If you’ve visited Detroit and other busy cities like Ann Arbor and Royal Oak recently, you may have noticed a surprising addition to the city: electric scooters.
And if you’ve seen these scooters zipping through traffic and coasting alongside pedestrians, you’ve probably formed clear opinions on the subject: they’re a crash waiting to happen.
Have you been involved in a scooter accident as a pedestrian or as a rider? Here’s why you need an electric scooter attorney to assist with your case.
Electric Scooters Under Michigan Law
Michigan law around electric scooters currently classifies them as electric skateboards based on the following criteria:
- Cannot exceed speeds of 25 mph
- Can only carry one person at a time
- Has an electric propulsion system of no more than 2,500 watts
- A floorboard no more than 60 inches long and 18 inches wide
Because of this, the usual rules of electric skateboards apply, including:
- Riders must ride on the right-hand side where applicable
- Users under 19 must wear a crash helmet
- Users under 12 cannot ride on public streets
- Riders cannot operate a scooter on streets with a speed limit above 45 mph
- Any additional regulations on electric scooters under the auspices of local governments
If these laws and others are disregarded, there could be serious consequences.
The Dangers of Electric Scooters
Considering the many dangers inherent in electric scooters, a lengthy legal battle is the last thing you want. Unfortunately, many riders are careless enough to make accidents a real possibility.
One of the biggest risks of electric scooters is people riding without helmets. The scooters don’t include helmets, and since many scooter riders are tourists using them as a toy, it’s common to see a Bird or Lime scooter zipping through traffic without the least protection.
Another issue is children riding the scooters. Legally, children under 18 aren’t allowed to operate the scooters independently, but since their parents can rent the scooters and scooter checkout is unsupervised, there’s very little that companies can do to stop it.
There’s also the matter of where scooter riders go. Many scooter riders go on the sidewalk, which puts pedestrians at risk. But scooters on the road are even less safe than bikes, since they can’t go as fast, cars can’t see them, and riders aren’t wearing any protective gear.
Other common dangers include:
- Inexperienced riders
- Lack of barrier between the rider and the road
- High-risk behavior while riding
- Scooter instability
- Scooter vandalism
- Road hazards, such as potholes or debris
- A panic stop throwing the rider off the scooter
In short, you have a recipe for disaster.
Common Types of Scooter Accidents
Scooter accidents (and the legal consequences resulting from them) run the gamut.
Common types of scooter accidents include:
- A scooter rider crashes due to a road hazard, such as a pothole or road debris
- A scooter rider crashes due to an off-leash dog
- A scooter rider crashes to avoid hitting a car, a pedestrian, a cyclist, or another rider
- A car swerves to avoid a rider and hits another car in the process
- A car hits a rider because they couldn’t see them
- A car hits a rider because the rider wasn’t obeying traffic laws
- A pedestrian is hit by a rider or a car swerving to avoid a rider
- A pedestrian falls to avoid being hit by a rider
- A pedestrian trips on a scooter laying outside a building entrance or on the sidewalk
- Scooter malfunctions
The legal fault varies from case to case, and the question of who’s at fault has serious consequences on the outcome of your case.
Who Pays in an Accident?
In particular, the question of fault has a direct impact on who is responsible for paying for a scooter accident.
The rider pays for the accident if:
- The rider disregarded traffic laws, causing an accident
- The rider hits a pedestrian or car through their own inattention
- The rider is negligent and a car causes in accident in the process of swerving to avoid them
The scooter company pays for the accident if:
- The scooter malfunctions, causing an accident
The motorist pays for the accident if:
- The driver was not paying attention and collided with a rider
- The driver disregarded traffic laws and collided with a scooter
The pedestrian pays for the accident if:
- The pedestrian suddenly and negligently steps into the rider’s path
- The pedestrian has an unleashed dog and the dog caused the scooter to crash
However, there are a few complicating factors.
First, since the scooters are rentals, a negligent scooter rider will have to pay out a personal injury claim through their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If they don’t have either type of insurance, the injured party is unlikely to receive any compensation from them.
The same thing applies to pedestrians—your personal injury claim is paid out through homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, so if the negligent party doesn’t have insurance, it’s unlikely your claim will get much compensation.
If a car driver is negligent, then a claim is paid out through their auto insurance carrier. However, Michigan is a no fault state, which means that both parties receive compensation for medical expenses regardless of who was at fault. The only exceptions are:
- An accident in which someone is killed, critically injured, or permanently disabled or disfigured
- An accident with a non-Michigan resident occupying a vehicle not registered in Michigan
- An accident with a Michigan driver which occurs in another state
Drivers can also be sued for up to $1,000 if they are up to 50% responsible for damages to another party’s vehicle which are not covered by insurance. Otherwise, you cannot legally sue the driver.
Then, there are the scooter companies.
Theoretically, Bird, Lime, Lyft, and other scooter companies are at fault if a scooter malfunction causes an accident. Here’s the catch: the app you use to rent these scooters comes with an ironclad user agreement which requires you to release the companies from all liability. Under this agreement, the rider is responsible, even if the malfunction wasn’t their fault.
There have been class action lawsuits in California accusing Bird and Lime of gross negligence and aiding and abetting assault.
Why You Need an Attorney After a Scooter Accident
Let’s say you’ve been caught in a scooter accident. Your first step should be to call an electric scooter attorney.
Because electric scooters are a new form of transportation, the legal implications are still tricky. State laws surrounding the scooters are still up in the air—how they’re classified, where they can be used, what the legal expectations of riders are.
Then there’s the matter of user agreements.
Unless you happened to read the several hundred pages of the user agreement for the Bird or Lime apps, you might not know important information—like the time limit for filing a liability claim.
If you’re like most people, you didn’t read a word of the user agreement. But companies will still use it as grounds to deny your claim.
This is where a personal injury lawyer can help.
The Best Electric Scooter Attorney for You
If you’re caught in an electric scooter accident, whether you’re a rider or not, an electric scooter attorney can help.
Considering the many dangers inherent in electric scooters, a legal battle should be considered as part of the potential ramifications. At Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, we have handled over 120 trials at the state and national level, earning millions for clients just like you.
But most importantly, our attorneys know the importance of treating our clients with the respect and dignity they deserve. We’re here to help you through a difficult legal process and get you on the road to recovery.
If you need to speak with an attorney about your options, click here to schedule your free consultation.
There will be reckless and intoxicated riders who could cause serious personal injury and damage to innocent persons lawfully using the streets and sidewalks. But your life shouldn’t stand still because of someone else’s carelessness.