per the pilot program, there is no requirement for a driver’s license, nor do you currently need a special license to operate an electric scooter. Operators should follow Illinois bicycle laws.
That said, you must generally restrict scooter operations to a specifically mapped area of Chicago, bounded by Pershing Road and Halsted Street. (You can check out a detailed map of this area here.) You can only operate the scooters between 5am – 10pm daily, and you must clear the vehicles from the street at night.
Q: Does Illinois Require Electric Scooter Operators to Wear Helmets?
You can find scooter locations using smart phone apps and websites; and you can also call customer service agents directly for assistance.
Q: Can I Operate an Electric Scooter on a Sidewalk?
A: No. Walk the scooter while on the sidewalk as you would a bike. Failure to do this may result in penalties from local law enforcement.
There are also strict parking restrictions. Vehicles have to be parked upright, at least 6 feet away from obstructions. You can generally park them at meters, on public bike racks, in bike shelters, and on the street where street signs allow. They must be at least 10 feet away from intersections. Learn more about restrictions and terms here.
Q: Who can File an E-Scooter Accident Lawsuit?
A: E-scooter accidents can lead to devastating injuries for riders as well as for pedestrians, motorists, or even other scooter operators. Common accident causes include negligent or careless motorists (who often struggle to notice and avoid scooters); malfunctioning vehicles or parts; unclear signage; and operator error. Depending on what caused your crash, you may be entitled to substantial compensation to pay for your medical care, time off of work, pain and suffering, and other costs.
To win compensation in a lawsuit or in a settlement, you need to prove multiple elements. For instance, if a motorist chatting on a cell phone slammed into your scooter as you crossed the road, you may need to be able to demonstrate the driver’s negligence as well as show how that negligence led to your damages. A police investigation can help—for instance, the police may discover that the driver who hit you was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash.
You may also want to investigate whether malfunctioning components contributed. For instance, parts of the scooter itself—the brakes, the battery, the accelerator or the throttle—may have failed, causing your crash. Alternatively, maybe your safety gear, such as your helmet, didn’t do its job properly. An experienced Chicago electric scooter accident attorney can help determine whether to pursue a scooter manufacturer for damages.
Illinois law protects pedestrians as well. If a scooter strikes a pedestrian on a walkway, the injured person can sue the operator and win damages.
Q: What Evidence can be Helpful in Winning an E-Scooter Accident Case?
After a crash, take steps to protect your rights. File a report with the police if you or someone else or hurt or if there was significant property damage. Take pictures of the accident scene with your cell phone. Exchange information (e.g. phone numbers, driver’s license and license plate information, etc.) with anyone else involved in the accident as well as with eyewitnesses. Document what happened, and record eyewitness statements as soon as possible, against all else. Get medical help. Even if the crash didn’t seem “that bad” at first, shock and adrenaline may prevent you from registering just how badly you’ve been injured. Get evaluated, especially if you hit your head or may have experienced a concussion. Preserve relevant medical records, such as CT scans or hospital admission records, as well as witness statements.
Q: What Compensation can I Recover in an Illinois E-Scooter Accident Case?
Depending on the nature of the accident and the damages incurred, you may be able to obtain recovery for medical and doctor bills, lost wages, damaged property, rehab and therapy, and other costs. Discuss your options with an experience Chicago accident lawyer. You may need to take action quickly to preserve evidence and protect your rights to fair compensation.
Even if you do win compensation through a settlement or lawsuit, you may need to go through additional steps to collect your money. The insurance company, for instance, may ask you to submit to ongoing tests to make sure that you’re still injured—or may even challenge a judgment in court. Your attorney can advise you strategically.
Q: How Long do I Have to File a Chicago E-Scooter Accident Lawsuit?
Waiting to investigate a claim can have consequences. If you wait too long, the statute of limitations on your case may elapse. This means you can’t recover damages, even if someone hurt you. In addition, waiting too long may create challenges for your case. The site of the accident, for instance, will be cleaned up, potentially eliminating important forensic clues about what happened and who caused what. Likewise, eyewitnesses may forget what they saw. Their testimony will generally have less value if you wait a long time to collect it. An experienced Illinois e-scooter accident attorney can help you preserve essential evidence, meet all filing deadlines, and push back against insurance companies who deny or lowball your claim. Your attorney can also explain what to do and what not to do after the accident, so you can get proper medical care and support.
Q: What Companies are Operating E-Scooter Rental in Chicago?
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection has permitted just 10 companies for this pilot program. They include: Bird; Bolt; Gruv; JUMP; Lime; Lyft; Sherpa; Spin; VeoRide; and Wheels. If you notice a scooter parked incorrectly or see another problem, get in touch with the company directly. Visit the City of Chicago website for a complete list of companies renting e-scooters in the city and for more information on the program.